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September 3, 2010

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

UW Medicine alumni provide critical support to medical students

Dear Colleagues: 

This week, as the halls again fill with first and second year medical students arriving for orientations and the start of classes, I would like to thank the many faculty who are UW Medicine alumni. Roughly 800 faculty members trained in UW Medicine programs. In addition to teaching the next generations of health-care professionals and scientists, caring for patients, and conducting research, alumni play countless other important roles. From July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, UW Medicine alumni donated nearly $2 million to UW Medicine funds that support our mission of improving health. Physician alumni gave about $1 million of this, of which about one-third went to UW Medicine scholarships and student support funds. This support recognizes the tremendous importance of alleviating rising medical student debt. 

Alumni also play key role in helping students learn about the lives of practicing physicians and career options through the SAID (Student Alumni Informational Dinners) program. Alumni are paired with medical students for dinner and conversation. For those who have not participated in this program, I encourage you to do so.  It is a wonderful opportunity to provide a valuable service to medical students as well as to hear first-hand about the lives of medical students. The next SAID dinner is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, November 6 and 7.  

Alumni also help medical students through the WWAMI Student Homestay. Through this program, medical students who are based outside of Seattle and are in Seattle for clinical rotations stay in the homes of alumni. These stays are for limited periods—typically four weeks.

Please contact Annie Pontrelli, who does a superb job as director for UW Medicine Alumni Relations, if you have any questions or would like to participate in any of the above programs. 

Annual alumni awards recognize the many ways that our graduates serve the world. I would like to encourage nominations for the 2011 UW Medicine Alumni Awards. Up to four awards are given each June at the All-School celebration. The awards are:  the Alumni Early Achievement Award, the Medical Alumni Service Award, the Alumni Humanitarian Award, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Past awardees have included Roger Moe, Harry Kimball, Gerald Nepom, Jan Hirschmann, Bill Bremner and others (Distinguished Alumni Award); Jack Lein, John Vassall, Bruce Gilliland and others (Service Award); Daniel Marks, Ben Danielson, Raye Maestas and Dawn Dewitt (Early Achievement Award); Jamal K. Gwathney, Ann Kao, and others (Humanitarian Award).  I urge you to nominate individuals for one or more categories.  Nominations, due by November 1, can be made online.   

Thank you to the many UW Medicine alumni who support of our mission of improving health. Your work has a strong positive impact.


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




 Leo Pallanck receives Muscular Dystrophy Association award for mitochondria research 

Leo PallanckLeo Pallanck, UW associate professor of genome sciences, was awarded $312,699 by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) for a three-year study into the critical biological roles that mitochondria play in muscle and nerve cells.

He will examine the mitochondrial DNA mutations that cause a number of mitochondrial myopathies/encephalomyopathies – progressive disorders that result in muscle weakness and wasting, exercise intolerance, seizures and stroke-like episodes.

Pallanck got into this line of study after first looking into genes that caused inherited Parkinson’s disease.

“In the process of studying these (Parkinson) genes it became apparent that their role was to eliminate defective mitochondria,’’ Pallanck said. “No one had any idea that Parkinson played a role in mitochondrial biology when the gene was identified, but our work on Parkinson demonstrated that it directly impacts mitochondrial health. My thinking was that these genes might also be important in trying to get rid of mitochondria that are defective in other diseases, including mitochondria myopathy.

“I think our hypothesis is likely to be correct, and if so, our work will create a new way (and perhaps the best opportunity) to ultimately treat people with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy. I feel that the work we are doing, including the work that MDA has now funded, will ultimately be the most important contributions to my scientific life. So, I’m definitely excited and happy to be able to do this work.’’

Pallanck is one of 38 research leaders now receiving multi-year awards from MDA. His three-year study is part of the $14.1 million in new research funding approved during the Association’s July Board of Directors meeting. This is Pallanck’s first MDA grant.

Valerie Cwik, MDA executive vice president and research and medical director, said the research on Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases could help speed the development of treatments for neuromuscular diseases.

“Dr. Pallanck’s efforts to identify molecular factors that act to reduce the frequency of deleterious mitochondrial DNA mutations in somatic tissues are a good example of scientific crossover benefit for the families MDA serves.”

MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. For more information, visit the Muscular Dystrophy Association website.  

   Prediction model may help determine risk of critical illness following out-of-hospital emergency care

Researchers have developed a model for predicting whether patients who received out-of-hospital emergency care will have critical illness during hospitalizations.

Christopher W. Seymour, UW acting instructor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and his colleagues conducted a study to develop a tool for prediction of critical illness during out-of-hospital care in non-injured, non-cardiac arrest patients. The study was published in the August 18 issue of JAMA.

The researchers hypothesized that by using objective, out-of-hospital factors such as age, blood pressure, heart and respiratory patients for patients, they could discriminate between patients who were and were not likely to develop critical illness during hospitalization. Critical illness was defined as severe sepsis, the need for mechanical ventilation or death.

“Hospitals vary widely in quality of critical care. Consequently, the outcomes of critically ill patients may be improved by concentrating care at more experienced centers. By centralizing patients who are at greater risk of mortality in referral hospitals, regionalized care in critical illness may achieve improvements in outcome similar to trauma networks,” the authors write. “Early identification of non-trauma patients in need of critical care services in the emergency setting may improve triage decisions and facilitate regionalization of critical care.”

The study included the emergency medical services (EMS) system in greater King County (excluding metropolitan Seattle) that transports to 16 receiving facilities, and data for non-trauma, non-cardiac arrest adult patients transported to a hospital by King County EMS from 2002 through 2006. Eligible records—144,913—with complete data were linked to hospital discharge data. Sixty percent of the records were put into the development group; 40 percent into the validation group.

Critical illness occurred during hospitalization in 5 percent of the development (n = 4,835) and validation (n = 3,121) cohorts. Multivariable predictors of critical illness-- defined as severe sepsis, delivery of mechanical ventilation, or death during hospitalization-- included older age, lower systolic blood pressure, abnormal respiratory rate, lower Glasgow Coma Scale score, lower pulse oximetry (measurement of oxygenation of hemoglobin), and nursing home residence during out-of-hospital emergency care.

“We demonstrate the role that simple physiologic assessment can play in risk stratification in the pre-hospital period among non-injured patients. The model provides an important foundation for future efforts to identify patients at greatest risk of critical illness by using information from the out-of-hospital phase of emergency care,” the authors write.


Clinical Care

 UW Medicine Neighborhood Clinics receive national recognition for medical home model

Neighborhood ClinicThe UW Medicine Neighborhood Clinics have been awarded the Physician Practice Connections® Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition (PPC-PCMH™) by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

The NCQA recognition elevates the seven primary care clinics to an elite status as one of three organizations within the state of Washington to obtain the Medical Home Recognition. The Neighborhood Clinics now comprise over half of the 139 recognized providers and clinics in the state.

NCQA recognizes primary care practices that function as patient-centered medical homes. In this model each patient is at the center of his or her care and has an ongoing relationship with a personal physician. This physician leads a team that takes collective responsibility for the patient’s care.

Some of the areas PPC-PCMH measures include patient tracking and registry functions; access and communication; care management; patient self-management support; electronic prescribing; test tracking; referral tracking; performance reporting and improvement; and electronic communications.

"I see it as a simple way to demonstrate our high quality care," said Janet Piehl, the clinics' associate medical director for quality improvement. "In addition, this recognition is preferred for competing for pilot projects and grants, and will likely be required for future opportunities."

NCQA is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to assessing and reporting on the quality of managed care plans, managed behavioral healthcare organizations, preferred provider organizations, new health plans, physician organizations, credentials verification organizations, disease management programs and other health-related programs.

   UW Medical Center increases CT scanning capacity with satellite radiology unit

The Department of Radiology has opened a satellite unit with a state-of-art computed tomography (CT) scanner. Located near the UW Medical Center Emergency Department, the new scanner meets the need for increased imaging capacity to support the Emergency Department and hospital and clinic operations at the medical center.

As a diagnostic imaging tool, CT scanners are used when there are significant clinical questions that need to be answered quickly. Typical applications include tests and procedures for cardiac conditions, pulmonary embolisms, and abdominal and pelvic pain. Oncologists rely on CT scans to determine disease progression and the patient’s response to therapy.

