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College of Nursing wins Volunteer of the Year award

Nursing award announcement

Faculty, staff and students in the University of Colorado College of Nursing dedicated 770 volunteer hours to humanitarian work at Aurora’s only 24/7 homeless shelter last year, including data-collection efforts and employment support and résumé advice for people experiencing homelessness.

For those efforts, the College of Nursing (CU Nursing) received the 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award from Mile High Behavioral Healthcare (MHBHC). MHBHC operates both the Aurora Day Resource Center and the Comitis Crisis Center in Aurora.

Award ceremony
James Gillespie, community impact and government relations liaison for Mile High Behavioral Healthcare, presents the agency’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year award to the College of Nursing in a surprise ceremony April 30 at CU Anschutz.

In a surprise ceremony on April 30 in the Fitzsimons Building, the award was presented to CU Nursing Dean Elias Provencio-Vasquez, Associate Professor Scott Harpin; Shane Hoon, assistant dean of Student Affairs and Diversity; Dana Brandorff, CU Nursing director of marketing and communications; CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman; and Provost Rod Nairn.

“We have incredible collaborations with this campus,” said James Gillespie, community impact and government relations liaison for MHBHC. “The students come over to the Aurora Day Resource Center and volunteer with us and get refreshed and refocused on why they want to do the work in their field, and then get back into the books. It’s a wonderful relationship.”

Cohorts offer much-needed help

One cohort from the college helped the nonprofit agency complete VI-SPDATs (Vulnerable Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool), an important first step in the rehousing process. The VI-SPDATs elicit a score that is used to place people experiencing homelessness on housing lists across the Denver metro area.

“Naturally, more vulnerable populations need to get housed faster, and that tool is a fair and balanced way to assess  their needs,” Gillespie said.

Another cohort provided needed support in completing Homeless Management Information System in-take packets for guests at Comitis Crisis Center. CU Nursing volunteers helped create a curriculum that MHBHC used to inform guests about frostbite and cold weather care.

Harpin said the Nursing students enjoy doing all they can to support MHBHC and the Aurora Day Resource Center, which is adjacent to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “The students universally value and enjoy their experience there, and they’re really moved by seeing social determinants of health in action while completing their nursing education here at CU,” he said.

Valued community partner

Provencio-Vasquez applauded the dedicated community outreach performed by  CU Nursing’s faculty, staff and students and thanked the MHBHC for offering the college the opportunity to help with its important mission to be a valued community partner.

Also joining the award presentation were Stephanie Kok, deputy director of homeless services, and Laura McGarry, director of programs and operations. McGarry said the college’s “extra human power” enabled the organization to implement programming that resulted in faster connections to housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Gillespie said close runners-up for the award included volunteer groups from the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the CU School of Dental Medicine and the Emergency Medicine Department in the CU School of Medicine.

“I consider this campus a neighborhood, and we hope to continue to work together as good neighbors to build on that partnership,” he said.

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First-year MD/PhD student wins $250,000 award

Jacqueline Turner

The CU Anschutz Medical Campus conducts cutting-edge research that is advancing personalized medicine and making other important discoveries. Typically, the work is done by scientists whose credentials include a PhD and often other advanced degrees.

And then there is Jaqueline Turner.

Turner is already doing bench-to-bedside research, which is extending the lives of stage IV melanoma patients, as a first-year MD/PhD student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the CU School of Medicine.

Jacqueline Turner and mentors
Jacqueline Turner with some of her mentors at CU Anschutz: from left, Isabel Schlaepfer, PhD; William Robinson, MD, PhD; and Kasey Couts, PhD.

Turner was selected as one of only 11 recipients of the prestigious Hertz Foundation Fellowship from a pool of more than 840 applicants. She is the first-ever CU Anschutz awardee; three students from CU Boulder have won Hertz Fellowships, with the last recipient being 15 years ago.

Highly prized award

“I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen,” said Turner, who received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and integrative physiology at CU Boulder in 2017. “Historically, they fund a lot of engineers and students in the physical sciences. I’m not an engineer. As I learned more about the fellowship, they are interested in people in a variety of disciplines – people who are very creative, curious and innovative.”

As part of the extremely prized award, Turner will receive about $250,000 in support toward her graduate-school ambitions, which include a PhD, with a particular interest in molecular oncology. Her program, the National Institutes of Health-funded MSTP, supports medical students seeking dual MD and PhD degrees.

