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CU Pre-Health Scholars Program’s Community Strengthening Project

CUPS high-school student
CUPS high school student

A select group of young adults with an interest in pursuing health careers receive an introduction to the many diverse opportunities available to them through the CU Pre-Health Scholars Program (CUPS) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora while they’re still in middle school and high school. The program often takes the students beyond the classroom into the community providing some highly impactful experiences. A Community Strengthening Project provided by the CUPS students to the Comitis Crisis Center near CU Anschutz, in conjunction with the CU Anschutz Medical Campus Office of Inclusion and Outreach, CU School of Dental Medicine’s American Student Dental Association Colorado Chapter, CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Walgreens Pharmacy, included a pancake breakfast, along with free flu shots and take-care bags for center clients. The Comitis Crisis Center provides a safe shelter for individuals and families that find themselves homeless. In addition, the center offers visitors ways to rebuild their lives, support with family emergency housing shelter, daily meals, emergency cold weather shelter 24/7, mental health and substance abuse treatment.

The CUPS junior & senior high school students from around the Denver/Aurora metro area had the opportunity to serve pancakes, sausage, and orange juice to over 40 guests from the Comitis Crisis Center. CUPS participants played volleyball, football, and did crafts with the children.

A Walgreens pharmacist, along with two CU Pharmacy students, administered over 25 free flu shots to guests 7 years old or older.

CUPS high-school students
CUPS high school students
CUPS high-school students
CUPS high school students

Daisy Chapa, a senior from Overland High School and the CUPS class president, said, “It’s incredibly rare that students get an opportunity to sit down with homeless individuals and learn about their background and experiences.” The primary objective for the CUPS participants is to engage them in community service while learning more about the health disparities among the homeless population. In addition to flu shots and pancakes, CUPS participants gathered and donated hygiene items and created take-care bags for children, men, and women. Bags included items such as winter socks, feminine products, soap, lotion, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Chapa continues, “I had envisioned middle-aged men with drug problems or mentally ill dependents; instead, we met families with tiny children and single parents. Some of these children were happy with their lives despite not having a home to live in or any material goods. They improvised with what they had and saw themselves as no less than anyone else, which is a mindset that even many grown adults fail to adapt to. Having the opportunity to meet with and interact with these individuals showed me to be grateful for what I have and, one day, I will work towards helping those who have fallen on hard times.”

CUPS Program Director Abenicio Rael said, “This was an eye opening experience for many of our students as well as our staff and myself. It reminded me of my own privileges and how to be aware of them before imposing them on others unconsciously.”

“The Anschutz Medical Campus Office of Inclusion and Outreach has done many wonderful things for my pre-collegiate group from exposing us to cadaver-based anatomy to professionalism in the academic world”, said Chapa. “But, the greatest thing they have ever done is remind us to be humble and human by not getting carried away with ignorance or selfishness. The pancake breakfast served as a reality check for some of us, for others, it was a reminder that we are all humans struggling to find one thing- happiness.”

Guest Contributor: Dominic F. Martinez, Ed.D., Senior Director of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus Office of Inclusion and Outreach

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The Turtle Project

Volunteers help Matthews transport donations.

Volunteers help Matthews transport donations.

 

 

As a scientist, Shawna Matthews, PhD, was used to spotting problems and searching for solutions. But when she became concerned about the people experiencing homelessness in her community, the last place she expected to find a solution was in her daily commute to work.

Shawna Matthews

Shawna Matthews

In fall 2015, Matthews began a postdoctoral fellowship researching breast cancer metabolism in the Department of Pathology at the CU School of Medicine la viagra se vende sin receta. She noticed that her new commute required her to carry a lot of stuff between home and the Anschutz Medical Campus. “I left the house every day with a minimum of four bags,” she said. “And throughout the day, I seemed to accumulate more.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum were homeless veterans visiting the Mile High Behavioral Health Center on campus. Matthews observed them struggling to carry all of their possessions. “The contrast struck me and I wanted to do something about it.”

Connecting the campus to the community

Matthews had been looking for an opportunity to engage with her new campus. Her volunteer experience up until then was limited to acting as a science fair judge. But as she encountered the vets on campus and other experiencing homelessness in Aurora, she wondered how she could help.

The solution arrived via social media. On Facebook, Matthews saw her cousin in North Dakota was offering her acupuncture clinic as a drop-off site for the Turtle Project, a campaign that gathers and distributes backpacks and bags for the homeless.

