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Center for Women’s Health Research holds career day for high school girls

Participants of the ‘Exploring Healthcare Careers for High School-Aged Girls’ event, hosted by the CWHR, practice suturing techniques at the Center for Surgical Innovation
Participants in the ‘Exploring Healthcare Careers for High School-Aged Girls’ event, hosted by the CWHR, practice suturing techniques at the Center for Surgical Innovation

On June 8, the Center for Women’s Health Research (CWHR) and UCHealth partnered to host the third annual “Exploring Healthcare Careers for High School-Aged Girls,” an interactive learning opportunity for high school girls interested in exploring healthcare and science careers. The day-long program offered 60 young women the chance to visit the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, attend lectures and Q&A sessions and participate in hands-on learning experiences to gain insight into the working lives of scientists and healthcare professionals.

After a mother-daughter breakfast and welcoming remarks by CWHR Director Judy Regensteiner, the participants spent their morning visiting the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility and the Center for Surgical Innovation (CSI). At the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, they observed how lab discoveries translate into cell therapies; at CSI, they experimented with suturing techniques on a variety of tissues. Various researchers and surgical residents explained their different roles at Gates and CSI, and described the diverse and sometimes unpredictable paths they took to get there.

At lunch, the participants were treated to an insightful lecture by Dr. Anne Libby, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, who discussed the five indicators of talent that can lead to thoughtful, satisfying career choices: yearning, satisfaction, rapid learning, glimpses of excellence, and flow. “In choosing a career path,” she told the girls, “don’t ask yourselves what you want to be. Ask yourselves who you are, and how you can become more you.” A psychiatrist and nurse practitioner from the Johnson Depression Center also spoke to the girls about careers in behavioral health.

The afternoon’s activities included a visit to the Cardiac and Vascular Center’s heart catheter lab, where the girls saw simulated demonstrations of heart catheterization and expanded their knowledge of the various options for professions in cardiology.

The day ended with presentations by athletic trainers from the Sports Medicine Department at Children’s Hospital Colorado, who discussed the options for individuals interested in sports medicine careers. When the day’s activities came to a close, many of the girls expressed their gratitude and excitement at the insights they had gained after exposure to so many career options on campus.

“It opened my mind to a health-centered career,” one participant said. “Before, I simply wanted to do engineering, but now medical school seems interesting too.”

Another, reiterating Dr. Libby’s message, came to the following conclusion: “The best part about the day was realizing that there is no ideal way to get anywhere – you just have to be yourself and follow your heart and it will lead you to where you need to be.”

The CWHR is looking forward to hosting the event again next year.

Guest Contributor:  Andrew Weaver, Public Relations and Community Education Coordinator, Center for Women’s Health Research

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High school girls seek health care careers

In early June, over 50 high school girls from around Aurora and Denver had the extraordinary opportunity to get an inside look at several centers operating on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The one-day program, “Exploring Careers in Health Care,” is hosted by the Center for Women’s Health Research and UCHealth. Its goal is to expose a diverse group of young women to careers in health care that they may not know about and to connect them with mentors who can share insight into their own career paths.

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Participants test out medical instruments for surgery.

The participants toured the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, learning about stem cell therapy and personalized medicine. The Gates researchers explained how following a path of biology, chemistry or engineering could lead to unique careers in health care to treat and cure various cancers, skin and muscle diseases, and type 2 diabetes. One participant was particularly interested, noting, “This is a field that you don’t hear about on a regular basis, but has the potential to change the world of medicine and the future.”

At the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the girls heard from students about their varied paths into pharmacy and the rewarding careers for which they are training. The Skaggs students guided the girls through activities to make their own lip balm and to experiment with drink flavoring. They also had an interactive discussion with Laura Borgelt, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, associate dean for administration and operations at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, about the complications, challenges and opportunities in medical marijuana research.

A visit to the University of Colorado Eye Center allowed the girls to learn about eye health, diseases of the eye, and the state-of-the-art treatment and surgery happening at CU Anschutz. Using blindfolds and special glasses to simulate visual impairments, the girls helped each other through common tasks such as pouring water into a cup and typing on a keyboard. They could momentarily experience how a patient interacts with the world, and how a caregiver helps guide them through treatment.

The highlight of the day was the visit to the Center for Surgical Innovation where the girls got to try their hand at suturing and experimenting with medical instruments for surgery. One participant said, “I loved it. I came home excited and ready to learn more. It opened up my mind to medical professions I had never heard of.”

Surgical training at CWHR Girls Career Day, 2016

Surgical training at CWHR Girls Career Day, 2016

As they interacted with doctors, pharmacists, research assistants and ophthalmologists, the girls had smiles on their faces and asked thoughtful questions. “We were delighted to welcome these young women to campus. We know the importance of helping young people learn about careers in science and also connecting them with leaders and mentors in the field to help them navigate various career paths in healthcare and research,” said Judy Regensteiner, PhD, director of the Center for Women’s Health Research, professor of medicine, and holder of the Judith and Joseph Wagner Chair in Women’s Health Research.

The program is in its second year and was a tremendous success. With such high demand, the Center for Women’s Health Research and UCHealth plan to make this an annual activity.

Guest Contributor: Sarah Westmoreland, MPH, Public and Community Education Liaison, Center for Women’s Health Research

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Donors celebrated for their passion and generosity

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

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

Bensons at CU Donor Dinner

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

Students in spotlight

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

Linigers at CU Denver Donor Dinner

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

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

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

This year’s honorees

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

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

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

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

‘One of Denver’s top assets’

Wagners at CU Donor Dinner

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

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

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

‘World-class leadership’

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

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

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

‘Incredible work’

Cailes at CU Donor Dinner

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

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

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

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

Chancellors at CU Donor Dinner

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

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

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

‘Means so much’

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

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

Lark at CU Donor Dinner

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

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

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

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

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