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Recycling waste acetone at teaching laboratories


Pam Nagafuji of the CU Denver Chemistry Department with the alcohol recycler

The Chemistry Department at the University of Colorado Denver is now recycling waste acetone that is generated in teaching laboratories.

Through conversations between the Chemistry Department and the university’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), it was discovered that the teaching labs at CU Denver could greatly benefit from reusing their waste acetone.

EHS realized its recycler, which was infrequently used, would be an endless resource at CU Denver; so EHS donated the recycler to the Chemistry Department.

‘Greater impact’

The recycler was previously located at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus but was underutilized because researchers there usually require very pure chemicals for their work.

“While safety is the primary mission of EHS, we also care greatly about sustainability,” said Ethan Carter, PhD, director of EHS. “Re-homing our solvent recycler to the Chemistry Department where it would have a greater impact was an easy decision.”

The recycler is a better fit for teaching labs because they use large amounts of acetone to wash glassware, as solvent for cooling baths, and even as reagents, all of which do not require the purity that is required in research labs where the requirement for precision is extremely high. Students in the teaching labs collect their acetone waste stream from their experiments and instead of disposing of it as waste, it is recycled and reused in the same labs.

Big savings for CU Denver labs

Since January, Pam Nagafuji, Organic Chemistry lab coordinator, has recycled 260 liters of waste acetone, saving the department over $700.

“We used to purchase about 15, 20-liter containers of acetone per semester, but with the acetone generated from the recycler we have only needed to purchase two containers this entire semester” says Cathy Rathbun, General Chemistry lab coordinator.

Rathbun and Nagafuji project future yearly savings from using the recycler at upwards of $1,500 per year. This is just one example of how the university is trying to make chemistry more environmentally friendly, says Nagafuji. “Recycling acetone diverts hazardous waste, is cost effective and is part of our green chemistry practice,” she says. “Other examples are consideration of atom economy and the use of solvent free reactions in our lab experiments.”

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Mice flown in space show nascent liver damage

In a discovery with implications for long-term spaceflight and future missions to Mars, a researcher at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has found that mice flown aboard the space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth with early signs of liver disease.

“Prior to this study we really didn’t have much information on the impact of spaceflight on the liver,” said the study’s lead author Karen Jonscher, PhD, an associate professor of anesthesiology and a physicist at CU Anschutz. “We knew that astronauts often returned with diabetes-like symptoms but they usually resolved quickly.”

Dr. Karen Jonscher, associate professor of anesthesiology and a physicist at CU Anschutz

But the prospect of liver damage raises new concerns.

The mice studied spent 13.5 days aboard the space shuttle. When they returned, Jonscher and her colleagues were able to collect liver samples. They found that spaceflight appeared to activate specialized liver cells that may go on to induce scarring and cause long-term damage to the organ.

We saw the beginning of nascent liver damage in just 13.5 days,” Jonscher said. “The mice also lost lean muscle mass. We have seen this same phenomenon in humans on bedrest – muscles atrophy and proteins break down into amino acids. The question is, how does that affect your liver?”

For years scientists have studied the impact of spaceflight on human physiology but most of the research has focused on bone, muscle, brain and cardiovascular function. Yet studies suggesting that astronauts who spent time in space developed diabetes-like symptoms link microgravity with metabolism and point toward the liver, the major organ of metabolism, as a possible target of the space environment.

Whether or not the liver itself is vulnerable to damage has remained an open question. And this research may help answer that.

The mice spent time orbiting the Earth on the final space shuttle flight in 2011. Once they returned home, teams of  scientists were allowed to share and study their internal organs.

Jonscher’s team found that spaceflight resulted in increased fat storage in the liver, comparing pair-fed mice on Earth to those on the shuttle. This was accompanied by a loss of retinol, an animal form of Vitamin A, and changes to levels of genes responsible for breaking down fats. As a result, mice showed signs of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and potential early indicators for the beginnings of fibrosis, which can be one of the more progressive consequences of NAFLD.