The Facebook post resonated with her. “I sensed that this project could make a difference here,” she said. “My instinct was that CU Anschutz could pool the resources (and excess bags) that we have as scientists to help a population in our immediate community.”

Carrying their homes on their backs

The Turtle Project accepts donations of bags and filler items.

The Turtle Project accepts donations of bags and filler items.

Last fall, Matthews looked into the background of the Turtle Project and learned that the campaign’s name of the campaign refers to the fact that, like turtles, people experiencing homelessness carry their homes with them. The original Turtle Project began in North Dakota, when Fargo resident Whitney Fear learned that the homeless were receiving donations but didn’t have a place to keep their things.

The relevancy of this problem struck a chord with Matthews. “Providing resources only addresses part of the problem,” she said. “People experiencing homelessness also need a way to carry their stuff, and to keep their possessions secure.”

With cooler weather and the holidays approaching, Matthews quickly organized her own Turtle Project at CU Anschutz. She put out a call for bags, personal care supplies and lightweight nonperishable food items. She connected with the Comitis Crisis Center, a division of Mile High Behavioral Healthcare, to receive the bags and distribute them to their clients.

Donate a bag, backpack or supplies to the Turtle Project

Between now and mid-January, the Turtle Project aims to collect at least 200 bags, backpacks, and suitcases.

For more information about drop-off sites on the CU Anschutz campus, or for charitable contribution tax forms, please contact shawna.matthews@ucdenver.edu.

The project was a success. Matthews donated 98 bags to Comitis, whose homeless clients reported loving the bags. At each distribution event, there was more demand than supply, and those clients who didn’t receive a bag looked forward to the next delivery. Purses were especially popular. “The female clients were so excited,” Matthews said. “It’s fun getting a new purse.”

Turtle Project 2016

Matthews’ first campaign for the Turtle Project was such a success that she is organizing the project again this year. With additional volunteers, new drop-off locations, and increased storage space, she hopes to double the size of the collection. As of this writing, she had collected 35 bags in just a few weeks.

For those interested in helping, the project is soliciting donations of new or used bags, backpacks, large purses, conference bags, satchels and wheeled suitcases. These bags can be empty, or they can be pre-filled with small, useful items, such as hotel soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, Q-tips, hats, socks, gloves, small flashlights with batteries, ponchos and lightweight nonperishable food, such as granola bars or trail mix.

Other useful donations include items that provide some entertainment, such as playing cards, pen and paper, paperback books and puzzle books. The Turtle Project accepts these filler items, which it can use to stuff empty donated bags.

Seeing the unseen

For Matthews, the project has been a way to connect with her neighbors and co-workers by sharing resources, as well as to acknowledge and help often overlooked members of the community. She’s stepped outside of her comfort zone, but the results have been worth it.

“In academia, you can sometimes feel like you are a small spoke in a very large wheel,” she said. “I think the same thing happens to the homeless. The Turtle Project is a way of saying that we see each other.”

 

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Student-led project benefits pre-health majors

On an October Sunday, as a crowd of people maneuvered through a maze of tables in search of their next stop, Nevan McCabe stood on the sidelines of a transformed campus gymnasium beaming. His “baby,” the first 9Health Fair ever held on the CU Denver campus, was a bustling success, attracting more than 150 people, a welcome reward for McCabe and his fellow students who worked diligently since July to make it happen.

Nevan McCabe is a CU Denver pre-health major
Nevan McCabe is a CU Denver pre-health student and vice president of CU Denver Future Doctors. He got the ball rolling for the first 9Health Fair ever held on the CU Denver campus.

McCabe first envisioned the event last spring, when he volunteered at one of the more than 130 9Health Fairs across the state to gain experience drawing blood. “I was hearing a lot of testimonials from patients who had had huge life changes and life-saving experiences,” said McCabe, a CU Denver pre-health student. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t we have one of these?’ It just seemed obvious.”

Selling his idea was the easy part. McCabe, vice president of the student group CU Denver Future Doctors, had his fellow officers and adviser, Charles Ferguson, PhD, convinced almost before he finished his pitch. One reason for the easy bite, said Ferguson: The idea captures his chief message to his students.

Screenings at 9Health Fair at CU Denver
Screenings for a variety of health conditions were offered at the 9Health Fair at Auraria on Oct. 16.

