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June 12, 2015

Message from Paul Ramsey

Congratulations to this year's graduates and the faculty and staff who made it happen

Dear Colleagues:

Paul G. Ramsey

Among the many events I value highly and enjoy each year, the granting of the M.D. degree to UW graduating medical students is among my favorites. 

This year, among 216 graduating seniors, 140 were from Washington, including 43 from Eastern Washington (Pullman and Spokane), 17 were from Wyoming, 16 from Alaska, 19 from Montana and 23 from Idaho.  A record 60 percent of the class is entering a primary-care residency.

Benaroya Hall was filled to capacity May 22 with approximately 2,000 family members and close friends supporting the graduates with enthusiastic, frequent standing ovations during the ceremony, which included the 2015 Investiture of Doctoral Hoods and the Physician’s Oath Ceremony.

2015 Graduation Ceremony. (Image courtesy of GradImages)
2015 Graduation

In addition to the granting of the M.D. degree to students, a number of awards are given to students and faculty members. Four faculty were honored by the students with the Distinguished Teacher Award. Anthony “Abe” DeSantis, clinical professor of medicine, received the award for a third year—this year for clinical teaching and in past years for both basic science and clinical teaching. Tom McNalley, attending physician in rehabilitation medicine and a member of the College faculty, received the award for clinical teaching for a second year.  Maureen Kim Lynch, who teaches in WWAMI Idaho, received the award for WWAMI teachers. Mara Rendi, assistant professor of pathology, received the award for basic science teaching and was selected as graduation speaker. 

Congratulations as well to the students who received School of Medicine and departmental awards and to the following students who graduated with high honors: Codi Fitzgerald, Serena Johnson, Karissa Keenan, Lesley King, and Shannon Rush. Other awards to students and staff are described below in the School of Medicine graduation feature. To all awardees, these honors are a strong indication of the excellence and compassion you bring to your work. Thank you.

And thank you to all graduating students and to the faculty and staff who have contributed to their education. It is an honor to work with each of you!


PGRamsey Signature2

Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine,
University of Washington


Virtual reality games reduce pain. Now to answer why.

A visual from SnowWorld. (Image courtesy of Sam Sharar).
Snow World

A research team at UW wants to know why burn patients immersed in an alternative universe, SnowWorld, find therapies and wound changes bearable. The team (Sam Sharar, UW professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine, Hunter Hoffman, UW research engineer in Human Photonics Lab, David Patterson, UW professor of rehabilitation medicine and staff psychologist at the UW Burn Center, and Todd Richards, UW professor of radiology) is now engaged in a project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to discern whether pain perception can be further reduced by drugs that heighten the intensity of the virtual reality experience. The UW team completed a series of experiments combining virtual reality with low-dose ketamine, a drug that at higher dosages is used as a tranquilizer, an analgesic and antidepressant. At very low doses, though, the drug also can enhance the intensity of sights and sounds.

Preliminary evidence suggests that patients report a more engaging experience and a greater analgesic effect with virtual reality after taking ketamine. The team will complete a similar study with functional magnetic resonance imaging. “We may be able to improve the effect of virtual reality not by changing the hardware or by changing the software but by changing the user,” Sharar said. For more on the story, see the article on HSNewsBeat.

NCAA basketball players more prone to sudden cardiac death

(Image courtesy of Creative Commons).
Male college basketball

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes have a significantly higher incidence of sudden cardiac death than previously thought, especially among men, African Americans and male basketball players, according to a study published May 14 in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. In addition, the main cause of sudden cardiac death differs from what is commonly assumed to be the root of the problem.

The study, "Incidence, Etiology, and Comparative Frequency of Sudden Cardiac Death in NCAA Athletes: A Decade in Review," was conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, Mayo Clinic and Brown University. The lead author of the study is Kimberly Harmon, UW professor of family medicine and a physician in the UW Sports Medicine Center. For more on the story, see the article on HSNewsBeat.

Other research news involving UW Medicine:

Clinical Care

UW Medicine: a new healthcare option for Washington state public employees

The UW Medicine Accountable Care Network was chosen by the Washington Health Care Authority as a new healthcare option for those enrolled in the Public Employees Benefit Board (PEBB) program. The new option will be available during the 2015 open enrollment period in November, with coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

The Health Care Authority initially will offer the UW Medicine Accountable Care Network in Snohomish, King, Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston counties, with plans for statewide expansion in 2017.  For more on the story, see the article on HSNewsBeat.