Space Shuttle Orbiting Earth stock photo

“It generally takes a long time, months to years, to induce fibrosis in mice, even when eating an unhealthy diet,” Jonscher said. “If a mouse is showing nascent signs of fibrosis without a change in diet after 13 ½ days, what is happening to the humans?”

With NASA planning longer deep space missions, including one to Mars which would take at least a year, these findings are significant.

“Whether or not this is a problem is an open question,” Jonscher said. “We need to look at mice involved in longer duration space flight to see if there are compensatory mechanisms that come into play that might protect them from serious damage.”

She pointed out that the stress of spaceflight and reentry to Earth might have also played a role in the liver damage.

“Further study in this area is merited and analysis of tissues harvested in space from mice flown aboard the International Space Station for several months may help determine whether long-term spaceflight might lead to more advanced hepatic injury and whether damage can be prevented,” she said.

The study appeared today in the journal PLOS ONE.

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Cherry Creek High student does nanoparticle research at CU Anschutz


When 16-year-old Hari Sowrirajan says, “You can’t just buy nanoparticles at the supermarket,” you realize quickly that this down-to-earth high school student is doing some out-of-this-world science.

What you don’t know is that Sowrirajan has been working with researchers at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences since he was a 13-year-old middle schooler—too young to step inside a CU Anschutz laboratory—all because he wrote a single email to a researcher he had never met.

How he got a foot in the door

Like many younger brothers, Sowrirajan was inspired by watching his older sister enter science fairs. By seventh grade, he decided to tackle his first project, manipulating carbon dioxide in water with cyanobacteria. Ready for new challenges in the eighth grade, he found an “intriguing” article about researchers introducing nanoparticles—particles between 1 and 100 nanometers in size—into water, focusing sunlight on the water and discovering that it boiled at a lower temperature.

“So much of our energy is generated by using fossil fuels to heat water,” Sowrirajan said. “If we could focus sunlight on nanoparticle-filled water, and the water produced steam at a lower temperature, the implications are profound.”

The eighth grader decided to spin his research off the article, trying to determine the optimal conditions for the process to work. Getting access to sunlight was not a problem, but the nanoparticles presented a far greater challenge. Undaunted, Sowrirajan did a Google search. The name Jared Brown, PhD, and the Nanotoxicology Laboratory popped up. With the help of his mother, Sowrirajan wrote an email to Brown.

“I have had young students in my lab before and it’s always fun,” said Brown. “Hari was the youngest, but his email was impressive because he already had a project outline, and so I wrote him back.”

“I was surprised and thrilled,” said Sowrirajan. “To this day, I don’t know why they responded and agreed to help.”


Hari Sowrirajan and Jonathan Shannahan discuss Hari’s current science fair project.


Conclusions from Hari’s current science fair project, which looks at how nanoparticles influence the epithelium.

What he learned at CU Anschutz

After Brown gave Sowrirajan a green light, Jonathan Shannahan, PhD, research assistant instructor in the Nanotoxicology Laboratory, took over as chief mentor to the young student.  Shannahan acquired the nanoparticles and prepared the samples. “We handled them for him in a safe manner to mitigate any danger,” Shannahan said. “It was a very ambitious project but he had the desire to succeed.”

Too young to work inside the lab, Sowrirajan picked up the materials and received guidance at CU Anschutz, did the experiments at home and then returned to the pharmacy school to discuss experimental design, look at the data and assess results with Shannahan.

Sowrirajan described that experiment as “a lot of trial and error,” but his fascination with nanoparticles—which can be found in car tires, printer toner, lotion and drug delivery systems—kept him going. His science project placed first in the Environmental Science category in the Denver metro-area science fair; he went on to the state fair where he again placed first in his category.

A year later, in ninth grade, Sowrirajan advanced even further to the International Science Fair in Pittsburgh with a project looking at how nanoparticles influence cardiovascular disease development.