“One of the big pushes in health care today is helping students learn how to work collaboratively and understand that medicine has to be about serving the community. It’s not just about the technical aspects of healing. It’s about understanding culture. It’s about understanding the barriers that people have to getting adequate healthcare. They need to do things for people because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it strengthens their application.”

A student and neighborhood boon

Since its launch, the project has been student-led, and most of Sunday’s 80 volunteers filling the PE Event Center gymnasium were also pre-health students given “first dibs” on positions. “The medical field is starting to rotate toward a more public health-centric mindset of preventing disease instead of just treating it, and the 9Health Fair is all about public health,” McCabe said, explaining the student benefit. An Aurora native who somehow finds time for regular workouts, climbing 14ers, playing the guitar and, most recently, learning the tricks of latte art, McCabe hopes to attend the CU School of Medicine on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and become an orthopedic surgeon.

Health care professionals from CU Anschutz were represented among the volunteers, as Kevin Deane, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, and his team offered a rheumatoid arthritis screening.

As youngsters bared their arms for flu shots and opened their mouths for dental exams, McCabe explained the decision to include children in the fair. The campus has a relatively large nontraditional-student population with families, he said, and a significant number of area neighborhood families struggle financially. “We found that from Colfax and Speer to Colfax and Federal, the average income for a family of four was $20,000,” McCabe said.

Dental screening at 9Health Fair at Auraria
Dental screenings were among the services offered at the 9Health Fair at the Auraria Campus.

While most of the fair services are free, a few, such as the comprehensive blood test, which looks for indictors of everything from thyroid issues to heart disease, have fees. So the students added fund-raising to their long list of preparation, so that they could offer testing to some families at no charge. Marketing was also a big focus, with the group canvassing the campus and neighborhoods, dropping off flyers in English and Spanish.

Only the beginning

After all of the tables were put away and the fair-goers long gone, the students’ work wasn’t done. “It’s just beginning,” McCabe said. Quest Diagnostics, which volunteers its services for all of the 9Health Fair blood-testing, will send the students itemized data, which the students will forward to public-health researchers.  Among other things, screenings included diabetes, oral health, body mass index, vitamin-D levels, and colon, skin and prostate cancers, which will help researchers study health disparities in the region.

Also, so that the project doesn’t die when he graduates, McCabe and the student group will continue their documentation for future students, so that the fair becomes an annual event. “We’ve created a huge master list online detailing everything we’ve done,” he said. “This way, they don’t have to re-create the wheel every time.”

Ferguson definitely envisions McCabe’s brainchild enduring.  “Nevan gets the gold medal for the idea; he and his team have worked really hard. But the whole campus community just stepped right up,” he said, noting that student and staff volunteers from across campus, not just CU, have made big contributions, including from Facilities Services and the Health Center at Auraria. “9Health Fair was really excited about it, too, because they have always wanted to have something in this area. It’s been an amazing experience.”

Gazing at the big turnout Sunday, McCabe couldn’t help smiling. “It’s not just me. It takes a whole team of people. But the idea that I could even get the ball rolling on something like this that impacts a whole community in such a great way is amazing,” McCabe said. “There’s no better way to serve people than by educating them about their health. It’s kind of my baby. I’m really proud of this.”

Guest contributor: Deb Melani

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CU Anschutz speaks in support of its community

Representatives of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, including faculty, administration and students, gathered on July 28 in the Boettcher Commons to address the impact that violent incidents have had on the nation as well as the Aurora community.

Rhonda Fields, a Democratic member of the Colorado State House of Representatives from Aurora, wanted to speak at the event but was attending the Democratic National Convention. “Our representative here in Aurora is no stranger when it comes to violence,” said Shanta Zimmer, MD, associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion at CU Anschutz. “She and her daughter are acutely aware of the pain of losing a son and brother to gun violence.” Fields sent a message of enduring hope that it is possible to overcome violence and bring about a better world. “We’ll get there. Together,” Fields said.

No matter the circumstances, the CU Anschutz community is always willing to share, listen, reflect and support no matter the circumstances, said Dominic Martinez, senior director of Inclusion and Outreach at CU Anschutz. “This institution is only as good as the people that are here,” he said. “I truly believe we have amazing people.”

Anschutz_diversity_medium

A collection of faculty, staff, students and administrators listen intently to the presentation.

