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Inspirational story highlights Friends of the Haven gala

Trio at Friends of the Haven gala

A hugely successful annual gala put the focus on the Friends of the Haven, with proceeds going to support unfunded programs and services at the Haven and Baby Haven. The programs are located within the Addiction Research & Treatment Services (ARTS) organization in the Department of Psychiatry, CU School of Medicine.

A crowd of 229 guests, including more than 100 new supporters, attended the springtime event at CU South Denver in Lone Tree. The gala raised $177,000 – the most in the event’s history.

The Haven and Baby Haven

Friends of the Haven is a nonprofit 501 [c]3 organization formed in 2006 by a group of concerned and committed community leaders with a mission to generate new resources and to advocate on behalf of The Haven and Baby Haven. The Haven provides long-term intensive residential substance use disorder and mental health treatment services for women, including pregnant and post-partum women.

At the Haven Mom’s House, infants reside in the program with their mothers and receive comprehensive assessment and a continuum of developmentally appropriate early education services at the Baby Haven.

Inspirational story

Tom Crowley and Tom Brewster
Tom Crowley, emeritus professor of psychiatry, left, presented the 2019 Changing Lives Award to Tom Brewster for a career dedicated to supporting the recovery community.

The gala, sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry, featured a former Haven graduate who provided a powerful story about how substance use personally affected her and her family and how long-term treatment at the Haven completely turned her life around and led to personal and professional success. She shared the stage with her 19-year-old daughter who remarkably was once a baby at the Baby Haven and now attends college in Colorado.

Following this inspirational story, the gala’s keynote speaker, state Rep. Leslie Herod described her passion and work in support of criminal justice and mental health at the legislative level and also shared her own family experience with substance use disorders.

For the first time in the gala’s history, Tom Crowley, MD, emeritus professor of psychiatry (retired) and former chair of the Division of Substance Dependence in the Department of Psychiatry presented the 2019 Changing Lives Award to Tom Brewster for a career dedicated to supporting the recovery community. As the retired founder and former executive director of ARTS, Brewster was recognized for visionary leadership and for saving many lives over the course of his 40-plus-year career.

Friends of the Haven plans to host the spring 2020 gala in the same venue.

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Paying it Forward to CU Physical Therapy

Giving in gratitude because of careers and care

Dean Hasse, Colleen Kigin (PT ’70) and Pat Grant

Scholarships are a vital part of the Physical Therapy Program at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. They help attract the best and brightest students, and give them the resources they need to make the most of their education.

In 2018, the CU PT Program awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships for the first time in the program’s history, creating countless opportunities for students. These investments in the next generation of physical therapists would not be possible without the generous support of alumni and community partners like Colleen Kigin (PT ’70), Dean Hasse and Pat Grant.

An alumna and longtime supporter of the CU PT Program, Kigin gives in gratitude for her education and a career that has enabled her to make important contributions to physical therapy practice, education and research.

While a student in the program, Kigin worked with the patient who received the world’s first liver transplant at the Colorado General Hospital, and later met the physicians who treated that patient. The experience, she said, is a powerful reminder of the importance of interdisciplinary care.

“A central part of my learning was understanding how to best address the overall needs of the patient, and to do so through innovation and talent of many professionals working as a team,” said Kigin.

Today, Kigin is helping to build the future of the profession, not only through her philanthropy, but also through her roles at CU as chair of the Physical Therapy Scholarship and Endowment Advisory Board and clinical professor of physical therapy.

Dean Hasse is a Denver-area physical therapist who also serves on the Physical Therapy Scholarship and Endowment Advisory Board. His giving to scholarships is motivated by gratitude for his career. “My profession has provided me with so many opportunities that I feel compelled to assist others on their journey in becoming physical therapists,” he said.

Hasse holds a strong affinity for the CU PT Program, considering it his adopted academic home.  “My alma matter is quite far away, and CU is right in my back yard,” he said. “CU is doing amazing things in the world of physical therapy, so it just makes sense for me to ‘adopt’ the program as my own.”

Pat Grant served as the first chair of the Physical Therapy Scholarship and Endowment Advisory Board, helping to establish a framework for long-term financial support for students. Today, the CU PT Program’s endowment is on track to surpassing $5 million, because of the support of benefactors making outright planned gifts, and long-term pledges.