This year, Sowrirajan tackled an even tougher project, studying how nanoparticles influence the epithelium, the thin tissue lining the lung. With few resources to guide his work, he found himself venturing into the unknown and collecting massive amounts of data.

“I learned so much about the scientific process,” he said. “You aren’t going to always know what’s going to happen.”

“When he started, I was always looking over his shoulder, but now we have developed trust,” Shannahan added. “At the beginning, he just wanted to work with nanoparticles because they are cool. Now, he is a functioning scientist and a part of our lab family.”


What he forgot to mention

Despite his scientific success at such a young age, Sowrirajan remains well-rounded. He is in the math club at Cherry Creek High School, where he also plays on the soccer team and runs track. He also plays the guitar and violin. Even with those accomplishments, he remains unassuming, so much so that during an interview he failed to mention one of his most significant accomplishments. Along with PhDs from CU Anschutz and Clemson University, he is listed as one of the authors on a scientific paper published by Brown’s lab, “Impact of silver and iron nanoparticle exposure on cholesterol uptake by macrophages.”

“Not too many high school students in the country have a published paper,” Brown said. “What he has accomplished is not unheard of, but he is unusual because he has done everything so well at such a young age.”

Sowrirajan also submitted an abstract of his work to the National Society of Toxicology for its annual meeting. He was accepted but he couldn’t go because of school commitments. Rather than drop him, the conference set him up on Skype, making him the first scientist in the history of the society to do a virtual presentation.

Sowrirajan has not yet decided what direction his career will take him after high school, but wherever he lands, he will bring with him years of professional research training thanks to Brown and Shannahan, and for that he is very grateful.

“When I was in elementary school, science was just glamorous explosions and test tubes filled with colorful solutions,” Sowrirajan said. “For better or for worse, I now know what it’s really like to work in a lab doing research that has the potential to impact millions of lives.”





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Dr. Holly Wyatt of CU Anschutz Writes Forward to New Book

Dr. Holly Wyatt of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has written the forward to a new book by JD Roth, producer of hit reality television programs including Extreme Weight Loss and The Biggest Loser.

Published by Readers Digest and now available, “The Big Fat Truth: Behind-the-Scenes Secrets to Losing Weight and Gaining the Inner Strength to Transform Your Life” explores mental and emotional awareness, and fortitude as the missing links in transformative weight loss. What makes someone top out at 500 pounds or more – or even carry an extra 20, 30 or 50 pounds – is on the inside, according to Roth. The book aims to get readers to address the real reasons they’re overweight through a combination of enthusiasm, empathy and a no-holds-barred style of what Roth calls “tough love.”

“It turns out JD has a true gift, a natural insight into what it really takes to help people lose weight and succeed in life,” says Wyatt, associate director of the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and medical director for Seasons 4 and 5 of ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss,” in her foreword. “This book is about the power of believing in yourself, the power of deciding you are not going to let the excuses you have used for so long stand in your way, the power to finally go and do it.”

“The Big Fat Truth” is presented in three sections that reflect Roth’s three-step solution to anything: 1) identify the problem; 2) make a list of things you need to do; and 3) now go do it! The book includes short, straight‑to‑the‑point chapters within each section that help readers identify their real issues and shake up their lives to do what they previously thought was impossible.

Roth says: “Looking good is great, but we have the opportunity to change our lives in a much more profound way—just like so many of the participants in our weight-loss shows have. As the producer and the behind-the-scenes guy in charge of inspiring, persuading and prodding contestants to stay committed to change, I have seen people overcome the most horrific obstacles to reshape their bodies and their lives.”

Included throughout the book are inspiring stories, advice and before‑and‑after photos from people Roth has helped to lose weight both on-camera and off. The book also includes tips to help readers stay accountable and a 30‑day plan to put this advice into action.

“The Big Fat Truth: Behind-the-Scenes Secrets to Losing Weight and Gaining the Inner Strength to Transform Your Life,” published by Reader’s Digest, is on sale April 12 at bookstores and

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Consortium takes lead on studying climate change effects on health

A group of University of Colorado scientists are taking a leadership role to investigate the effects of climate change on health, which has emerged as a dominant issue of this century and beyond.

