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May 2019 Department Newsletter


Dear Faculty and Friends,

Welcome to the May 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!


Children’s Hospital Colorado Medical Staff Dinner Award Winners

Congratulations to those Department of Pediatrics faculty who were recognized at the Children’s Hospital Colorado Annual Meeting and Medical Staff Dinner held on May 2.

Ricka Messer, MD, PhD (Assistant Professor, Section of Child Neurology; pictured) is the Century Award winner. The Century Award recognizes a staff member with five or fewer years of training who has made major contributions to improving child health through committee work, leadership and advocacy. Dr. Messer’s clinical interests include acquired brain injuries and acute neurologic issues.

Outstanding Service Awards were given to three Department of Pediatrics faculty. Jenny Soep, MD (Associate Professor, Section of Rheumatology) received the award for Hospital-Based service. Matt Dorighi, MD (Pediatric Care Network – Cherry Creek Pediatrics) received the award for Community-Based service. Dr. Dorighi is a graduate of the Department of Pediatrics residency program. Mona Jacobson, CPNP-PC (Section of Child Neurology) received the Advanced Practice Provider outstanding service award.

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit received the Quality and Patient Safety Award. The unit has consistently performed among the best in the nation on clinical quality standards as measured by Virtual Pediatric Systems (VPS). When considering risk-adjusted mortality (effectiveness) and risk-adjusted length of stay (efficiency), our PICU team results demonstrate better patient survival at a lower cost than expected given the complexity of this severely ill patient population.


Dispelling Myths About Childhood Vaccines

As highlighted in Dean Reilly’s weekly School of Medicine message, a shout out to Jessica Cataldi, MD (Assistant Professor, Section of Infectious Diseases), Sean O’Leary, MD (Associate Professor, Section of Infectious Diseases), and Anne Frank, MD (Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics), who have been working diligently to address the falsehoods offered by those opposed to vaccinations.

Their efforts have been featured in numerous recent news reports, including the Denver Post, KOA, and NBC’s Today show.


Clinical Immunology Program Receives Center Designation & Funding

Under the direction of Elena Hsieh, MD (Assistant Professor), Cullen Dutmer, MD (Assistant Professor), and Vijaya Knight, MD, PhD (Associate Professor), in the Section of Allergy & Immunology, the clinical immunology program has been granted $150,000 and designated as a Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic & Research Center. 

The designation and funding comes from the Jeffrey Modell Foundation (JMF), an international, non-profit, organization dedicated to helping individuals and family members affected by primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDD). Funding is intended to support educational activities for patients and physicians, with the goal of raising awareness across Colorado about the importance of early detection of PIDD. 

Treatment options for children with these complex conditions are targeted toward the specific immune defects and can include bone marrow transplantation, immunoglobulin (antibody) replacement, preventative antibiotics, and unique strategies to manage autoimmune disease.


Celebrating Diversity

The Department of Pediatrics Diversity and Inclusion Committee celebrated a Week of Difference April 8 through April 12.

Events included a TED Talk discussion about diversity hiring for faculty, as well as the importance of having a diversity plan for attracting underrepresented in medicine (URiM) students. During the week, students from Aurora Central High School (pictured) were welcomed to campus for a half-day of learning about opportunities within the medical field.

The week concluded with Diversity Inclusion Grand Rounds featuring guest speaker Alden Landry, MD, MPH (Faculty Assistant Director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Community Partnership, Harvard Medical School).

Together with Brandi Freeman, MD (Assistant Professor, Section of General Pediatrics and DOP Director of Diversity), Dr. Landry lead a discussion on the importance of having a diverse faculty in relationship to delivering patient-centered care and improving health outcomes.


Focus on Advocacy

The Department of Pediatrics was well represented at the recent American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Legislative Conference held April 7-9 in Washington, D.C.

During the conference, participants received instruction on how to become effective child health advocates and experience in the legislative process through hands-on work sessions.