As a campus that provides medical care to the community, speakers emphasized how important it is that everyone takes the time to listen to emotional concerns of patients, students and coworkers in relation to recent violence across the nation.

“We recognize the impact this is having on the lives of the people around us on this campus,” Zimmer said. “The purpose of today is to take that time out to ask people how they are doing.”
The event included a reading of a list of names of recent victims of violence and a poetic recital of Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again,” read by donnie l. betts, who Westword named to its 100 Colorado Creatives list.

Following the reading was a discussion of how violence has affected the lives of members of the audience. During closing remarks, attendees shared personal stories and offered messages of support for diversity on campus.

Also, on Aug. 18, a group of faculty and allies from CU Denver | Anschutz convened at the Lawrence Street Center’s Terrace Room to show solidarity for LGBTQ+ members of our community. This back-to-school event, sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is an annual occasion planned by our LGBTQ+ faculty. Together, these events are part of a continuing effort on campus to support and encourage solidarity around diversity and inclusion.

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Dental medicine students and faculty provide free screenings at Boys & Girls Club

For many kids, a trip to the dentist is an exercise in apprehension and fear. Not so for a group of Boys & Girls Club members who had their teeth examined by CU School of Dental Medicine (SDM) students on a recent evening.

The children smiled, giggled and opened wide for the dozen dental medicine students who volunteered at the free screening at the Vickers Club at the Nancy P. Anschutz Center in northeast Denver. Students and residents from both the SDM and the Children’s Hospital Colorado Pediatric Dental Center provided the service, along with oral health education and entertainment. Several SDM professors also participated in the outreach program that served about 50 children over a few hours.

CU Dental Medicine free screening

Dental Medicine student Hayley Quartuccio examines a boy’s teeth during the free screening at the Vickers Boys & Girls Club in northeast Denver.

“I think it’s great for the School of Dental Medicine to be involved in the community and to stress the importance of good oral health,” said Assistant Professor Elizabeth Shick, DDS. “This partnership is a great way to reach children, especially if the children may not have access to a dentist.”

The volunteer screeners made care referrals if a child’s family didn’t have access to a primary dentist. Shick said clinical care, with flexible insurance acceptance, is available through both the SDM and Children’s Hospital Colorado Healthy Smiles Clinic. Also, the SDM regularly offers no-appointment-necessary free screenings to obtain patients for upcoming licensure exams for senior dental students.

CU School of Dental Medicine outreach free screening

Dental Medicine student Nikki Kumor, right, examines a boy’s teeth along with SDM faculty member Dr. Chelsea Shellhart at the free screening event.

The SDM also provides dental care to underserved communities by hosting the annual Colorado Dental Association Give Kids a Smile event on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Shick said mobile screenings, such as the visit to the Boys & Girls Club, are important because they reach kids in their community environs. “It’s great to have dental school students here because they get to learn a lot about community outreach,” she said. “We hope it’s something they continue in their careers.”

Third-year dental student Nikki Kumor couldn’t imagine a better way to spend her time. She loves kids and hopes to become an orthodontist specializing in adolescents. “This screening allows us to see a lot of patients and interact with a large group,” she said. “The kids are lots of fun.”

CU School of Dental Medicine students volunteer at free screening.

School of Dental Medicine students wore costumes as they gave entertaining oral-health information to children at the free screening. Pictured from left are Adam Pink, Felisa Velasco, Libby Paulsen and Francis Babaran.

In dental school, students do a three-week pediatric rotation. Kumor’s rotation took place a year ago, so she jumped at the chance to examine children’s teeth.

“Kids don’t really know they have cavities; they don’t feel them or know what to look for. So here, it’s good to tell them,” Kumor said. “Also, this screening service is nice because we don’t often get to work with faculty members outside of school.”

Ken Durgans, Ed.D venta online viagra., Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, said the SDM, recognizing the importance of serving the surrounding community, is ramping up its outreach efforts. He said the SDM plans to add partnerships with other Boys & Girls Clubs in the Denver-Aurora area. Besides the screenings, the dental providers entertained the kids by dressing in tooth, toothpaste and tooth fairy costumes. They dispensed dental-care goodies as well as information about oral health preventative-care habits.

They also explained in an engaging way how the kids, if they so aspired, could someday become dentists.

“The kids see good oral-health habits from this fun, interactive perspective,” Durgans said. “The stars of the show are our (SDM) students and professors, because this is all after-hours and they don’t have to do this. They just want to help the community.”