They are launching education, research and community partnerships with a clear aim: safeguard human health.

Dr. Rick Johnson of CU Anschutz

Richard Johnson, MD, Medicine-Renal Medicine Diseases, SOM, is a founding member of UC4Health.

UC4Health (University of Colorado Consortium on Climate Change and Health) has already brought together more than 20 faculty members at CU Anschutz, CU Denver and CU-Boulder to study the broad effects of climate change, including waterborne, foodborne and vector-borne diseases.

Only a handful of academic institutions have responded to the issue, said Richard Johnson, MD, professor, Medicine-Renal Medicine Diseases, School of Medicine (SOM) and a founding member of UC4Health. He said CU’s deep and diverse spectrum of health experts and scientists – physicians, climatologists, anthropologists, immunologists, epidemiologists, pediatricians, geneticists, physiologists and more – sets the institution up to be a strong leader in the field.

‘Banding together’

“Climate change and health is a neglected field despite the fact that the climate is actively changing on us,” says Johnson, pointing to recent data that shows January and February were the planet’s warmest months on record. “Here at CU, we have a grassroots movement in that physicians and scientists are banding together to address the problem.”

The group applied for a School of Medicine Transformational Research Funding grant last fall, proposing a Clinical Center for Climate and Health. While the grant was not selected for final inclusion, it created the environment for faculty from disparate research areas to come together to tackle problems around climate change and health. By operating as a consortium, members say, the group can take a broader approach to its trifold mission of research, education and partnerships.

Rosemary Rochford of CU Anschutz

Rosemary Rochford, PhD, professor of Immunology-Microbiology, SOM, and Environmental/Occupational Health, Colorado School of Public Health, is the leader of UC4Health.

UC4Health leader Rosemary Rochford, PhD, professor of Immunology-Microbiology, SOM, and Environmental/Occupational Health, Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH), emphasizes that the group is not looking into the causes of climate change, but rather the health effects from it.

A key question, is ‘How do research and academic institutions develop the next generation of scientists to deal with this problem?’ “The educational piece is huge, and it has to be interdisciplinary by its nature,” Rochford says. “Instead of reacting to what’s already been studied, I think we should be leading the field.”

‘A fantastic step’

David Goff, MD, PhD, dean of the ColoradoSPH, says planetary health was a major topic of discussion at a recent Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health conference. “The concept is similar to what our folks are working on in the consortium,” he says. “It’s the idea of safeguarding both human health and the natural systems that underpin it.”

Membership in the consortium is open, and the group anticipates that as the UC4Health gains recognition, it will bring more faculty into this important research arena. For more information, contact Rosemary Rochford at

While the past century has seen tremendous improvements in human health, Goff says, other activities have put stress on the planet by degrading the soil, oceans and atmosphere. The question for this century and beyond, he says, is ‘How do we sustain our current status and improve human health while at the same time not degrading the planet?’

Goff is among the CU Anschutz leadership team that supports the consortium, saying UC4Health demonstrates yet another way CU innovates and collaborates with partner universities for the greater good – in this case, a more comprehensive approach to planetary health. “This is a fantastic step to focus on the importance of climate in human health and ecosystem health, in terms of the plants and animals we share the environment with,” he says.

A few examples of UC4Health progress so far:

  • Education: Rochford; Elizabeth Carlton, PhD, MPH, assistant professor, Environmental and Occupational Health, ColoradoSPH; and Jay Lemery, MD, associate professor, Emergency Medicine, SOM; received approval for a “Climate and Health” course to be offered this fall in the ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz. Lemery and Christopher Davis, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, SOM, will teach “Introduction to Polar Medicine” in Greenland – “Nobody’s done anything else like this,” Lemery says – over a week in August.
  • Research: Three main research themes are envisioned: metabolic diseases, disaster medicine, and infectious diseases. The consortium plans to host at least two international/national leaders in climate and health next academic year.
  • Community partnerships: In the Transformational Research application, the group received letters of support from a diverse array of leadership from government agencies as well as local community partners. The Aspen Global Change Institute invited UC4Health to conduct a conference this September.