Doctors’ orchestra dazzles patients, staff at Harborview

A musician-doctor tunes up before the show. (Photo by Brian Donohue).
Doctors Orchestra

More than 80 members of the World Doctors Orchestra played a benefit concert June 6 at Harborview Medical Center and received much accolade. They ended their two-hour performance with the percussive Symphony No. 5 by Dmitri Shostakovitch, complete with timpani and gong, a number that could be heard throughout the hospital's core. Al Berg, UW professor emeritus of family medicine, was on the piano and celeste.

Dozens of patients, family members and Harborview staff attended Saturday's concert. In its U.S. West Coast premiere, the orchestra also played Seattle's Benaroya Hall on Sunday and traveled to Vancouver, B.C., for a concert on Monday. For a wonderful audio slideshow, please see the story on HSNewsBeat.

Patient story: Motorcyclist hit by wrong-way driver talks to KIRO 7

Patrick Roberts, a motorcyclist who was hit by a car going the wrong way on Highway 99, speaks out from his hospital bed at Harborview Medical Center. For more on the story, see the video on KIRO-TV CBS 7.

Other clinical news involving UW Medicine:

Education and Training

'In Training:' Resident Josh Lacsina at Harborview’s International Clinic

Dr. Josh Lacsina comforts a patient at the International Medicine Clinic. (Photo by Emily Rasinski).
Josh Lacsina

Internal medicine resident Josh Lacsina works through interpreters at Harborview’s International Medicine Clinic to deliver very tough news. On his first day back at the clinic after completing a medical rotation in Kenya, he had to deliver two cancer diagnoses. Such moments play out in more than 70 languages and dialects at the clinic, which provides care for adult refugees and immigrants. The article is part of the series “In Training” by Emily Rasinski, a professional photographer profiling UW medical residents. For more on the story and photos,see the article on HSNewsBeat.

Medical student Janetta Lorenza Arellano receives prestigious minority scholarship

Janetta Lorenza Arellano
Janetta Arellano

Janetta Arellano, a UW second-year medical student pursuing a career in pediatrics, was one of 21 students nationwide to receive a $10,000 minority scholarship from the American Medical Association Foundation.

The scholarships recognize scholastic achievement, financial need and commitment to improving minority health among first or second-year students in historically under-represented groups in the medical profession. Less than 9 percent of U.S. physicians fall within these groups, which include African American/Black, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino.

Arrellano’s interest is in promoting healthcare for Latino minorities by reducing the barriers associated with adequate treatment. She is the current co-chair for the UW Chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association and the Pediatric Interest Group. While working with residents at Seattle Children’s Hospital, she founded the Pediatric Physical Exam Workshop and the Pediatric Resident Panel events. For more on the award, see the AMA website.

Other education news involving UW Medicine:

School of Medicine Graduation

Keynote Mara Rendi receives standing ovation: 'Listen to your gut, take time for yourselves, appreciate your families'

Students seated at graduation. (Photo by Barbara Clements).
Graduation Seating

By Barbara Clements
UW Medicine Strategic Marketing & Communications

As the Pomp and Circumstance music floated through Benaroya Hall May 22, UW medical student Geetha Sridharan, soon to be Dr. Sridharan, looked up and over her shoulder at the balcony where her family gathered and waived enthusiastically, before she was lost in a sea of green and black robes at the front of the hall.

“Many of the graduates wouldn’t be here today without the support of loved ones, and in a very real sense, today is your day too,” Paul Ramsey, dean of the UW School of Medicine, told the audience at the 66th graduation of the UW School of Medicine.

Celebration after graduation. (Photo by Barbara Clements).
Graduation Hug

About 60 percent of the class is entering a primary care residency training program, which is a record for the UW School of Medicine.

Shannon Rush
Shannon Rush

Keynote speaker Mara H. Rendi, associate professor of pathology, echoed Ramsey’s sentiment. She urged the graduates to listen to their gut, take time for themselves and appreciate their families.Rendi said she’s also been in situations where the graduates will soon find themselves during their residency training:  “Where all eyes turn to you for the answer or prognosis, and you have no idea what to say or do.” To this, Rendi said to ask for advice from the nurses, follow your gut, be honest and trust in your training.  “Nurses will help, your gut is usually right, and your training will kick in,” Rendi assured the students.  She received a standing ovation, a first for a UW School of Medicine Hooding Ceremony, said Ramsey.

