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High school students get look at health care careers

CU Anschutz researcher Tamara Terzian

Tamara Terzian, PhD, a Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and CU Cancer Center researcher, assists high school students with their DNA extraction as part of a shadow day at CU Anschutz.

Eyes widened among the high school students when Neil Box, PhD, an assistant professor of dermatology in the CU School of Medicine, held up ultraviolet (UV) images of faces – their faces – that showed sunburn damage lurking under the surface of their skin.

A lot of dark splotches indicated a history of intense sun exposure to the skin. Faces with few splotches indicated that the student has practiced good sun safety – i.e. faithfully applying sunscreen.

Twenty-two high schoolers from the Career Education Center (CEC), a high school in Denver Public Schools, visited the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus on Thursday for a shadow day that offered close-up insight into research and healthcare-related fields. A group of 20 other CEC students enjoyed a CU Anschutz field trip earlier in the month.

CU Anschutz Assistant Professor Neil Box

Neil Box, PhD, an assistant professor of dermatology, explains his research team’s study into genes involved in predisposing a person to melanoma during a shadow day at CU Anschutz.

Box and Tamara Terzian, PhD, who are investigators in the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and the CU Cancer Center, along with support from Christian Valtierra, assistant director in the Office of Inclusion and Outreach, led the tours on both occasions.

‘Genuine sense’ of lab work

Before the students broke into two groups – touring separately, each group visited the Box and Terzian melanoma research labs in Research 1 North as well as the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine – Box explained that they would see actual cutting-edge research being performed. “We want to give you a genuine sense of what it’s like to work in a research lab,” he said. “A lot of the things you are going to see today have provided the evidence basis for the current standard of practice in much of the health care field.”

One of the students, Jose, said he had no idea that this level of research took place at CU Anschutz. “I just thought it was a normal school on this campus,” he said. “I like how they look at your DNA and try to figure out if you have any diseases.”

He was in the group that made its first stop in the DNA extraction and UV activity laboratory. The students donned lab coats then learned how to perform their own cheek swab. They each produced a research-ready DNA sample and had their facial picture taken by the UV imager.

High school students visit CU Anschutz lab

Students from the Career Education Center sit for ultraviolet images of their faces in a melanoma research lab at CU Anschutz as part of shadow day.

Subjects for a current Box-led study into molecular signatures of lifetime UV exposure went through a similar process. The research has determined which genes are involved in predisposing a person to skin disease, such as melanoma. “Your history of sun exposure and your DNA determines your damage score (or predisposition level),” Box said. “What the students are seeing here for their career experience is within the context of our real, ongoing research. This study isn’t even published yet. We’re working on the analysis and getting it finalized for publication right now.”

‘This experience is relevant’

The CEC students are in a biomedical class and recently completed a unit on DNA, including extraction of DNA from a strawberry. But the CU Anschutz tour took their understanding of genetic coding to another level – a very visual level.

“Health care careers hinge on what goes on in the research lab, so we think having this experience is relevant to them in a lot of ways,” said Box, who also recently spoke at CEC. “Hopefully, today’s shadow day will inform them when it comes to making their own career decisions.

“Also, by coupling the research with our sun safety message, we hope to inform them about good, healthy behaviors,” he said.

Jose said the tour was “cool” as well as eye-opening. “I’m interested in doing autopsies and forensic research,” he said.

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Physicians make historic visit to Cuba


A delegation from CU Anschutz and Children’s Hospital Colorado visited Cuba this month. They were the first group of pediatricians to visit the island since the U.S. normalized relations.

By David Kelly

AURORA, Colo. (Feb. 26, 2016) – When Dr. Stephen Berman stepped off a plane in Havana earlier this month, he wasn’t just leading a historic medical mission to Cuba, he was in many ways coming home.

Berman and his wife Elaine have been inextricably tied to the island nation for generations. Members of their family had fled the pogroms of Tsarist Russia for Cuba in the early 1900s.

They arrived penniless on a creaking ship, learned to sew and eventually started a successful retail business. An old black and white photo on Berman’s office wall shows Elaine’s grandfather, a leader of the Havana Jewish community, standing beside Albert Einstein during his visit to Cuba in 1930.

Over the years, Berman has gone back and forth to the Caribbean country but this was different.