Consortium research will focus on understanding the effects of climate change on human health and then develop tools, policies and the necessary workforce to monitor, adapt and mitigate those effects.

Sarah Horton of CU Denver

Sarah Horton, PhD, associate professor of Anthropology, is a CU Denver member of the consortium.

Consortium member Sarah Horton, PhD, associate professor of Anthropology at CU Denver, says environmental topics “will only increase in importance” this century, such as how climate change is transforming the landscape of diseases. She investigates the growing occupational risks faced by outdoor workers amid unpredictable and rising summer temperatures. For example, there have been 13 confirmed deaths among farmworkers between 2005 and 2014 in California alone due to working in the heat.

‘A matter of environmental justice’ 

Heat illness also interacts synergistically with chronic disease such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, Horton says. New investigations – including research conducted by Johnson and others in the consortium – suggests that chronic heat exposure may play a role in kidney failure, helping to explain the epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin affecting agricultural workers in Central America.

Such research can lead to workplace interventions and public policy, according to Horton. “The consortium can play an important role in helping mitigate the effects of heat stress faced by vulnerable populations,” she says. “This is a matter of not only pressing research but also environmental justice.”

Opportunities for collaboration

Rochford says there are ample opportunities in Colorado for investigator collaborations – not just among the campuses, but also with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Representatives at the Centers for Disease Control have also expressed support for the consortium.

“At the end of the day, we have to not only identify the diseases that are being affected by climate change, but also how to help people,” Rochford says. “This consortium illustrates a link between those diseases and the way people can be helped, and the ways their health can be improved.”

UC4Health will also investigate local environmental implications of climate change, such as how high-performing Colorado athletes are affected by climbing temperatures.

“Addressing this health problem requires a multidisciplinary team,” Johnson said. “What’s exciting is that the University of Colorado has expertise in these fields and is developing leaders and innovative programs to move the field forward.”

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Holocaust scholar to discuss medical legacy of the Nazis, political rhetoric

Celebrated bioethicist Arthur Caplan, author of a landmark book, `When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and The Holocaust,’ will visit Denver and Aurora next month to discuss the medical legacy of the Nazis and how today’s overheated political rhetoric often features comparisons to Hitler’s Germany.

Caplan will deliver two lectures on Monday, May 2, one on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora and the other at the Wolf Theater in Denver.

The visit is sponsored by the CU Anschutz Center for Bioethics and Humanities as part of its Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics (HGCB) program.

Dr. Matthew Wynia, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at CU Anschutz.

Caplan, a well-known commentator on health care ethics, writes a regular column for and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is the inspiration for a CBS TV pilot called `Austen’s Razor,’ about a “brilliant bioethicist who is called in at crisis moments to solve the most complicated, dynamic and confounding medical issues imaginable.”

His Denver lecture entitled, `The Use and Misuse of the Nazi Analogy in American Politics,’ will focus on the intended and unintended consequences of the increasingly common comparison of today’s politicians and political ideas to the Nazis. Is this ever appropriate? And when do such analogies simply shut down dialogue? Caplan is expected to address these and other questions during the lecture on Monday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Wolf Theater at 350 Dahlia St. in Denver.

He will also give a talk on Monday, May 2 at 12 noon at the CU Anschutz Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities at 13080 E 19th Avenue in Aurora.

The Anschutz Campus lecture will focus on the legacy of the Holocaust and its impact on medical research ethics. It will include a panel discussion on why this legacy is not part of the curriculum at most health professional schools.

“Health professionals have special responsibilities to remember and to remain vigilant, because of the roles our respective disciplines played in creating and carrying out the Holocaust,” said Matthew Wynia, MD, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at CU Anschutz.