After the ceremony, Sridharan, who comes from a family of doctors, was quickly enveloped by her family and whisked away to dinner. She will complete her residency training at the University of Chicago Medical Center in pediatrics. She received the UW School of Medicine Service Award from 2012 to 2015 and comes from the Wyoming WWAMI program.

Graduation Awards

Sheida Aalami
Sheida Aalami

At the UW School of Medicine graduating ceremony, the Margaret S. Anderson Award was presented to Sarah Wood, associate director of student affairs. The award honors faculty and/or staff who have shown exceptional concern for the support for the medical students.

Sarah Wood
Sarah Wood

The Ellen Griep Award honors a graduate who has provided inspiration to their classmates. This year the award was bestowed on Shannon Rush. Rush also received the UW Excellence in Women’s Health Award and the UW School of Medicine Service Award from 2012 to 2014. She will enter residency training in obstetrics and gynecology and comes from the WWAMI program in Pullman.

The Rosenblatt Community Service Award, named after the late and much-loved UW Professor of Family Medicine Roger Rosenblatt, is given to a graduating student for contributions to the School of Medicine and to the larger community. This year, it was bestowed on Sheida Aalami. Aalami, who comes from the WWAMI program in Seattle, received the UW School of Medicine Service Award from 2012 to 2015. She plans to focus on primary care internal medicine.


Neil Duncanson: A half-century with Harborview

Dr. Neil Duncanson
Duncanson Headshot

UW graduate Neil Duncanson, who finished his pediatric medical residency at UW in 1961, ended his career as a volunteer-teacher in the Harborview pediatric clinic in May. No other physician-teacher has had such a long association with Harborview, according to Abraham Bergman, UW professor emeritus in pediatrics.

Duncanson said when he graduated from medical school at Northwestern University in the late 1950s, an internship at Harborview Medical Center was highly sought after.

After a short stint in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Duncanson came back to UW Medicine as assistant director of the birth defects program in 1963 and as an attending physician at Harborview. Even after going into private practice in Burien in 1968, Duncanson maintained a connection with Harborview as a preceptor at the pediatric outpatient clinic. He said he learned as much from his students as they did from him. “Teaching made me keep up,” said Duncanson. “When you teach or precept, you have to be up to date and stay on your toes.” 

Now planning to retire, Duncanson will spend more time with his family. But the half-century relationship with Harborview was something special. “It’s been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed it all,” he said.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine names Nathaniel Watson president

Dr. Nathaniel Watson
Nathaniel Watson

Sleep specialist Nathaniel F. Watson, UW associate professor of neurology, was recently named the 30th president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) board of directors. 

Watson will provide direction for the nearly 9,000 physicians, scientists and allied health professionals who are members of the AASM, the leading professional society in the medical subspecialty of sleep medicine.

About 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep problem and nearly 60 percent of them have a chronic sleep disease, such as obstructive sleep apnea, according to AASM.

“With so many negative health consequences associated with untreated sleep disease, it is crucial that we continue to raise awareness about the importance of healthy sleep for personal well-being and public safety,” Watson said.


Peter Cavanaugh honored by NASA

Dr. Peter Cavanaugh and team in a weightless environment.
Peter Cavanough

Peter Cavanaugh, UW professor of orthopedics and sports medicine, received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal for the development and testing of exercise countermeasures against bone loss during long space flights.

The Distinguished Public Service Medal recognizes extraordinary achievements at a level of excellence that has made a profound or indelible impact to NASA mission success. Cavanagh was the principal investigator for a number of space flight experiments. For more on the story, see the article on HSNewsBeat.

Nancy Gray Stevens named 2015 Family Medicine Educator of the Year

Dr. Nancy Gray Stevens
Nancy Gray Stevens

Nancy Gray Stevens, UW professor in the Department of Family Medicine and adjunct professor of bioethics, humanities and epidemiology (Public Health), was named the 2015 Family Medicine Educator of the Year by the Washington Association of Family Physicians.