This time the director of the Center for Global Health at the Colorado School of Public Health was leading the first delegation of pediatricians to visit Cuba co-sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pan American Health Organization since the U.S. normalized relations. It was a historic trip, one aimed at reestablishing ties between medical professionals at a time when relations between the two nations seem to be thawing.

“They saw our arrival as a sign their world was changing,” he said. “And in a very real sense it is.”

Enduring legacy of trade embargo

Berman co-led the delegation with Dr. James Perrin of Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. Both are past presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The dozen or so travelers included top specialists from CU Anschutz and Children’s Hospital Colorado, eager to see how Cuba had been faring under a half-century trade embargo and what they could learn from each other.

What they found were like-minded professionals – proud and highly trained – making the best of what they had. Medications, blood pressure cuffs, monitors and microscopes were all in short supply, yet medical outcomes were in some cases similar to this country.

Local reporters, keenly aware of the significance of the visit, swiftly descended.

“They asked if the trade embargo would be lifted,” Berman said. “I said it would require an Act of Congress and during a contentious presidential election year that would be difficult.”

The embargo took effect in 1960 at a time of escalating tensions with the Marxist regime of Fidel Castro. The result has been an isolated and impoverished nation 50 miles from Miami Beach. Many, including Berman, consider the embargo a Cold War relic out of step in today’s world.

“The embargo is not in the best interests of either country,” he said.


An infant receiving treatment in a Cuban hospital.

Lectures and illustrations

The group traveled the island, getting a feel for Cuba’s overall health care system. They spent time at the William Soler Children’s Hospital in Havana, one of the best hospitals in Cuba. The daughter of Che Guevara, Castro’s late comrade and famed revolutionary, is a nurse there.

Dr. Frederic Deleyiannis, chief of pediatric plastic surgery at Children’s, was giving a presentation on treating cleft lip and palates when his Cuban colleagues asked if he could draw the procedures.

“I spent a fair amount of time drawing the operations on a chalkboard,” he said. “Their surgical techniques were similar and the questions they asked were very sophisticated. They were glad to hear that the way they do things is very much like the way we do things.”

Yet more complex craniofacial operations remain unavailable in Cuba, Deleyiannis said, and other methods of reconstruction, such as microvascular surgery, are hard if not impossible to come by.

But overall, he said, the Cuban doctors did extremely well under often difficult circumstances.

The CU Anschutz  physicians gave lectures on a range of subjects. Edward Goldson talked about delayed development in children. Amy Brooks-Kayal discussed treating epilepsy. Jim Todd held a session on staphylococcal infections. Stuart Cohen lectured on pertussis, Adam Rosenberg on care of preterm babies and Joe Wathen on emergency medicine. And there were plenty of others.

Cuban physicians told Dr. Kenny Chan, professor of otolaryngology and chair of the Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Children’s, that they did not have an operating microscope at the children’s hospital in Cienfuegos.

“That is like otolaryngology in 1940s America,” Chan said. “My heart goes out to them. Even though certain segments of their health care are really advanced, this brings home the fact that health care in Cuba outside of Havana may not up to par with developed Western countries.”

Cuba also lacked universal hearing screenings for infants, usually not testing a child until age three.

“If you wait until a child is three to test for hearing loss you will miss a lot of infants that could have been helped with hearing aids,” Chan said. “Dr. Berman and I spoke to pediatricians at William Soler Hospital about whether Cuba could adopt some sort of universal infant hearing screening. We would be happy to help them come up with a program if they are interested.”


A young patient in a Cuban hospital.

A commitment to children

Yet there were bright spots as well. Premature birth rates are low in Cuba due to universal prenatal care. There is one doctor for every 300 people, focusing specifically on caring for pregnant women. And health care is free.

“If problems develop in pregnancy the mother is sent to a maternity home and stays there until she gives birth,” Berman said.

While visiting an intensive care unit, the doctors saw babies with irreversible neurological damage on ventilators. The hospital planned to keep them on life support until they were old enough to go home where care would continue.

“I thought that was incredible,” Berman said. “They were ventilating these babies over the long term. With very few resources they were committing what they had to their children.”

He called the trip a `great first step’ and hopes someday for regular exchanges between Cuban and American doctors.