This program builds on Wynia’s work with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum when he headed the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association in Chicago.

“While working with some incredibly knowledgeable museum staff, I learned how important the legacy of health professional involvement in the Holocaust is to modern medicine, and why remembrance must be a shared responsibility of all health professionals,” he said.

This year’s HGCB program also includes a gallery exhibit of `The Holocaust Series’ paintings by Geoffrey Laurence, entitled `ISWASWILLBE. The exhibit, co-sponsored by Denver’s Mizel Museum, opened April 3 and will run through August 4. The gallery is inside the CU Anschutz Fulginiti Pavilion at 13080 E 19th Avenue in Aurora.

The HGCB program began with a gift from Dr. William S. Silvers.

“The tragic fact of health professional involvement in the Holocaust has affected every aspect of modern bioethics,” he said. “Our program aims to build bridges and create collaborations to ensure these lessons are never forgotten.”

Both the CU Anschutz and Wolf Theater lectures are free and open to the public, though pre-registration is requested on the Center for Bioethics website at


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Carol Calkins receives CU Service Excellence Award

Editors note:  On behalf of CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman, Neil Krauss delivered these remarks at the All Staff Council Service Excellence Awards Ceremony held at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs on Friday, April 8, 2016.


Carol Calkins and Neil Krauss.

On behalf of CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman, it is my pleasure today to honor Carol Calkins, a recipient of this year’s Service Excellence Award for the University of Colorado.

When we think of service excellence, we think of a number of critical attributes:

  • Someone who resolves problems
  • Is responsive, and respectful
  • Demonstrates honesty and trustworthiness
  • Works efficiently and uses resources wisely
  • Produces high quality products, and
  • Delivers hoped for, much less, expected results.

Excellence is a consistent ability to demonstrate extraordinary competence to achieve the goals and objectives for the organization.

Carol exemplifies all of these attributes.

Carol is an extraordinary leader who has worked in Facilities Management at CU for more than 20 years.  For those of you who know her casually, you might think she has a tough exterior and can be a tough boss.  In fact, she’s one of the most thoughtful and caring people you’ll ever meet.

Carol has worn many hats in facilities and started off working in National Jewish for a number of years and then moving to the CU Health Sciences Center on 9th Avenue.  At Anschutz she was given the opportunity, or curse, to direct a number of areas in Facilities, including Operations, Custodial, and Parking, but because she was so successful in managing these areas, her boss, Dave Turnquist decided to pile on. Now her areas of responsibility include custodial, printing, parking & transportation, building, mail services, food services, training and certification and the bookstore.  There’s a logical connection among these, aren’t there? In fact, there is no natural fit for all of these areas into a single department and it would take a special person to manage such disparate responsibilities and personalities.  Carol does it, and does it very well.  It requires a diverse level of thought, management styles and sometimes a lot of attention.  Carol consistently show all those skills.

In fact, Carol’s skills go far beyond work. In her mature years, Carol also has found her fountain of youth. She might tell you she’s lost her mind.  I’m told she’s become fearless.  You see, Carol has gotten quite good at snowboarding.  I haven’t seen her do a McTwist in the halfpipe. Can you do that too?

Carol also is a published poet.  When something happens around her, she often feels an emotional and spiritual connection with the event, and she’ll write a poem about it. She’s had several poetry books published, and I’m told she might have written one to share with you today.

Carol also gives back to her community, supporting numerous charitable and women’s groups.  Recently, Carol went to Ethiopia with a few other women, bringing clothing and other supplies for women and children.

Carol has a PhD, and her thesis was on Title IX, an issue that has continued to grow.  Over the years, she’s been a valued resource for the department and the University in this area, too.

If you’d ask Carol, and look at the pictures in her office, she might say the loves of her life, though, are her grandchildren, her daughter Katrina and son-in-law Ray.  The panel next to her door is plastered with pictures of Alexa and Michala. The only pictures of Mike, Carol’s husband, Katrina or Ray are when they’re pictured with the grandkids.