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Hyatt Regency announces foundation to benefit CU Anschutz

William Butler

William Butler, chairman and CEO of Corporex, announces the creation of the Fitzsimons Aurora Medical Campus Foundation, Inc. alongside Lilly Marks, vice president for health affairs for the University of Colorado and Anschutz Medical Campus.

Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center has opened across the street from the CU Anschutz campus, and the university will be benefiting from more than new spaces for accommodations and events. Corporex Companies, LLC, which owns the conference center, has formed the Fitzsimons Aurora Medical Campus Foundation, Inc. to support programs related to patient care, research and education for areas on campus that do not have consistent sources of funding.

The establishment of the foundation was announced by William Butler, chairman and CEO of Corporex, in conjunction with the grand opening of the new conference center. Corporex contributed $25,000 to the foundation and plans to provide additional funds through a portion of the hotel’s revenue, which is projected to collect up to $1.5 million over the next 10 years.

Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center features 249 non-smoking guestrooms and suite accommodations, as well as 15 meeting rooms, which include 20,000 square feet of traditional meeting space, an 11,750-square-foot Grand Ballroom and 8,100 square feet of meeting space that holds the elite accreditation from the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC).

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CU Anschutz and Regis University academics behind new patient care law

A coalition of doctors and ethicists, including two from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and another from Regis University, are behind a new law signed Wednesday allowing doctors to take better care of the most vulnerable patients in hospitals and emergency rooms.

The `Medical Decision Making for Unrepresented Patients’ law was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper at a ceremony at the Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley. The measure will allow physicians to act as proxies for patients unable to provide consent or with no other proxy available.

Jackie Glover, PhD, professor of pediatrics at CU School of Medicine and Center for Bioethics and Humanities.

“This is a national problem that has been discussed for decades,” said Jackie Glover, PhD, professor of pediatrics who teaches ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at CU Anschutz. “If you are a patient without family or friends you are appointed a guardian but that’s an awful long process in Colorado.”

Glover along with CU Anschutz Professor of Medicine Jean Abbott, MD, MH and Debra Bennett-Woods, EdU, FACHE, and professor of health services education at Regis University, collaborated with a coalition of ethics committees under the umbrella of the Colorado Health Care Ethics Forum or CHEF to draft the legislation.

“This bill is a matter of social justice,” said Bennet-Woods, “HB16-11101 will enable the care team to provide the right treatment, at the right time and in the right setting.”

Glover said unrepresented patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities can’t speak for themselves and have no family or close friends to speak for them. By one estimate more than 16 percent of patients admitted to ICUs today are unrepresented and the number is growing. By 2020, more than 2 million Americans will have outlived friends and family.

Jean Abbott, MD, MH, professor emerita CU School of Medicine and Center for Bioethics and Humanities.

The group found willing partners in Rep. David Young and Sen. Kevin Lundberg who introduced the measure in the state Legislature.

The law will allow a second doctor, who is not the patient’s attending physician, to serve as a proxy of last resort when a patient is unable to provide consent and no proxy can be found. The hospital ethics committee must oversee this process, ensuring that all reasonable efforts to find a proxy have been made.

But the law will not require physicians to act as proxies. It also won’t replace volunteer guardianship programs, nor will it provide funding for a public guardianship program.

Glover said her group got together, examined what other states do and drafted the legislation. They were surprised at how quickly it advanced through the political process.

Bennet-Woods agreed.

“The process brought together a novel set of stakeholders and has the potential to keep them at the table as best practices are developed and rolled out,” she said.

But the law is only the beginning.

“The hard work is yet to come,” Glover said. “We now have to develop best practices going forward.”

 

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Cerebral palsy doesn’t stop her from dancing

Sarah Cauley

Sarah Cauley, a previous patient of the Gait Lab, is helping researchers understand how adults with cerebral palsy transition to adulthood. Sarah’s goal is to one day perform on Dancing with the Stars “to show anything is possible.”

Even though learning to waltz had been a lifelong dream for Sarah Cauley, she cancelled just one day before her first lesson. She was unable to open her hand enough for someone to hold it, and was afraid no one would want to try.

“The words ‘graceful’ and ‘cerebral palsy’ are two words that are not typically used in the same sentence,” explained Sarah, an individual with spastic cerebral palsy.

Watch Sarah dance today and you would describe her as graceful. Not only has Sarah become a competitive ballroom dancer, she is helping CU Anschutz researchers explore how cerebral palsy impacts health and mobility in adults.