“We came away with a genuine admiration for what they were able to accomplish,” Berman said. “I think the trip really opened the eyes of both Cuban and American pediatricians.”

Dr. Berman will conduct a panel discussion March 23, 2016 entitled `Reflections on pediatric health care in Cuba’ at Ed 2 North, Room 1103.












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2016 Donor Dinner Judi and Joe Wagner

As Judi and Joe Wagner achieved business successes in Colorado, they made sure to give back, making numerous philanthropic contributions that have touched countless organizations. At the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Judi and Joe are passionate about research in women’s health, diabetes and cancer. By creating the Judith and Joseph Wagner Endowed Chair in Women’s Health Research, the Center for Women’s Health Research will be able to support future generations of physicians and scientists focused on women’s health. You can support the Center for Women’s Health Research.

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Preserving Memories With Innovative Therapies

Life is the sum of our memories. Nothing should erase these stories of our lives. But that’s the reality faced by over 5 million Americans. Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with mortality rates increasing 85 percent since just 2000. At the present rate, half of us will face this disease. The other half will be caregivers.

At CU Anschutz, many of the most esteemed physicians and researchers in the field carry with them the will and wisdom to fight this devastating affliction. Their expertise is attracting other bright minds from around the globe to CU Anschutz to join the fight to preserve our memories and our lives. This convergence of top talent, resources and research is allowing us to exponentially increase the speed toward discovery and to improve the lives of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Huntington Potter is putting together pieces of the Alzheimer’s disease puzzle. He came upon an unexpected discovery when he looked at the chromosomal makeup of his patients. Just like people with Down syndrome, there was a telltale abnormality: a third copy of chromosome 21. It was a familiar trisomy. But perhaps more than that, it was an unprecedented opportunity.

The link he uncovered provides a path toward advancing the science behind, and care for, both conditions. More incredibly, it presents the potential to delay or even eliminate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in some patients. The local presence of the world’s only Down syndrome research institute, the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, has made way for a powerful partnership to take shape with CU’s Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Together, they’ve formed a comprehensive hub of innovation where Dr. Potter and more than 20 independent labs are collaborating in their study of both Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome. They have significantly increased the breadth and depth of research into each condition, improved access to clinical trials, and face a profound likelihood, each and every day, that the work they’re doing will change lives, and in turn, the world.

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High school football helmets offer similar protections despite prices

Despite prices, promises and even ratings systems, all helmets approved for high school football players appear to offer similar protection against concussion, according to a new study from the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus .

“All of the approved helmets evaluated in our study performed similarly,” said Dawn Comstock, PhD, senior author of the study and associate professor of epidemiology at the Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research (PIPER) at the Colorado School of Public Health. “Increased cost does not necessarily translate to improved safety.”

The study, the first national football concussion research evaluating how helmets performed when worn by young athletes playing the game rather than how helmets performed in laboratory impact testing, also found that older, reconditioned helmets performed similarly to new helmets as long as the reconditioning was done in a timely manner.

The researchers examined high school football concussion and helmet data collected from 2008-2009 through 2012-2013 as part of the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System, High School RIO (Reporting Information Online), directed by Comstock.

They found that participating schools reported 2,900 football concussions per 3,528,790 `athletic exposures’ (AE) or one athlete participating in one practice or competition. That came out to an overall rate of 8.2 concussions per 10,000 AEs.

When comparing concussions sustained by athletes wearing different helmets, the researchers found the average number of concussion symptoms, symptom resolution time and time until the injured athlete was released to return to play were similar among football players wearing the most common make and model of helmet.

Dawn Comstock, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz

Helmets that were not new but which had been reconditioned within the 12 months prior to use, performed similarly to new helmets. But players wearing old helmets which had not been recently reconditioned suffered longer concussion symptoms than those wearing new helmets.

The data indicated that helmet rating scales may be somewhat misleading to parents or schools considering helmet purchases as higher ratings based on laboratory testing did not necessarily correlate to increased protection “on the field” for high school football players.

“We found helmets with high ratings performed similarly to helmets with lower ratings,” Comstock said. “At the same time, the most expensive helmet did not appear to provide significantly increased protection compared to less expensive helmets.”

The study found that as long as the helmets had a NOCSAE or National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment seal, a National Federation of State High School Association requirement for high school football, they provided similar protection.