Carol, your boss and your colleagues, agree on one thing…. You are a friend for life. Congratulations.




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Long-serving faculty honored

CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell hosted a celebration to recognize the contributions of faculty members who have served at the university for 25 years. Those recognized included 40 faculty members from schools throughout CU Anschutz, as well as many from CU Denver.

Chancellor Elliman and Laura Bernstein

Chancellor Elliman congratulates Laurie Bernstein on 25 years of service.

Elliman noted that in their time on campus, the long-serving faculty members have experienced numerous name changes, a campus consolidation and relocation of the entire campus among other events that have shaped and enhanced CU Anschutz. Elliman lauded how faculty members have maintained their commitment to serving students, patients and the community while enduring major changes.

“You are experts in a vast array of fields—individuals who have had incalculable impacts on your areas of study, improved the lives of countless individuals, and helped to shape the minds of our future generations of national and international leaders in a host of arenas,” Elliman said.

Elliman presented faculty members celebrating 25 years of service with a commencement medal bearing the University of Colorado seal—a token of gratitude for “exemplary service.” A list of those recognized is below.

Laurie Bernstein, School of Medicine

Michael Blei, School of Medicine

Mark Boguniewicz, School of Medicine

John Brantley II, School of Medicine

Michelle Brichacek, School of Dental Medicine

Michael Bristow, School of Medicine

Mark Brown, School of Medicine

Maya Bunik, School of Medicine

Robin Deterding, School of Medicine

Lajos Gera, School of Medicine

Frederick Grover, School of Medicine

Valerie Hale, School of Medicine

Kathryn Hassell, School of Medicine

Edward Havranek, School of Medicine

Lynn Heasley, School of Dental Medicine

John Hobbins, School of Medicine

Paula Hoffman, School of Medicine

Richard Hughes, School of Medicine

Evelyn Hutt, School of Medicine

J. David Ingram, School of Medicine

Dwight Klemm, School of Medicine

Mary Kohn, School of Medicine

Ernestine Kotthoff-Burrell, College of Nursing

Van Manh, School of Medicine

John McDowell, School of Dental Medicine

Christina Mitchell, Colorado School of Public Health

Raphael Nemenoff, School of Medicine

Rebecca O’Brien, School of Medicine

John Peterson, School of Medicine

Jonathan Port, School of Medicine

Randall Reves, School of Medicine

Jennifer Rodriguez, School of Medicine

Daniel Satterwhite, School of Medicine

James Schroeder, School of Medicine

Robert Sclafani, School of Medicine

Christopher Silliman, School of Medicine

Kenneth Tyler, School of Medicine

Ralph Wechsler, School of Medicine

Kim Weigers, School of Medicine

Susan Young, School of Medicine

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CCTSI launches careers of young researchers through TL1 program

The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) TL1 program is making CU Anschutz a top-choice for students like Michelle Nelsen, who is pursuing her PhD in immunology. Nelsen heard about the program during a recruitment weekend event and was interested in additional opportunities to observe clinical medicine. The TL1 program opened doors for Nelsen to collaborate with physicians and researchers in her field.

Michelle Nelsen

Michelle Nelsen received valuable support for her research through the TL1 program.

“The TL1 program gave me the support of a program and made me comfortable talking to and asking to shadow physicians because I had the program to stand on,” Nelsen said. “This was important to me since I thought that clinical exposure would make me a better biomedical scientist.”

What is the TL1 program?

A program within CCTSI, the TL1 program launches careers in research by providing support for PhD students pursuing a Certificate in Clinical Translational Science. Students in the program are able to take advantage of research funding, as well as mentoring by faculty experienced in basic and clinical science.

The CCTSI is now accepting applications for the TL1 program. Deadline is May 2.

“For students in a PhD granting basic science program, partnering with an MD or other clinician gives a much better understanding of what impact your work can have on people suffering from life-threatening illnesses or other chronic issues,” said Emily Warren, programs manager for education,  training and career development within the CCTSI.