Following a dream

Sarah was first inspired to follow her dream after seeing a news report about a blind individual who was able to learn ballroom dancing. She knew the challenges were different from her own, but thought there might be a way for her to learn. She called the dance studio, Colorado Dancesport, and explained her situation. They told her to come in for a lesson—the lesson that she ultimately cancelled.

Things were different six months later when she rescheduled for the eve of her 29th birthday. Despite still being nervous, she was resolved to pursue her dream.

“I stood across from my instructor, held out my hand, and I said, ‘Hello my name is Sarah, I’m 29 years old, and I would like to learn how to waltz.’”

Even though learning to dance proved more difficult than she first thought, Sarah eventually had the dance down. Five months later she and her instructor were performing a tango routine in front of a live audience. After that she entered her first ballroom dance competition.

“I dance because I love it,” said Sarah. “I hope when I dance people see that.”

People do see it. They see it when Sarah talks about dancing. They see it when she steps onto the dance floor. They see a lot that can be learned from Sarah’s determination, perseverance and courage.

Learning from Sarah

Jim Carollo, director of the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis at Children’s Hospital, also thinks much can be learned from Sarah’s active lifestyle, which is why he invited her to participate in the Cerebral Palsy Adult Transition (CPAT) study.

The CPAT study is designed to understand how the walking abilities of individuals with cerebral palsy changes during the transition from childhood to adulthood. Carollo, along with coinvestigator Amy Bodkin, are analyzing 70 former Gait Lab patients to see how their gait and other variables compare to data collected when they were children.

“Some people with cerebral palsy assume that they will have to stop walking at some point,” Carollo said. “However there’s no evidence to suggest that. What is important, is to avoid falling into a sedentary lifestyle, because there is evidence that that can lead to secondary health conditions, especially in patients with a pediatric condition.”

Sarah Cauley

A series of sensors track Sarah Cauley’s movements in the Gait Lab.

Carollo theorizes that maintaining an active lifestyle can help to maintain gait and walking ability—ultimately allowing individuals to stave off secondary conditions that accompany a sedentary lifestyle.

The hours Cauley spends practicing and performing her dance routines could also be helping her to maintain overall health. Cauley was eager to participate in the study since she knew there is little research on adults with cerebral palsy.

“I was excited to learn they were doing research to help people over 18 with cerebral palsy,” Sarah said. “There aren’t a lot of resources for that, and the condition doesn’t go away just because you’ve turned 18.”

This is a significant problem, according to Bodkin, who noted that the CPAT study is hoping to begin bridging the gap between patients lost during the transition from pediatric care to adult care.

Jim Carollo and Sarah Cauley

Jim Carollo chats with Sarah Cauley about the study. He will present her with a Health Passport at the end of the study outlining how her gait has changed over time and recommendations for the future.

“CP patients tend to get lost between 18-21 years old,” Bodkin said. “This happens to many adults with pediatric conditions. It is a combination of a lack of specialists and lack of insurance, as well as limited access to the healthcare system.”

Passport to health

Seeking to provide an additional resource for CPAT study participants, Carollo and Bodkin have created an individualized “health passport” for every participant. The health passport incorporates data collected from the gait analysis as well as lipid and insulin panels, quality of life assessments and other tests to give guidance on how they can live a healthy lifestyle. The passport is presented at a conference with the participant and their family.

“The health passport has been a strong motivator for patients to participate,” Carollo said. “The passport is valuable to them since it provides input on how they might maintain or improve movement going forward.”

Carollo and Bodkin plan to conclude the data collection phase of the study by the end of summer 2016. They hope that once analyzed, the data will shed light on adults with cerebral palsy and offer new ideas on how improve overall health and avoid secondary conditions.

“As a person who values measurements, I value being able to test previous patients not as an evaluation of the past, but as a roadmap for the future,” Carollo said.

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Middle school students see the future at Gates Biomanufacturing Facility

The future of medicine is happening at the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility (GBF), and engineers are already working to hand it down to the next generation. The GBF hosted 30 seventh and eighth graders from Bell Middle School (BMS) to introduce them to drug treatments and cellular therapies produced through research in regenerative medicine and stem cell biology.

Patrick Gaines

Patrick Gaines addresses a group of seventh and eighth graders from Bell Middle School.