Comstock said parents can play an active role in ensuring that the football helmets worn by their children are safe by asking how long it has been since a helmet issued to their child has been reconditioned.  Parents should insist that their schools are following the reconditioning guidelines of manufacturers.

“Many parents don’t think to ask if the helmet issued to their child is new or previously used or, if not new, when it was last reconditioned,” Comstock said.  “Parents should be asking questions and not assuming that the helmet assigned to their child is safe.”

The study was published online this week in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.



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Gail and Dave Liniger: A landmark gift

Known as revolutionaries in real estate, Gail and Dave Liniger co-founded the real estate giant RE/MAX International in 1973. A culture of philanthropy is built into both their business interests and personal lives as they support a number of causes around Colorado ranging from health care to military veteran support through Combat to Classroom scholarships. With the largest real estate gift in the University of Colorado’s history, Gail and Dave helped make CU South Denver a reality, expanding educational opportunities to students and communities in south metro Denver. See how you can support programs opening doors for military veterans and expand educational opportunities at CU South Denver.

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Alice Deanda celebrates 50th anniversary with CU

Alice Deanda, program assistant in the Department of Pathology, began working at University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) in 1966 and was honored for her years of work with the University of Colorado on Feb. 4.

“When I started working we used typewriters, carbon paper and mimeograph machines to make copies,” Deanda said. Sometimes she would have to walk the paperwork to another department, which was one of her favorite parts of the job. While her workplace has gone through drastic changes with the introduction of technology such as the computer and UCH’s 2007 move from Ninth Avenue to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, her personal life also changed when she took over as her mother’s primary caregiver.

Alice Deanda and Gary Brown of CU Anschutz

Alice Deanda with Gary Brown, a colleague in the Department of Pathology. Photos courtesy of Lisa Litzenberger.

Deanda retired from her position in the Department of Pediatrics Section of Infectious Diseases in 2000 but continued to work part time after that. She began working in the Department of Pathology in the CU School of Medicine in 2008.

“I’ve always liked working at the university. I’ve never thought about going to work anyplace else,” she said. “As long as I can walk into work, I’m coming in. And I’m 75.” She also enjoys the 20-mile drive to work and has never found it difficult.

Praise from colleagues

Deanda’s coworkers all have overwhelmingly positive things to say about her.

“Alice is remarkable for her reliability, expertise and professionalism,” said Ann Thor, MD, chair of the Department of Pathology. “She is a joy to work with. We have enjoyed knowing her large family as well.”

Deanda’s supervisor, Matt Bilby, assistant administrator for the Department of Pathology, first met Alice when he began as a student worker in the Office of Grants and Contracts in 1990 and was later responsible for connecting Deanda to the Department of Pathology.

Alice Deanda at CU Anschutz

Alice Deanda is joined by colleagues for her 50th anniversary celebration at CU Anschutz.

“When I first started here as a student worker it was a very close-knit community,” Bilby said. “In the time she has worked for pathology and me, that same sense of community has always continued.”

“I like to brag that I’ve been around for 16 years in the Department of Pathology, but it doesn’t even come close to touching the amount of time Alice has worked for (the university),” Bilby said.

Deanda found that it was difficult to get a promotion early in her career within a single department. “I kind of kept moving with the increase — let’s put it that way. If I could get an increase, I moved. Or, if I couldn’t get one, I moved.”

In the last 50 years, Deanda has worked with many people and has seen coworkers come and go. She has been with the Department of Pathology longer than any other single department and is quick to make impressions on co-workers new to the workplace.

“I’ve only known Alice for the last couple of months, but she’s a very warm and welcoming person,” said Rose Segawa, accounting manager. “I really enjoy working with her. We got along right away.”

Adapts to many changes

Deanda takes care of her mother, who is 93 years old and has dementia. Her sister, Josie Ponce, acts as a caregiver during the two days Deanda works at CU Anschutz. Other family members often fill in when necessary or to provide a break.

“In 2011 I moved my mother in with me because she wasn’t eating and couldn’t take care of herself anymore. She didn’t have dementia at the time,” Deanda said.

Shortly after the move, her mother broke both hips. “From then on,” Deanda said, “her mind started to go, where she doesn’t remember who people are, but physically she is very healthy.”