Grant gives back in gratitude for the care he received from Denise Stelzner, PT, MBA, which allowed him to get back to his normal outdoor activities like horseback riding. He invests in scholarships for students interested in practicing in rural and agricultural Colorado communities. “My hope is for students to better understand and become aware of the rural challenges to health care,” he said.

Addison Huck

Addison Huck, a current physical therapy student at CU, has benefitted from the support of benefactors like Grant. Huck said, “Scholarships mean that I have the freedom to follow my passion to help rural and underserved communities, rather than worrying about financial debt or salary.”

Huck learned that he had a passion for healing through movement during his experiences as a personal trainer, and he came to realize that he wanted to understand human anatomy at a deeper level. “I was determined that the CU PT Program would get me where I needed to be – a movement specialist with the knowledge to help people become active participants in their lives,” he said. “I hope to increase access to physical therapy and fitness for those who are hard to reach and most in need.”


Helen Ortiz

Helen Ortiz is also benefiting from a physical therapy scholarship. She said she chose the CU PT Program because of its strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. In order to support more students like Ortiz, the CU PT Program has increased the number of scholarships over the past five years that are dedicated to attracting students from diverse backgrounds. “My scholarship means that I deserve to be on this campus, and that I’m welcomed here,” said Ortiz. “When studying gets tough, I can reflect on the people that believe in me.”

Huck and Ortiz were among the scholarship recipients celebrated at the annual CU Physical Therapy Scholarship Reception on June 27, along with Colleen Kigin, Dean Hasse, Pat Grant and other key benefactors.

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Lighting the Way Forward

Experts have noted that the radiance of one extraordinary star can sometimes be brilliant enough to cause the other stars around it to shine even more brightly. A pioneer and a luminary in the field of neonatology, such has been the powerful and empowering impact of Lula Olga Lubchenco, MD. No stranger to “firsts,” Dr. Lu, as she was known, is the inspiration behind the Lula O. Lubchenco Endowed Chair in Neonatology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the first chair created in honor of a female faculty member in campus history.

Born in Turkistan, Russia, in 1915 to an American physician mother and a Russian agronomist father, Lula was the second of five children. She was born prematurely – prescient, given the focus of her life’s work, the stellar trajectory of her career, and her profound and guiding influence on the field of neonatology.

The Lubchenco family fled war-torn Russia in 1917. They escaped across Siberia to China, landed in San Francisco, lived for a time in South Carolina, and eventually moved to northeast Colorado in 1930. Following high school, Lula attended the University of Denver and graduated from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1939. She did an internship at Colorado General Hospital followed by a pediatric internship at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. She returned to Children’s Hospital Colorado to complete her pediatric residency, a research fellowship, and a year in private practice. She became an associate professor in the CU Department of Pediatrics in 1943 and a professor in 1969. When Colorado General Hospital established its Premature Infant Center in 1947, Lula became its first medical director.

Dr. Lu was a devoted wife to fellow physician Dr. Carl Josephson and the mother of four daughters, two of whom became doctors. Their third child graduated from the CU Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Program and became a lawyer. Their youngest daughter was born with Down syndrome, and an important aspect of Dr. Lu’s story became her unflinching advocacy for people with Down syndrome at a time when resources were scarce.

Lula conducted groundbreaking research on and initiated transformative advances and approaches to infant care throughout her career. Her work tracking the relationship between birth weight and gestational age differentiated “prematurity” and “low birth weight for gestational age” resulted in the publication of a chart that came to be called “the Lulagram”, still in use today, that is instrumental in informing optimal newborn care. She was among the first to suspect a link between oxygen administration and the eye condition now known as retinopathy of prematurity, and was able to dramatically reduce the incidence of blindness in preterm infants in her own neonatal intensive clinic, although it took years for physicians at other institutions to acknowledge the connection. She helped spearhead collaborative training in neonatal resuscitation for obstetric and pediatric residents, a novel concept at the time. She recognized the benefits of an integrated approach to prenatal care and advocated for including social workers, nutritionists and visiting nurses in the care of pregnant mothers. She pushed for the transport of high-risk pregnancy patients to regional health care centers, understanding that the mothers themselves were the best incubators for their tiny babies for as long as possible. She was a tenacious advocate for on-demand feeding, breast feeding and keeping the baby in the mother’s hospital room, as opposed to a nursery. Although the nursing staff often preferred the controlled environment of the nursery, when Dr. Lu thought an action was in the best interest of the baby and the mother, there was no compromise.