Key mentors

Turner’s interest in research began in the cardiac laboratory of Russell Moore, PhD, in the Integrative Physiology Department at CU Boulder. As an undergraduate, she joined the Robinson Melanoma Research Laboratory at CU Anschutz, working alongside William Robinson, MD, PhD, a world-renowned melanoma expert, and Kasey Couts, PhD.

Jacqueline Turner outdoors
When she’s not in class or in the lab, Jacqueline Turner enjoys exploring the Colorado outdoors.

“They are pivotal mentors in my life, helping to teach me and spark my interest in science,” Turner said. “Most importantly, I saw how my work can be translated to benefit patients.”

Recently, the team of researchers published the first report of any kind of gene fusion responding to immunotherapy in any kind of cancer. “Our studies demonstrate kinase gene fusions have unique signaling mechanisms that can be targeted for treatment,” Turner said. “We show how understanding the physical properties of structural variation in the genome is important to identify and treat gene fusions.”

In essence, Turner and the team at the International Melanoma Biorepository and Research Laboratory at CU Anschutz has been working on gene rearrangement that translates into longer lives for cancer patients. “Having a stage IV melanoma patient survive for at least two more years based on our findings was really incredible,” she said. “That’s the kind of research I want to focus on.”

Clinically translational research

Along with Isabel Schlaepfer, PhD, assistant professor, Division of Medical Oncology, and Raul Torres, PhD, professor of immunology and microbiology, Turner is now working to integrate genetics, immunology and metabolism to construct a better understanding of cancer.

As part of the fellowship, Turner will attend workshops, retreats and seminars where she will meet and work with an even wider network of scientists. “You get a scientific community and network to tap into,” she said. “They also give you financial freedom to seek out the mentors you want to work with, which is really cool.”

These experiences continue to fuel Turner’s interest in clinically translational research. She is especially interested in developing cutting-edge therapies for patients with limited treatment options or a poor prognosis.

“Throughout my career, I hope to work with patients, identify novel therapeutic targets and develop new treatments for solid tumor malignancies,” Turner said.

Photos in lab by Matt Kaskavitch, Office of Communications.

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CU School of Medicine among best medical schools in country

Aerial photo of CU Anschutz Medical Campus

The University of Colorado School of Medicine is listed No. 12 on the primary care rankings of medical schools and No. 30 on the research rankings released today by U.S. News and World Report.

Each year, U.S. News compiles listings of medical schools in these two general categories based on surveys and data reviews of accredited medical schools in the United States. The magazine then assigns rankings to schools using its own criteria to assess the information, which includes peer assessments provided by professionals at other medical schools.

This year, the magazine considered 152 medical schools and 33 schools of osteopathic medicine. Of those 185 institutions, 120 responded and provided the data that U.S. News needed to calculate its rankings.

On last year’s U.S. News listing, the CU School of Medicine was No. 9 for primary care and No. 32 for research.

“The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is among the best academic medical centers in the country because of the excellent work of our faculty, staff, students, and partners,” said CU School of Medicine Dean John J. Reilly, Jr., MD. “We are continually striving to fulfill the needs of our students, patients, and community by investing in programs, facilities, and people that make our School even stronger.”

The magazine also provides rankings of specific specialties based on ratings provided by medical school deans and senior faculty from surveyed schools. University of Colorado School of Medicine programs that were ranked in the top 10 among were:

  • Family Medicine No. 7
  • Pediatrics No. 6

The School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program ranked No. 7 on the magazine’s separate listing of Best Graduate Schools Health Specialties Programs.

Colorado SPH moves up eight places

The Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) is ranked No. 23 in the nation, along with nine others, out of 177 Master of public health programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), according to the U.S. News rankings.

ColoradoSPH moved up eight places from No. 31 out of 50 schools that were last ranked based on the results of peer assessment surveys sent to deans, other administrators and faculty of accredited public health degree programs or schools. The last time U.S. News ranked schools and programs of public health was in 2014; the public health rankings occur every five years.

The school, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2018, is now ranked in the top 25 of all schools in the country offering the Master in Public Health (MPH), and accomplished this within its first decade.

“I am delighted by this new ranking,” said ColoradoSPH Dean Jonathan Samet, MD, MS. “We will continue to move up as we develop new programs and advance our research.”