“The thing that I really appreciate, especially with this department, is that they are flexible in letting me work when I can. If my sister can’t come to the house to take care of my mother, I can’t come to work,” Deanda said.

Deanda’s time spent at work are “the only 16 hours of her life that she isn’t taking care of her mother,” Segawa said. “I commend her to be able to adapt to all the changes CU has gone through.”

Deanda said she is a “real Colorado native” and wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. When she isn’t working, she enjoys cooking from scratch and spending time with her family, particularly on special occasions like Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. She also enjoys shoveling her own walkway when it snows.

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Innovative program puts the punch on Parkinson’s

Power Punch Parkinsons program in Denver

Anthony Mora, left, who was lightweight alternate to the U.S. Boxing Team for the 2000 Olympics, challenges PPP participants to give him their best combination of punches. “I want to make it fun,” he says. “I want to get their confidence up and let them pop off some steam, some stress. I help them believe they can do it.”

With a glint in her eye and clenched jaw, Tina Schoenherr rears back a gloved fist and swings at the target held up by Anthony Mora.

Thuds of fists on punching bags and Mora’s rapid-fire instructions inside the ring – “One-two, Tina! C’mon, one-two!” – fill the basement gym that could easily double as a set for an old-school boxing film, a la “Rocky.” The room pulses with music and motion – mostly middle-aged folks who are strenuously exercising both in and outside the ropes.

It’s another sweat-soaked Saturday of Power Punch Parkinson’s (PPP), but the acronym’s last ‘P’– Parkinson’s – is currently the furthest thing from the participants’ minds.

PPP, a program that gives Parkinson’s patients intensive, non-contact workouts, was co-founded by Mora, former Major League Baseball pitcher Rick Schwartz and Lee Chow, PT, DPT, a 2015 alumnus of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Physical Therapy Program. All three men are instructors in the non-profit program, which is sponsored by the Parkinson Association of the Rockies.

While the ground-breaking program they devised may look like boxing, nobody actually gets punched.

CU Anschutz connection

Here at Red Shield Community Center in the Five Points neighborhood, the program is run by Mora and volunteers from the CU and Regis University’s physical therapy programs. Since PPP launched in November 2014, about 100 Parkinson’s patients have participated in the heart of Denver – plus scores more at PPP locations in Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs – enjoying the fitness and social interaction offered by the weekly classes.

“It’s just been amazing – it’s a fabulous program,” Schoenherr says. “The volunteers from CU and Anthony work with you individually. Now I’ve got stability, I’ve got energy, and my balance is 100 percent better.”

Sammi Stolper of CU Anschutz

Sammi Stolper, left, a second-year physical therapy student at CU Anschutz, assists a participant with a workout station at Power Punch Parkinson’s.

Sammi Stolper, a second-year physical therapy student at CU Anschutz, got hooked on being a volunteer a year ago. “It’s really the people here that keep you coming back,” she says. “You see incredible changes in the participants. They open up, they punch harder and it carries over to hope for them.”

When she graduates, Stolper would like to replicate the PPP model in her home of Arizona, where no similar program exists.

‘A social outlet’

Schwartz, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians from 1968-71, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 16 years ago. Three years ago, he got the idea that a fitness program centered on boxing – a sport that demands mobility, strength, coordination and balance – could help Parkinson’s patients. He met Mora, a former professional boxer, at the gym one day and then Cheryl Seifert, executive director of the Parkinson Association of the Rockies, connected the two athletes to Chow, who was working on a business-plan project for one of his physical therapy classes at CU.

“There’s nothing like this program in Colorado,” says Chow, now a physical therapist at Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton. “It gives people with Parkinson’s a social outlet.”

Lee Chow, alumnus of CU Anschutz

Lee Chow, an alumnus of the CU Physical Therapy Program, co-founded the Power Punch Parkinson’s program.

Intense aerobic activity has been found, in animal studies, to release protein compounds that make the brain more “plastic” and better able to resist degeneration, Chow says. “Parkinson’s is a progressive disease,” he says, “so a good outcome is to slow or reach a plateau with your symptoms.”

Participants at the basement gym extol the program for giving them confidence, strength and camaraderie.

‘Treats us as athletes’

Hal Pottle comes to the classes twice a week and loves the adrenalized feel of being a boxer. “Everyone here treats us as athletes, not as someone who has Parkinson’s, which is a pretty high honor,” he says.