Dr. Lubchenco’s work was motivated by the challenges she met as a clinician. She possessed a keen intellectual curiosity that invariably led to enhanced knowledge and understanding, and often created a turning point in the practice of medicine and the care of newborn babies. As Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and former CU School of Medicine Dean Richard Krugman, MD, fondly recalled, “when something was going on with a baby that we didn’t understand, Dr. Lu would often say with a twinkle in her eye, ‘let’s just see if we can figure this out,’ and it was very rare that we didn’t.” She was a prolific researcher and writer, the author of 52 published articles, 34 abstracts, 19 book chapters and an acclaimed book, “The High-Risk Infant.” In a recent analysis in the journal Pediatrics identifying the 100 most cited pediatric articles between 1945 and 2010, Lula was an author or co-author of three of them.

Looking back, Dr. Lu’s colleagues marvel at her ability to successfully innovate and excel in the field of medicine, while simultaneously balancing the needs of her family, all with humility and grace. “In the days when there were still relatively few women in medicine, Dr. Lu was the finest role model for how to get so much done in the time available. She combined innovative ideas with common sense to solve all sorts of problems – clinical, research and the everyday logistics of a nursery, not to mention organizing her home and family as well,” says pediatrician Sharon Langendoerfer, MD. CU Department of Pediatrics Professor M. Douglas Jones, MD, recalls, “long before the popularization of the catchphrase ‘Just Do It,’ Dr. Lu, without fanfare or drama, was simultaneously managing a large family with a special needs child and asking, and answering, profoundly important questions in pediatric medicine.”

Scientist, teacher, physician, visionary, wife, mother and advocate, Dr. Lubchenco was an exceptional role model for other medical professionals, especially women. Her remarkable legacy resonates to this day and will continue to light the way forward for generations to come. In Dr. Krugman’s words, “for more than a half century she helped thousands of trainees overcome their fear of even touching these premature babies and in her remarkable, quiet competence helped our oversized, awkward hands learn how to examine, treat and comfort these neonates. This characterized how she taught and how she lived.”

For Neonatology Section Head Randall Wilkening, MD, an endowed chair is a fitting honor for Dr. Lubchenco and will serve as “a happy reminder of Dr. Lu’s humility, her insight and her many lessons to all she encountered.”

There could not be a brighter light by which to advance the future of pediatric and neonatal medicine in Colorado and beyond.

Learn more about the Lula O. Lubchenco, MD, Endowed Chair in Neonatology:

Travis Leiker
Philanthropic Advisor

Make a gift online.

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CU Anschutz researchers win grant to commercialize miniature microscope

A team of researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has received a grant to commercialize a miniature microscope that fits on the head of a mouse and can peer deeply inside the living brain.

The microscope, known as the 2P-FCM, uses an electrowetting lens mounted on the head of a freely moving mouse where a high-powered, fiber optic light can actually view and control neural activity as it happens. The lens is liquid and can change shape when electricity is applied.

Emily Gibson and Diego Restrepo examined the miniature microscope they developed with two professors from CU Boulder. The team won a $2 million NIH Brain Initiative grant to refine and expand the use of the instrument.
Emily Gibson and Diego Restrepo working on the miniature microscope that allows them to see inside a living brain.

“We can image deep into the brain which makes it very attractive to a lot of neuroscience researchers,” said Emily Gibson, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering at CU Anschutz who helped create the microscope.  The initial demonstration of the 2P-FCM was published in Scientific Reports (Ozbay et al., 2018).

Gibson and her colleague Diego Restrepo, PhD, professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, along with Karl Kilborn, co-president of 3i (Intelligent Imaging Innovations, Inc.) in Denver, won the $394,260 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant.

The microscope was first deployed to the University of Paris. Based on that success, it will next be used at New York University and Duke University.

The company 3i, founded by Karl Kilborn, along with Colin Monks, a former PhD student of CU Anschutz, and Abraham Kupfer, a former investigator at National Jewish, will produce the microscope. The company’s manufacturing efforts will be guided by Baris Ozbay, PhD, who helped create the prototype while working in Gibson’s lab and now works at 3i.