Guest contributors: Mark Couch, CU School of Medicine; and Tonya Ewers, Colorado School of Public Health

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Amy Bohrer receives Navy Medicine Reserve Duty Sailor of Year award

Amy Bohrer, Department of Surgery

Amy Bohrer, office supervisor in the Department of Surgery, CU School of Medicine, recently received the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s Reserve Duty Sailor of the Year award. Bohrer will go on to represent Navy Medicine in the Commander, Navy Reserve Force Sailor of the Year competition.

Navy Medicine consists of more than 30,000 active duty and reserve hospital corpsmen that deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, in both wartime and peacetime. The rating is the largest, most professionally diverse and highly decorated enlisted corps in the Navy.

Navy Medicine is a worldwide health care network of 63,00 personnel that provide health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans across the globe.

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Chancellor Don Elliman honored with American Cancer Society Champion of Hope Award

“I love my job. I get to go to work every day surrounded by people who are trying to make the world a better place: to give people life, to give people hope.”

With those words, CU Anschutz Medical Campus Chancellor Don Elliman accepted the American Cancer Society’s Champions of Hope Award on Saturday night, Nov. 10. Elliman was chosen for his distinguished service and leadership, and honored with this TRIBUTE VIDEO.

Dr. Schulick with Chancellor Elliman
Chancellor Elliman is congratulated by Richard Schulick, MD, director of the CU Cancer Center, at the ASC Champion of Hope gala.

The Champions of Hope Award recognizes outstanding partners of the American Cancer Society – of which CU Anschutz certainly is one. Since 1955, the Society has funded nearly 200 cancer-related research grants at CU, $31 million worth. Currently, it’s funding 17 multi-year research grants totaling $8.8 million in Colorado, many of which are at CU Anschutz. Elliman thanked the Society for its ongoing support of cancer research.

Speaking of his “belief that we will see more advances in health care in the coming decade than we’ve seen in the last 50 years, maybe longer,” Elliman noted that many of these breakthroughs are likely to be in the area of cancer care and cure. Citing immunology and immunotherapy efforts underway at CU Anschutz, he said “with CAR-T cell and other novel therapeutics, people who have failed all standard therapies and are out of options, have hope, and a good chance to cure. And that’s just one example.”

More than 300 people attended the Champion of Hope gala, held at the EXDO Event Center in Denver’s RiNo Art District. The event highlighted the Society’s accomplishments of the past 100 years as the largest nonprofit funder of cancer research in the United States, and raised more than $209,000 for cancer research in Colorado.

Elliman was quick to note that as much as he appreciated the honor, it was not his alone. CU Anschutz collaborates with cancer organizations, health care facilities, nonprofit organizations, government institutions and corporate sponsors to help achieve the common goal of eliminating cancer.

“I get the plaque,” he said, “but you are the real champions of hope.”

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Nanette Santoro elected to National Academy of Medicine

Nanette Santoro, MD, professor and E. Stewart Taylor Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has been elected into the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

The election recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. The National Academy elected 75 regular members and 10 international members during its annual meeting earlier this week.

Nanette Santoro, MD
Nanette Santoro, MD

“This distinguished and diverse class of new members is a truly remarkable set of scholars and leaders whose impressive work has advanced science, improved health, and made the world a better place for everyone,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau, MD. “Their expertise in science, medicine, health, and policy in the U.S. and around the globe will help our organization address today’s most pressing health challenges and inform the future of health and health care. It is my privilege to welcome these esteemed individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”

In its announcement, the National Academy said Santoro is being honored for “research discoveries in health predictors of midlife women, participation in cutting-edge clinical trial design and execution.”

Santoro’s research projects have included the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS), which has tested the effect of estrogen, when given within three years of menopause, on carotid artery thickness and coronary calcium scores, as well as cognition. She is also a co-Investigator on the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, a seven-center study of 3,000 women of five different ethnicities who have traversed the menopause. SWAN is examining a variety of outcomes and risk factors for health and disease in this representative cohort of US women.

She has also been involved in clinical trials that have examined the role of hormone therapy and alternative treatments in menopausal women’s health. Her research has also considered how obesity in women interferes with fertility and reproductive hormone production.

She serves as Chair the Steering Committee of the National Institute of Health’s Reproductive Medicine Network, a clinical trials network that performs cutting-edge research in infertility and reproduction. I have also had a longstanding research interest in premature ovarian failure. She is also lead investigator on three mentored research NIH grant awards.