Stevens has been the director of the WWAMI Family Medicine Residency Network for more than 15 years and has been directing and teaching the UW Family Medicine Faculty Development Fellowship for more than 27 years. Both programs have helped elevate the Pacific Northwest as a role model in family medicine education and primary care services. Said the Washington Association of Family Physicians: “Stevens has been the gentle but brilliant driving force behind both of these establishments.” 

UW Medicine re-accredited as a CEO Cancer Gold Standard™ employer for 2015

UW Medicine has been re-accredited as a CEO Cancer Gold Standard™ employer for 2015 by the CEO Roundtable on Cancer.

“Your team continues to show dedication and commitment to maintaining this high standard of excellence in cancer prevention, early detection and quality care. It is because of your leadership that your employees and their families will continue to celebrate their employer's keen interest in their health and well-being,” said the accreditation letter.

UW Medicine hospitals win top environmental awards

Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center made the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award list from Practice Greenhealth. The Top 25 Award recognizes healthcare facilities across the country that exemplify environmental excellence and are setting the highest standards for environmental practices in healthcare. This is the ninth consecutive year for UW Medical Center to receive the top award and the fourth consecutive year for Harborview. For more on the story, see the UW news story.

Harborview receives an A for safety

Harborview Medical Center earns an A in hospital safety
Harborview Safety

Harborview Medical Center received an A for hospital safety by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization which evaluates and scores 2,500 hospitals across the country. Harborview is one of 11 hospitals in the state with an A grade (43 were graded).

The Hospital Safety Score includes 28 measures, all currently in use by national measurement and reporting programs (the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement). The Hospital Safety Score methodology has been peer reviewed and published in the Journal of Patient Safety.


Videos from the 2015 UW Mini-Medical School are now available on YouTube

Updating Type 1 Diabetes, June 23

UW Medicine's Diabetes Care Center hosts a public event on Type 1 (chronic) diabetes—everything you should know, including future treatments. 7-9 p.m., Magnuson Park Mountaineers Program Center. To register, email leejhill@uw.edu with number of attendees. For more information, see the flyer.

Future of Occupational Health Symposium, June 24-25

The symposium will focus on how identified themes affect three cores of occupational health: policy, practice and research. Keynote speakers will provide big picture insights into each of these cores and how they may look in the future. Additionally, the symposium will feature a history of occupational health workshop and a workshop on communicating occupational health issues to both the public and workers. June 24-25, Alder Commons. For more information.

Pride Parade 2015: Volunteers Still Welcome! June 28 (Sign up by June 12)

UW Medicine will be promoting our leadership role as a system for healthcare equality by participating in this year's Seattle PrideFest and Pride Parade on Sunday, June 28, 2015. Seattle's PrideFest and Pride Parade is the premier, annual event focused around our local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. You do not need to be a member of the LGBT community to participate, all are welcome!

If you are interested in marching in the Pride Parade alongside other UW Medicine employees, please register as a volunteer by completing the form at https://catalyst.uw.edu/webq/survey/uwmpride/269839 no later than June 12.  A representative from your entity will contact you with additional details. If you have any questions, please feel free to submit them to uwmpride@uw.edu.

4th International Conference on Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology, Sept. 25-26

Hosted by Seattle Children’s Research Institute, the conference will bring together international scientists and healthcare leaders to discuss the latest immunotherapy research in the field of pediatric oncology. This is a CME conference. Sept. 24-25 at the Westin Hotel. For more information.


Excellent resource for learning obstetric ultrasound

Over the past two years, Katrina Adams Waldorf, UW associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology, has worked with a group in radiology  Rob Nathan, Bill Marks and Nicole Goldsmith) to refine and expand upon a pregnancy ultrasound curriculum and to create teaching videos online. The goal of the course is to teach pregnancy ultrasound in parts of the world where formal training is not available. They have taught the course all over the world including Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Nepal, Laos and Guatemala.

There are 17 training videos that last between 20 and 45 minutes covering many aspects of pregnancy ultrasound. The course teaches all the concepts typically taught in residency, but also goes beyond by including training on identifying ectopic pregnancy and anomalies. The concepts are presented very clearly with excellent examples of a range of normal and abnormal ultrasound findings. Course website (tinyurl.com\uwultrasound).

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.

In the News
Articles that feature UW Medicine and Health Sciences faculty, staff, students and trainees.