A field trip to a cutting-edge facility that translates the discoveries of clinical and commercial investigators into clinical-grade products might sound a bit advanced for middle school students. However, Patrick Gaines, executive director of the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine, knew they would be able to understand the basic concepts and could use the trip to potentially inspire careers in science.

“By seventh and eighth grade kids have been exposed to the basics of biology,” Gaines said. “They’ve learned what a cell is and the function in a living organism. Middle school students are a terrific group to bring in since they understand the principles. This is our chance to show them a glimpse into the future.”

The trip they chose

The trip, which was arranged by BMS STEM science teachers Shanna Atzmiller and Nicole King, built on curriculum students had completed on cellular function and structure.

“Our STEM programs are career based, so we are scheduling career exploration field trips so students can apply the skills and knowledge they have gained in class,” Atzmiller said. “All of the students here chose this trip specifically because they were very interested in cells and stem cell research.”

Seventh grader Connor Logan jumped at the opportunity to tour the facility. He is so interested in the implications of cell research that the GBF even won out over other field trip options, which included the zoo and a nuclear reactor.

“I thought it was fascinating to see the lab,” Logan said. “It’s the type of thing you see in the newspaper or in videos, but I never thought I’d actually be looking at one in person.”

Even before leaving the lab, Logan was already coming up with ideas on how stem cell research could be taken further, including applying the technology to plants to synthesize chloroplasts that photosynthesize all day and start cellular respiration at night—thus potentially creating an everlasting lifeform.

Gabe Orosco, Grace Searls, Connor Logan

Gabe Orosco’s knowledge was put to the test by students like Grace Searls and Connor Logan.

Eighth grader Grace Searls chose to visit the GBF because she has witnessed several family members with genetic conditions. She was particularly curious what the limitations are of cell therapy and how far it will advance in the future.

“I enjoy research science, and I hope cell therapy is one of the ways we could help fix some of the diseases in my family,” Searls said.

Touring the future

The tour included a preliminary discussion about the facility led by Lead Engineer and Director of Quality Assurance Gabe Orosco. Orosco discussed the work being done at the GBF and rapid growth of the field. He also emphasized how the students were already preparing for potential careers as researchers and scientists.

“Science isn’t just about the facts, it’s about the people who do it,” Orosco said. “Your ability to solve problems, ask questions, collaborate with your classmates and imagine new ideas is prepping you for actual scientific knowledge and for being able to do what I do.”

The tour included clean rooms, a “miniature hospital,” and development facilities and equipment such as microbial cell fermenters. Along the way Orosco and Gaines took questions about the current uses of stem cells and discussed the implications of their growing prominence in medicine.

“Manipulating adult stem cells and returning them to their embryonic-like state is a great power,” said Gaines. “It is important that these kids understand the potential uses and leave with a broad imagination about the kind of problems they can solve one day.”

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Everyday Colorado online health survey tool launches statewide

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Students at the Colorado School of Public Health are launching an interactive, online community engagement tool April 4 during National Public Health Week called Everyday Colorado.

Everyday Colorado is investigating the intersection of the environment, public health and community development. The public engagement tool aims to generate knowledge from communities around the state about local environmental concerns, values, experiences and successes. It’s a statewide initiative involving the Colorado School of Public Health, Colorado State University, Tri-County Health Department and public health professionals throughout Colorado.

Tom Butts, project co-director and Deputy Director of Tri-County Health Department, said: “The success of this project relies on people sharing their stories with us to inform how we do business. We want to know about the everyday concerns and priorities of people in the diverse communities of Colorado, from Denver to Silverton to Sterling and everywhere in between.”

The project explores both the everyday and emerging environmental health issues across Colorado’s varied and changing landscapes. Professor Jill Litt teaches Environmental Health Policy & Practice at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and is a project co-director.

“Student involvement, through community engagement and developing content about environmental policies and action steps, is a critical component of this community-based learning project,” Litt said.

Jennifer Peel of the Colorado School of Public Health at Colorado State University and co-director of this project, said: “The ‘Everyday Colorado interactive online tool asks participants to identify values and rank concerns and offers the opportunity to learn more about emerging issues that may affect the health and well-being of Colorado communities.”

After obtaining stories from Colorado residents that are shared online, Everyday Colorado will publish a comprehensive results report later this year, highlighting local and professional perspectives about Coloradans’ values and necessary action steps to prepare the state for emerging challenges.

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