Valerie Leonard watches her husband, Bob, go through the various workout stations as a peppy Madonna song blares from the speakers. “There’s a lot of camaraderie here,” she says. “It’s almost like a support group, but instead of sitting and talking, they’re working out together.”

Anthony Mora teaches boxing in Denver

Anthony Mora, right, gives a Power Punch Parkinson’s participant targets to punch at during a recent class in Denver.

Schwartz says the key to PPP’s success – the program has sights to expand to Vail, Grand Junction and Greeley – is the volunteer assistance from the CU Physical Therapy Program. “They’re really dedicated and they make the difference in getting everybody through the system. CU should be proud of them,” he says.

With Parkinson’s, Schwartz says, people aren’t necessarily supposed to get better. But he sees PPP participants gain mental confidence and physical strength all the time. “I’ve seen miracles … I’ve seen people get better, which is the miracle.”

People like Nick Peterson, 65, who learned he had Parkinson’s 41 years ago. “I found out I have a helluva right (hook),” Peterson says with a smile. “This program gives me a feeling of power that I haven’t had in a long time.”

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Give Kids a Smile event lives up to its name

Allie Robinson, Katelyn McClure and Eric Van Zytveld

Allie Robinson receives a dental cleaning and examination from Eric Van Zytveld, DDS and Katelyn McClure at Give Kids a Smile.

Eight-year-old Alexandra “Allie” Robinson loves going to the dentist. Not only that, she knows how important is.

“You have to have healthy teeth,” she explained. “I have class pictures coming up, and I have to have a good smile.”

Allie does have a great smile. She shows it while she chats with Eric Van Zytveld, DDS, a 1973 alumnus of the School of Dental Medicine and Katelyn McClure, a fourth-year dental student graduating in May. Van Zytveld gets laughs from Allie with jokes about elephants. McClure gets even more laughs while she cleans Allie’s teeth. The instruments tickle Allie, who also thinks the red solution applied to her teeth to show areas with plaque looks hilarious.

Big smiles from children are all part of the Colorado Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile event (GKAS), hosted at the School of Dental Medicine (SDM) on the Anschutz Medical Campus on Feb. 5. GKAS offers children 17 and younger from low-income families the opportunity to receive free dental care.

From veterans to children

Seeing children fill the chairs in the SDM for a day is a change for GKAS Director Heidi Tyrrell, who runs the school’s Heroes Clinic, which serves more than 2,600 full-time veteran students from the University of Colorado.

Tyrrell staffs the event entirely with volunteers, including local dentists, hygienists, and SDM faculty and students. Throughout the day volunteers perform cleanings and fluoride treatments, and apply fillings, sealants, stainless steel crowns—whatever the children need.

“It’s a great day to do things for the community—particularly for kids who are uninsured or underinsured,” Tyrrell said. “This is one way we nurture that philanthropic spirit in our students.”

Lily and Waylon Walker

Lily Walker chats with the tooth fairy at Give Kids a Smile. Lily was brought to the event by her father, Waylon Walker, a CU Denver student veteran majoring in biology.

Senior students are able to work directly with patients under the supervision of faculty. Beginning students can still help out through skits, demonstrations and other activities to entertain kids in the waiting room. Some even dress as the tooth fairy and had out gifts to patients after their exams.

“Dentistry can produce anxiety in even the most rational person,” Tyrrell said. “But if we can create a happy, fun environment, that sets the tone for a lifetime.”

Volunteers give back and educate

That opportunity to educate and give back is what has made Van Zyteveld to volunteer for GKAS for more than 10 years.

“To me this is a big part of my practice giving back and helping those populations who are underserved and can’t get care,” Van Zytveld said. “It’s always touching to see kids who oftentimes haven’t had good experiences with dentists.”

McClure uses the event as an opportunity to not only work with kids but also to educate their parents on how to help prevent dental problems from occurring. Some of these preventative measures include the basics such as proper brushing and flossing techniques, as well as education on proper nutrition and dietary habits—all of which can affect oral health over time.

“Having a preventative plan is what we strive for,” McClure said. “We fix their teeth, but if there is a problem, we are really focused on preventative measures.

Patrick Robinson

Patrick Robinson is at ease in the hands of Give Kids a Smile volunteers.

