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November 2018 Department Newsletter


Dear Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Friends,

Welcome to the November edition of the Department of Pediatrics Newsletter. Here you will find a sampling of all the amazing activity happening within the Department of Pediatrics and at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Thanks to all our talented faculty, trainees, and staff who make this the best Pediatrics Department in the country!

2018 Career Teaching Scholars Awardees
I’m a thrilled to announce the recipients of the Department of Pediatrics Career Teaching Scholars Award for 2018.

Please join me in congratulating J. Lindsey Lane, BMBCh (Professor, Section of General Pediatrics), Ellen Elias, MD (Professor, Section of General Pediatrics), Sharisse Arnold-Rehring, MD (Clinical Professor, Pediatrics), and Peter Knott, MD (Associate Clinical Professor, Pediatrics) as this year’s award winners.

Each of these individuals has made outstanding contributions to pediatric education throughout their careers.

The Department of Pediatrics will be honoring them during Pediatric Grand Rounds on November 30, so mark your calendar as we celebrate these gifted teachers.

Gestational Diabetes Research Findings
From research led by MD/PhD student Taylor Soderborg, Karim El Kasmi, MD, PhD, Jacob Friedman, PhD (Professor, Section of Neonatology) and colleagues comes a major new article published in the October 2018 edition of the Nature Communications.

In the article titled, “The gut microbiota in infants of obese mothers increases inflammation and susceptibility to NAFLD,” the investigators explore the causal drivers of the association between maternal obesity and the increased risk for offspring obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

From their studies, the researchers found that babies born to obese mothers have a unique microbiome. When these microbes (bacteria) from 2-week-old infants were transferred into germ free mice, the mice developed inflammation, obesity, and signs of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease compared to mice receiving bacteria from babies born to normal weight mothers.

This provided the first experimental evidence in support of the hypothesis that changes in the gut microbiome in infants born to obese mothers directly initiate these disease pathways.

The key finding from the research is showing that if a baby is born to an obese mother who already has dysbiosis, the infant microbes could be causing changes before obesity and diabetes develop.

Researchers Take Aim at Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare condition that affects a person’s nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, causing weakness in one or more limbs. AFM or neurologic conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses and environmental toxins.

Since August 2014, there has been a surprising increase in number of people across the United States with AFM (including 29 cases in Colorado), with most of the cases occurring in children.

Researchers from the Department of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Colorado are at the forefront on investigating why.

Research led by Kevin Messacar, MD (Assistant Professor, Section of Hospitalist Medicine), Edwin Asturias, MD (Associate Professor, Section of Infectious Diseases), and colleagues was recently highlighted in the journal The Lancet.

In an article titled, “Enterovirus D68 and acute flaccid myelitis—evaluating the evidence for causality,” the researchers evaluate the epidemiological and biological evidence linking enterovirus D68 and acute flaccid myelitis.

From their work, they demonstrate that a causal role of enterovirus D68 in AFM, and the potential for future disease outbreaks highlights the need for comprehensive surveillance of enterovirus D68 and AFM and the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies.

DiStefano Named Chief Medical Officer – Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs
Congratulations to Michael DiStefano, MD (Associate Professor, Section of Emergency Medicine) on his selection as Chief Medical Officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. Since joining the faculty in 2012, Mike has emerged as a gifted leader with a passion for driving the triple aim of improving patient health, enhancing patient and family experience and outcomes, and reducing healthcare cost through organizational efficiency and process improvement.

With our growing faculty presence in Colorado Springs and the opening of the new Hospital in Spring 2019, having Mike’s leadership partnership as CMO will be of great strategic importance to our Department. Mike will begin his tenure as CMO on January 1, 2019, please join me in wishing him well in this exciting new role.

With Dr. DiStefano’s transition, I am pleased to announce that Rakesh Mistry, MD, MS (Associate Professor, Section of Emergency Medicine) has agreed to serve as Interim Section Head for the Section of Emergency Medicine also effective January 1st. Dr. Mistry joined that faculty in June 2013 and is currently the Director of Research for the Section.

U.S. News & World Report Rankings – Reputational Survey
With local, state and federal election day now in the rearview mirror, a reminder to physician faculty to participate in the upcoming U.S. News & World Report Best Hospital rankings reputational survey.

To be eligible to receive and vote in the U.S. News survey, physician faculty members must have an active and currently up-to-date Doximity profile by November 15.

Current Board certification is a key profile criteria for the 10 surveyed specialties (Cardiology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & Transplant Hepatology, Hematology/Oncology, Neonatal/Perinatal, Nephrology, Child Neurology, Orthopedic Surgery, Pulmonary, and Urology).

Other important profile information required to ensure you receive a survey includes CHCO selected as a site of practice, Colorado Medical License with 2019 expiration year listed, and a CHCO or SOM email address.

Faculty with questions regarding their Doximity profile should contact Ani Ermoyan at or 720-777-3063.

Anna Villarreal Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds Fund
Anna Villarreal was a member of the Department of Pediatrics Administrative Team at Children’s Hospital Colorado from March 2011 until her untimely death on November 30, 2017. Anna was a valued colleague and friend to many in our Department, known for her dedication, dependability, and uplifting smile and sense of humor.

Among the Department’s programs that Anna supported is Pediatric Grand Rounds, a weekly series of high quality presentations on a wide range of topics related to child health attended by University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado faculty, trainees, and staff. 

One of the elements of Pediatric Grand Rounds that Anna particularly championed is the Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds Visiting Professorship Awards program. These awards, granted annually, are preferentially used to give junior faculty the opportunity to invite and host visiting experts to deliver Pediatric Grand Rounds and provide additional teaching sessions during their visits.

In partnership with the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, the Department of Pediatrics established the Anna Villarreal Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds Fund to support the Visiting Professorship Awards program. Toward establishing an endowed fund in Anna’s name, the Department aims to raise $50,000 by December 31, 2018. To donate in memory of Anna, please visit the donation website.

Faculty Interest Group Updates
The Junior Faculty Interest Group (JFIG) will host a “Meet & Greet” for JFIG members and interested members on November 8 from 7:30-9:00 a.m. in the CHCO Faculty Lounge. Breakfast sandwiches available, first come first served.

As always, for these and other exciting Department of Pediatrics news stories, please visit our Pediatrics News web page.


Stephen R. Daniels, MD, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Pediatrics | University of Colorado School of Medicine
Pediatrician-in-Chief | Children’s Hospital Colorado