DOP attendees included Maya Haasz, MD (Assistant Professor, Section of Emergency Medicine), Julian Benavidez, MD (2nd year resident), Edwin Asturias, MD (Associate Professor, Section of Infectious Diseases), and David Keller, MD (Professor and Vice Chair of Clinical Strategy and Transformation).

On the final day of the conference, attendees visited their congressional offices to advocate for the passage of comprehensive, common-sense policies to protect children from gun violence.


Psychology Corner

Did you know that the Department’s faculty includes more than 50 clinical psychologists?

Recognizing this growing and critically important group of providers to our multi-disciplinary care teams, the Department recently hosted two “psychology town hall” forums on April 8 and April 30.

DOP Chair Dr. Steven Daniels and Rebecca Wilson, PsyD (Director of Psychology, Section of Developmental Pediatrics/JFK Partners and Chair of Psychology, Children’s Hospital Colorado) led a discussion with clinical psychologist colleagues focusing on the challenges and opportunities facing this faculty group.

Key take away messages from these forums are the importance of recognizing the contributions of psychologists to the advocacy, clinical, research and teaching missions of the Department, and of the need for continued communication and team building throughout the Department. Thank you to all the faculty who participated in these forums.


Faculty Interest Group Update

The PhD and Junior Faculty Interest Groups will present “Now What? How to Develop a Project after Receiving a Grant” on June 21 from 9-10:30 a.m. in Nighthorse Campbell 204. It will include information on the SARC Review Process, Team Management, and Compliance. Lunch will be served. Please RSVP by June 10. More information can be found on the PhDFIG web page.

The Junior Faculty Interest Group (JFIG) seeks nominations for new members. You may nominate yourself or another faculty member, or section heads may nominate faculty. Joining the group is a great opportunity to fulfill promotion service requirements. The deadline to submit is June 3. Visit the Junior Faculty web page for nomination information.

JFIG will host a Wellness Event on May 16 from noon-1:30 p.m. in Mt. Oxford. The event will include wellness information and tips, along with breakout groups for Mindfulness and Art Therapy. Please RSVP by May 10. Lunch will be provided.

JFIG will host a Junior Faculty Social event on June 13 from 4-6:30 p.m. at the Cedar Creek Pub (2100 N. Ursula St., north of Building 500/Fitzsimons). Junior faculty will have the opportunity to grab a free drink and appetizers, catch up, and network. Please RSVP by June 3.

The Instructor/Senior Instructor Spring Reception titled “Be Dynamic – Find a Way to Have your Say – Taking the Reins in Your Career Enhancement” will be held on June 13 from noon-1 p.m. in the Dori Biester Conference Room. The event will cover topics on career enrichment and advancement opportunities including advocacy, community outreach, and innovation. RSVPs are required, for heavy appetizers, beverages, and deserts will be provided. RSVP by June 3 to



Resident Research Day

Resident Research Day will be held on Friday, May 31, from noon-2 p.m. in Mt. Oxford, located in the Children’s Hospital Colorado 2nd Floor Conference Center.

Resident Research Day celebrates the research accomplishments of our residents and their faculty mentors.

Many of our residents participate in mentored-research projects, which are presented at Grand Rounds and displayed on poster boards at the Spring Poster Session. The featured speaker is an alum who has had a successful career in research and is an excellent mentor of junior faculty and residents. The 2019 speaker will be William W. Hay, Jr., MD (Professor, Section of Neonatology).

View the flyer to learn more


Pediatric Research Poster Session

The 2019 Spring Pediatric Research Poster Session will be held on Friday, May 17 from noon-2 p.m. in the Children’s Hospital Colorado 2nd Floor Conference Center.

Come see posters highlighting the exciting scientific activity being conducted by our research teams.

The Pediatric Committee on Fellowship Education will be awarding most outstanding posters in the categories of first-, second- and third-year fellow.

Learn more and register on the CCTSI website. 


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