In 2016, Restrepo and Gibson along with Juliet Gopinath, PhD, associate professor in electrical, computer and energy engineering at CU Boulder and Victor Bright, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering at CU Boulder won a $2 million grant, spread over three years, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). It was part of the NIH’s new BRAIN initiative aimed at revolutionizing the understanding of the human brain.

The money was partly used to optimize the microscope and deploy it in different neuroscience labs.

The device represents a breakthrough in the way scientists can observe brain activity. The microscope is attached to a thin fiber optic cable and mounted on a mouse’s head, allowing it to wander freely. Scientists can then observe complex neural processes within the brain.

“This can also be used to monitor brain responses to social and behavioral interactions,” Restrepo said. “To do that, you need an animal that is moving around and interacting with its environment.”

Kilborn, 3i co-president, said the goal of the BRAIN initiative was to ensure that new technologies developed academically made their way into as many laboratories as possible.

“This SBIR will help 3i disseminate the pioneering work done at CU Anschutz in the laboratories of Emily Gibson and Diego Restrepo, along with collaborators at CU Boulder in the laboratories of Victor Bright and Juliet Gopinath, which has also been funded, in part, by the BRAIN Initiative,” he said.  We are excited by the experimental potential of this new technology and believe the grant represents a positive example of how academia and industry can work together to advance research in neuroscience.”

The microscope will allow scientists to investigate a wide range of subjects.

Some of those involved with the project are studying the neural basis of vocal learning in songbirds, decision-making in non-human primates and the neural basis of social bonding among prairie voles.

“This microscope has been getting a lot of attention,” Gibson said. “The idea is to turn it into an easy-to-use commercial product and make it available to labs around the world. For me, that is what is most rewarding about this work.”

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The reason some people hate fireworks

Ever since I was a child, I’ve hated the Fourth of July.

Don’t get me wrong, I love barbecues, red, white and blue and baseball games, but fireworks are not for me. I remember hiding under blankets in the car when my parents took me to a fireworks show, because the loud noises really hurt my ears.

Cory Portnuff, AuD, PhD
Cory Portnuff, AuD, PhD

I spoke with Cory Portnuff, AuD, PhD, an audiologist at UCHealth and an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Otolaryngology in the CU School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, about this not-so-common issue and what to do to stay safe during Fourth of July festivities

1.  I find fireworks to be extremely loud. About how many people experience this sensitivity?

Sensitivity to loud sounds, like fireworks, is part of a set of hearing disorders called “Decreased Sound Tolerance” disorders. About 9 percent of adults find some types of loud sounds uncomfortable to their ears, and it is normal for young children to find fireworks bothersome. Young children will reflexively cover their ears for loud sounds, and sometimes find fireworks to be scary. For anyone, it’s normal to find extremely loud sounds, like nearby explosions, uncomfortable.

Some people also have emotional associations with the sounds of explosions or gunshots. Individuals with a history of trauma from firearms or fireworks may find fireworks shows upsetting or stressful.

2.  Is it safe to bring children/babies to a fireworks show?

This is a great question! In general, we advise the use of hearing protection during fireworks shows. This is especially important if the show is close to you. There are a couple of brands of earmuffs that fit children well, and we recommend that children wear hearing protection any time they are near fireworks, gunshots or other high-level sounds. Make sure you’re choosing hearing protection made for children, like EMs for Kids or BabyBanz brands.

3.  Can you sustain lasting hearing damage from fireworks shows?

Yes, there is a high risk of hearing damage with nearby fireworks. Nearby explosions can do instantaneous damage to the hearing mechanism, including damaging both the eardrum and inner-ear structures. If you are setting off exploding fireworks yourself, you should be wearing hearing protection. For large fireworks shows that are at a distance, the risk is lower, but it’s still worth considering protecting your ears.

4.  Any tips for someone with the sensitivity around the Fourth of July?

If you have sensitivity to loud sounds, you might consider wearing well-fit hearing protection (earplugs or earmuffs) when you’re around fireworks shows. That said, it’s not a good idea to wear earplugs all the time – this can actually make sound sensitivity worse! Instead, wearing them only when you know sound will be at high levels is the best choice. And, of course, if your decreased sound tolerance interferes with your daily life, you should see an audiologist who specializes in decreased sound tolerance.

The UCHealth Hearing and Balance Clinic can help you with management strategies and desensitization therapies designed to reduce the impact of decreased sound tolerance on your life.

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