A welcoming environment

Allie and her brother, Patrick, were brought by their mother, Amanda, after she heard about the service offered by GKAS. Amanda also thought that GKAS might be a bit better for 4-year-old Patrick, who did not share his sister’s enthusiasm for trips to the dentist.

“Everyone has been really nice and welcoming,” Amanda said. “Patrick is very nervous, so I am glad for it. A regular doctor might have been terrifying for him. I think he’s going to have a good experience with it.”

Amanda was right. At the end of their cleaning, Allie still wore a big smile, and Patrick was far more at ease. When asked what she thought of her visit, Allie offered one word: “Awesome!”

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Donors celebrated for their passion and generosity

Donor generosity that touches every corner of Colorado and extends across the globe – from behavioral health services to new education programs in the South Denver area, from assistance to persons with disabilities to accelerated research on women’s health – took center stage at the Donor Recognition Dinner.

A crowd of 400 attended the ninth annual event, a celebration of the passionate people behind philanthropic gifts to CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, in the Seawall Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Feb. 11.

Bensons at CU Donor Dinner

CU President Bruce Benson and CU First Lady Marcy Benson welcome the crowd to the Ninth Annual CU Denver and CU Anschutz Donor Recognition Dinner (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

Students in spotlight

Taking the spotlight before dinner were examples of innovative student projects, and programmatic research and service. Physical Therapy students showed how they work with children to strengthen muscles; Bioengineering students demonstrated 3D printer technology that advances health care; Mechanical Engineering students presented their HyperLynx concept for high-speed travel; and the National Center for Media Forensics in the College of Arts & Media showcased technologies that have practical applications in everyday life.

Linigers at CU Denver Donor Dinner

Gail and Dave Liniger received special recognition at the Ninth Annual CU Denver and CU Denver Donor Recognition Dinner (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

The CU Denver Chamber Music Ensemble performed during the cocktail hour, followed by Lark, CU Denver’s all-women a cappella group. The award-winning group jazzed up the evening with rousing vocals and precision choreography.

CU President Bruce Benson and his wife, CU First Lady Marcy Benson, welcomed the huge gathering and thanked the university’s donors for their vital contributions. “Besides being our friends, all of you exemplify the powerful partnership that exists between donors and the University of Colorado,” Marcy Benson said. “Together, we make our community, state and country better places. We couldn’t do everything we do without you.”

This year’s honorees

Compelling video stories highlighted the special contributions of each donor recognized:

  • Real estate revolutionaries Gail and Dave Liniger, who made the largest real estate contribution in CU’s history, the Liniger Building at CU South Denver. The building, conveniently located where one-third of metro Denver’s population lives, offers courses in engineering, public health, nursing and business, with more programs planned.
    Campion at CU Donor Dinner

    Lynn Campion of the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation receives a donor recognition gift from CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman at the Ninth Annual CU Denver and CU Anschutz Donor Recognition Dinner (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

  • The Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation, which in 2015 made the largest programmatic gift in CU Anschutz history, investing $10 million in the University of Colorado Depression Center (renamed the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center). The gift ensures that researchers and clinicians can provide the best patient care and conduct leading-edge mental health research in a state-of-the-art facility.
  • Judi and Joe Wagner, whose philanthropic interests at CU Anschutz include the Center for Women’s Health Research, the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes and the CU Cancer Center. In 2013, the couple established the Judith and Joseph Wagner Endowed Chair in Women’s Health Research, which is helping accelerate women’s health and sex difference research, supporting mentorship of future researchers, and expanding educational programs for the public and health care providers.
  • Sara and Bill Caile, who are longtime donors to the University of Colorado. Their recent focus has been with Assistive Technology Partners (ATP), which is a part of both CU Anschutz and CU Denver, within the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Bill Caile is chair of the ATP Advisory Board, while the annual party the Cailes started 10 years ago, named Déjà vu Rendezvous, provides ongoing support for ATP. The Cailes were honored individually on behalf of the Déjà vu Rendezvous Steering Committee.