Additionally, students in the TL1 program are able to apply for one year of funding at the NIH level to support their research, alongside financial support for tuition and fees, research supplies and travel to the national meeting of the Association for Clinical and Translational Science.

“This program provides not only a stipend, but also an opportunity to interact with other students from other programs,” Warren said. “This is important as translational science enables students in the program to become someone who can bridge the gap between the lab and clinical practice. Team science collaborations between disciplines are becoming more and more prominent.”

Supporting research

Receiving a grant from the TL1 program has been helpful in Nelsen’s research in transplantation immunology. Nelsen is currently examining alternatives to immune suppression drugs that might exhibit fewer side effects and toxicity levels in transplantation patients. By using her clinical observations of patients to guide her laboratory experiments, Nelsen has helped identify key clinically-relevant situations when the new anti-rejection agents might fail in transplant recipients.

The grant has allowed her to free up resources that would normally cover her stipend and also purchase additional equipment that has enhanced the quality of her study. In addition, by using funds provided through the program to attend the national CTSA TL1 meeting, Nelsen has already begun building a professional network of peers.

“The program is an opportunity for us as basic scientists to learn about translational science, clinical medicine, and research opportunities,” Nelsen said. “It also gives us a better understanding of why we are answering basic science questions and how our work applies to patients.”

The experience in the program has been so profound that Nelsen now plans to attend medical school after graduating with her PhD so she will be able to work across disciplines in clinical and research environments.

“Because of my TL1 experience and being able to observe physicians and surgeons, I have decided to pursue a career as a physician scientist,” Nelsen said. “I want to be able to care for patients and also work to address current shortcomings in treatment.”

Translational science is team science

Allison Shapiro, who received her PhD in epidemiology from the Colorado School of Public Health in December 2015, participated in the TL1 program and received support necessary to design and implement the Baby Biology of Intrauterine Metabolic Programming (BabyBUMP) project, a study using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a model for human adipogenesis (forming fat cells) in response to nutritional influences.

Allison Shapiro

TL1 program participant Allison Shapiro describes translational science as “the core of her research.”

This ambitious study, which utilized patients from a cohort of 1,400 women from the Healthy Start Study at UC Denver, saw Shapiro and CCTSI research nurses collecting umbilical cord samples from more than 160 patients at delivery. She would then isolate, culture and examine the stem cells.

Reflecting on the project, Shapiro credits a team of faculty and clinical mentors across disciplines who collaborated to share knowledge, resources and experience necessary to complete her dissertation. She recognizes her project as a “true collaboration between scientific fields.”

“Translational science is the core of my research, and it’s constantly what I look to when I start thinking about new study ideas,” Shapiro said. “We don’t live in a world anymore where researchers can work alone, in silos. We live in a team science world, and translational science is the road to team science.”

Since graduating, Shapiro has leveraged the knowledge she has gained in designing studies, disseminating large data sets and gaining perspectives from other fields during her post-doctoral work. For the next two years Shapiro will be working alongside physicians and researchers at Children’s Hospital Colorado examining fetal and infant brain development.

It is Shapiro’s next step in a career that will focus on research.

“I live and breathe academia,” Shapiro said. “I feel fortunate to have this drive to want to write grants and design studies. This is my realm—my comfort zone.”

The post CCTSI launches careers of young researchers through TL1 program appeared first on CU Anschutz Today.

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The Moderators to Headline CU Cancer Center Fundraiser

On May 6, Ed Haselden and his band, The Moderators, will be performing at the Rock-Out to Knock-Out Cancer Ball. This annual event raises money for a different organization every year. This year The Moderators and special guests Tracksuit Wedding will be raising money for cancer research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

As Colorado’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, the CU Cancer Center serves thousands of patients in the Rocky Mountain region. These patients have access to the latest treatments, state-of-the-art facilities and world-recognized physician-scientists working to cure cancer.

Reserve your spot today to enjoy The Moderators and Tracksuit Wedding as they rock the night away for a good cause.