Santoro joined the University of Colorado School of Medicine as chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2009. Prior to joining CU, she held faculty appointments at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School and Harvard Medical School.

Santoro earned her medical degree from Albany Medical College of Union University and completed a postdoctoral residency at Beth Israel Medical Center and a fellowship in the Departments of Gynecology and Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Guest contributor: CU School of Medicine

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CU Pharmacy earns national awards for community service, excellence in assessment

The University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was recently recognized with two national awards at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s (AACP) annual meeting.

“I am very happy that we were recognized on a national stage for the good work we and our students do at our school and in our community,” said Dean Ralph Altiere.

The school received the 2017 Lawrence C. Weaver Transformative Community Service Award along with the AACP Award for Excellence in Assessment.

Transformative Community Service Award

The Transformative Community Service Award is presented annually to a school of pharmacy that demonstrates a commitment to addressing unmet community needs through education, practice, and research. This should be demonstrated through the development of exceptional programs that go beyond the traditional service role of academic pharmacy.

During a site visit with AACP, CU Pharmacy showcased several programs, they refer to as their Colorado Commitment, including prescription drug abuse prevention and the combatting the opioid epidemic, rural health programs, commitment to community health centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers through faculty positions, student rotations, and scholarly work, the Aurora Elementary Schools Nutrition Program – in which over 1,500 pharmacy students and 8,000 elementary students have participated since program inception, and finally their work with the Community Campus Partnership and the work of Robert McGranaghan, MPH.

CU Pharmacy faculty member, Gina Moore, PharmD, gathered all the elements needed for the award submission, “Thanks to Dr. Moore’s commitment and persistence over the years in preparing our award application and arranging our site visits and the great work of our faculty and students,” said Dean Altiere.

“Gina and everyone at the School of Pharmacy – congratulations! The School of Pharmacy has been a great champion and leader on the campus for community engagement and this award gives further evidence of that,” added Robert McGranaghan.

The award consists of a commemorative sculpture honoring the institution’s extraordinary social commitment and $5,000 to distribute to community partners to support continuation or expansion of their collaboration.

Excellence in Assessment

The school received the AACP Award for Excellence in Assessment thanks to work by faculty members Eric Gilliam, PharmD, Jason Brunner, PhD, Wesley Nuffer, PharmD, Toral Patel, PharmD and Megan Thompson, PharmD.

The award recognizes outstanding Doctor of Pharmacy assessment programs for their progress in developing and applying evidence of outcomes as part of the ongoing evaluation and improvement of pharmacy professional education. The manuscript CU Pharmacy faculty submitted was titled: Unique Assessments for Unique Experiences: Content Validation of Three Assessment Tools for Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Rotations.

“The Experiential Education Committee at CU Pharmacy used a data-driven validation and assessment plan to guide the design, testing, and implementation of five high-stakes advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) student assessments,” explained Jason Brunner, PhD.

The use of a four-year validation plan to guide the design, testing, and implementation of new final APPE student performance evaluations resulted in significant and positive changes to the experiential education program.

“Students must demonstrate a readiness to practice pharmacy prior to graduation, and we are now better able to document each student’s level of skill during each experiential program. Compared to our prior performance evaluations, the value of the feedback to the student has much improved. We trust when a preceptor indicates a student is ready to practice, that the student truly is ready to advance in their career,” said Eric Gilliam, PharmD.

Ultimately, the five new APPE assessment tools, each unique to its own practice setting and designed by input of active preceptors,  have proven to be effective in providing reliable and meaningful feedback for students.

Congratulations to the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy on both awards and the national recognition!

Guest contributor: This story was written by Stephanie Carlson, content producer, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

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CU Anschutz faculty recognized for 25 years of service

Thirty-nine faculty members who have served the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (and its predecessor, the CU Health Sciences Center) for 25 years were honored at a reception at Fulginiti Pavilion on May 10.

Also attending the event were CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman and Provost Roderick Nairn, as well as the deans from the CU Anschutz schools and colleges.

The leadership team lauded the faculty members – 15 were able to attend – for their lengthy service to the university. Each faculty member received a commencement medal, emblazoned with the seal of the University of Colorado, in appreciation for their service.