‘One of Denver’s top assets’

Wagners at CU Donor Dinner

Judi and Joe Wagner receive recognition at the Ninth Annual CU Denver and CU Anschutz Donor Recognition Dinner (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

CU Denver’s new leader, Chancellor Dorothy Horrell, PhD, said she’s been “amazed and inspired” by the tremendous outpouring of philanthropic support from the CU Denver community. Such generosity, she noted, allows the university to, among other things, spearhead important research and fund student scholarships – both essential to CU Denver’s goal of becoming a premier public urban research university.

“We want to be the university that is embraced as one of Denver’s top assets – one that both defines and is defined by the city we call home,” Horrell said. “The resources CU Denver has to offer – talent, research capability, advanced technologies, and understanding of local issues – all position us to do just that. … I look forward to getting to know other dedicated partners and benefactors like you who are absolutely essential to our ability to achieve ambitious goals.”

‘World-class leadership’

CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman spoke of ambitious goals as well. “Simply put, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus seeks to provide world-class leadership in health and health care in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain region and across the globe,” he said. “The new discoveries and developments that your support makes possible accelerate the incredible progress and innovation that we see on our campus every day.”

Elliman listed a few of the medical breakthroughs that occurred at CU Anschutz over just the past year, including a bionic eye transplant (UCHealth Eye Center) as well as a double-lung and liver transplant (University of Colorado Hospital Transplant Center).

“Our faculty are truly at the leading edge. Last year alone, we were issued a campus-record 27 U.S. patents and spun off 10 startup companies,” Elliman said. “Each of you makes that work possible, and I can’t thank you enough.”

‘Incredible work’

Cailes at CU Donor Dinner

Bill and Sara Caile receive recognition at the Ninth Annual CU Denver and CU Anschutz Donor Recognition Dinner (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

The thankfulness was mutual, as the honored donors praised the work and service of CU Denver and CU Anschutz. Judi and Joe Wagners’ investment ensures the continued growth of the Center for Women’s Health Research, which was founded in 2004 to increase knowledge about the impacts of cardiovascular disease and diabetes on women. The Wagner Chair is the first chair in women’s health research at CU, and is one of only a handful in the world.

“We are so happy and grateful for the recognition, but we want to push it back to all of you, because you are the ones who are making this university work so well,” Judi Wagner said. “We are just so grateful to play a small part of that incredible work.”

Joe Wagner got choked up as he said, “What you do is very important. It affects the lives of a lot of people.”

Chancellors at CU Donor Dinner

CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell thank generous donors at the Ninth Annual Donor Recognition Dinner. (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

Dave Liniger recounted how he and his wife, Gail, battled health issues that put both of them in the hospital for significant periods. “No matter how rich or powerful you are, if you end up in those circumstances you are weak … and you depend on the professionals that are trained by CU and other organizations to keep you alive and to give you hope for the future,” he said. “For me, it’s personally gratifying to see the CU College of Nursing training happening at (the Liniger Building at CU South Denver). I think that’s cool.”

Gail Liniger said she and Dave strongly support education and are gratified to see the Liniger Building now serve CU students in the fast-growing South Denver area. “What could be better than our affiliation now with CU?” she said.

‘Means so much’

The transformational commitment from the Johnson Foundation strengthens the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center, and will help remove the stigma around mental health.

Lynn Campion, chairman of the foundation’s Board of Trustees, walked to the stage to accept the recognition along with her daughter, Berit Campion. “It means so much to us to be able to help with mental health and furthering research in this area,” Lynn Campion said. “It’s such a big issue in our country.”

Lark at CU Donor Dinner

Lark, an a cappella group at CU Denver, performs at the Ninth Annual CU Denver and CU Anschutz Donor Recognition Dinner. (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

Bill Caile explained that he and his wife, Sara, have long enjoyed supporting the University of Colorado, noting that Sara’s parents were “great supporters of the School of Medicine.” Bill talked about how he was personally touched by the incredible work of Assistive Technology Partners in helping persons with disabilities. The Cailes, along with colleagues in the construction industry, a decade ago launched the Déjà vu Rendezvous.

“To this day,” Bill Caile said, “we’ve raised over $1 million for Assistive Technology Partners just from Déjà vu Rendezvous, and we now have over 100 sponsors every year that provide money for the event.”

Also receiving recognition were members of the CU Heritage Society. In addition to the standing ovations that greeted each of the featured honorees, a lengthy round of applause was given to the many Heritage Society members who support the university in their estate plans.

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