The 39 awardees:

Tamara Tobey, School of Dental Medicine

Anne Wilson, School of Dental Medicine

John Carpenter, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Steven Anderson, School of Medicine

Linda Barbour, School of Medicine

Kenny Chan, School of Medicine

Elisabeth Cheney, School of Medicine

Mark Earnest, School of Medicine

Raymond Estacio, School of Medicine

Bifeng Gao, School of Medicine

Edward Gill, School of Medicine

Roger Giller, School of Medicine

Brian Greffe, School of Medicine

Jennifer Hagman-Hazell, School of Medicine

Brack Hattler, School of Medicine

Karen Helm, School of Medicine

Vernon Holers, School of Medicine

Pamela Johnson, School of Medicine

Elizabeth Kozora, School of Medicine

Andrew Liu, School of Medicine

Kelly Maloney, School of Medicine

Connor McBryde, School of Medicine

James McManaman, School of Medicine

Samia Nawaz, School of Medicine

David Nowels, School of Medicine

David Olds, School of Medicine

David Price, School of Medicine

Tracy Price-Johnson, School of Medicine

Mona Rizeq, School of Medicine

Cordelia Rosenberg, School of Medicine

Steven Rosenberg, School of Medicine

Irene Schauer, School of Medicine

Deborah Seymour, School of Medicine

Albert Singleton, School of Medicine

Gary Thieme, School of Medicine

Thomas Whitehill, School of Medicine

Michael Wilson, School of Medicine

Michael Woontner, School of Medicine

Madalynn Neu, College of Nursing

Guest contributor: Kelly Mason, assistant director of events and partnerships, contributed the photo.

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Linda Barbour, MD, wins Norbert Freinkel Award

Linda Barbour, MD, MSPH, professor of medicine, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (SOM) will receive the 2018 Norbert Freinkel Award next month at the American Diabetes Association’s 78th Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Fla.

The award, given in memory of Norbert Freinkel, a dedicated investigator and thought leader, honors a researcher who has made outstanding contributions to the understanding and treatment of diabetes in pregnancy.

In June, Barbour will deliver the Norbert Freinkel Award Lecture entitled, “Metabolic Culprits in Obese Pregnancies and Gestational Diabetes:  Big Babies, Big Twists, Big Picture.”

Barbour is a tenured professor in Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes and Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the SOM.  She is medical director of the OB Diabetes and High-Risk Clinics at University of Colorado Hospital and serves on the editorial board for “Diabetes Care.”  

Barbour is a clinician/translational scientist in the management of obesity in pregnancy and gestational diabetes. She has made seminal observations on the hormonal and signaling changes that increase insulin resistance in pregnancy and the intrauterine and dietary factors that contribute to nutrient excess and affect newborn body composition.  Her NIH and ADA-funded studies have prompted guideline changes to improve maternal/fetal health. And she has published more than 100 manuscripts, book chapters, and guidelines.

As previous CME Director, Barbour loves to teach medical and obstetrics students, residents, fellows, and faculty. She also supervises treatment for the majority of mothers with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  She is a dedicated mentor for junior investigators across neonatology, maternal-fetal medicine, and endocrinology and helped to build a Colorado translational research program in Maternal and Child Metabolic Health. 

She was recently profiled in an article in CU Medicine Today magazine for her work with Teri Hernandez, PhD, RN, associate professor of medicine and nursing.

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Ronald Sokol, MD, named president of American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

Ronald Sokol, MD, a professor of pediatrics-gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition in the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has been named president of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).

Sokol was introduced as AASLD president in a recent article in Hepatology magazine. “Ron has made significant contributions to the field of hepatology through his clinical expertise, research, mentoring, advocacy and service within national organizations,” the article states.

In addition to his hospital affiliations at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado Hospital, the article notes, Sokol is the vice chair of clinical and translational research in the Department of Pediatrics and director of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. CCTSI recently received a $46.5 million NIH grant to continue its work of accelerating research discoveries and new health care treatments.

The article in Hepatology went on to say that Sokol has been an NIH-funded investigator since 1986 “and has received an astonishing $200 million in grant support to date. His major clinical interests are pediatric hepatology and liver transplantation. Ron’s scientific interests include the mechanisms of vitamin E deficiency and cholestasis; the role of mitochondria and oxidative stress in liver injury; the mechanisms of liver cell injury in cholestasis; fatty liver, and parenteral nutrition-associated liver injury; the pathogenesis of biliary atresia; and the development of predictive models for rare childhood liver diseases.

“To that end, Ron has published 250 original articles pertaining to basic science, translational and clinical research studies in pediatric hepatology.”

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