“By increasing our imaging capacity, the satellite unit will contribute to a substantial improvement in the patient experience,” says William Shuman, UW professor and vice chair of the Department of Radiology and medical director of radiology at UWMC. “It will allow us to evaluate patients who present at the Emergency Department with abdominal pain more quickly, offer improved access to hospital and clinic patients for same day or next day scans, and in some cases shorten hospital stays.

“The benefit will also be substantial for providers, who will get definitive answers faster when they refer patients for diagnostic evaluations or specialized treatments.”



Education and Training

   Erika Goldstein appointed acting vice dean for academic affairs

Erika GoldsteinErika Goldstein, professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, will be appointed acting vice dean for academic affairs, effective Dec. 1.

Goldstein succeeds Tom Norris in the position. Norris will assume the administrative role of acting chair of the Department of Family Medicine, effective Dec. 1.

A national search for a permanent vice dean for academic affairs will begin in mid September. Bruder Stapleton, the Ford/Morgan Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, will head the search committee. 

Goldstein brings more than 25 years of direct involvement with the School of Medicine curriculum, regional programs, students and faculty. She is founding director of the School of Medicine’s Colleges program and is known for her dedication and innovation in medical education. She has been recognized numerous times with teaching awards, including the 2009 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teaching Award, one of the most prominent awards in academic medicine, from the Association of American Medical Colleges. She was awarded the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002. The award is given annually to faculty who demonstrate mastery of their subject matter, intellectual rigor and a passion for teaching. 

   Bruder Stapleton to lead American Pediatric Society 

Bruder StapletonBruder Stapleton, the Ford/Morgan Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, will become president of the American Pediatric Society, effective May 2011. He was voted president- elect of the society this spring.

Stapleton is the chief academic officer and senior vice president at Seattle Children’s.

The APS is the oldest pediatric society in the United States. The society’s members have distinguished themselves in leadership, teaching, research and contributions to the advancement of pediatrics nationally and internationally. Members have well-established careers as teachers, investigators and scholars. The APS jointly oversees the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting, along with the Society for Pediatric Research and the academic Pediatric Association.

In other news, Stapleton has also been named the 2010 Distinguished University of Kansas Medical School Alumnus. He will receive the award at an alumni reunion event in October. He received his medical degree from the University of Kansas in 1972 and did a fellowship in pediatric nephrology at the University, as well.

Stapleton is a past president of the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology and past president of the Association of Medical School Department Chairs. 

He is the founding editor of Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and editor-in chief of UpToDate in Pediatrics, an electronic educational program offered in cooperation with the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is the most commonly used pediatric care resource worldwide.

His research interests have included uric acid disorders and urinary stone disease in children. His research identified excess amounts of calcium in the urine (hypercalciuria) as a cause of blood in the urine (hematuria) of children.


Upcoming Events

The following is a listing of some upcoming events that may be of interest to the UW Medicine community. Additional events are listed on the UW Medicine events calendar. 

All WWAMI Academic Retreat for Education, Sept. 12 & 13

The 2010 All WWAMI Academic Retreat for Education (AWARE) Clinical Meeting will take place Sunday and Monday, Sept. 12 and 13, in the T-wing of the Health Sciences Building. The annual event is an opportunity for clinical department course chairs to meet with their WWAMI faculty to discuss a number of clinical and administrative topics, best practices in clinical education, and enhancement of clinical curriculum. To register for the retreat or for more information, visit the AWARE website or contact Eric Tobiason, administrative director of academic affairs, at tobiason@uw.edu or 206.685.7011.

Consortium of Universities for Global Health meeting, Sept. 19-21

"Transforming Global Health: The Interdisciplinary Power of Universities" Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 19-21, UW-Seattle campus. Internationally distinguished speakers, panel discussions, and presentations on universities’ efforts in the areas of global health training, educational technology, climate change, bioengineering, new media, diplomacy and more.  Join the largest group of global health leaders ever assembled at the UW. For more information and to register, go to www.cugh.org.

Bioethics Grand Rounds, Sept. 21

Neurological Enhancement and Moral Decision Making in Medicine by James Gordon 4 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, Turner Auditorium,  Health Sciences Building, D-209. Reception to follow. When persons without disease request enhancement of neurological function, clinicians often squirm. What is it about “enhancement” that rankles? How should clinicians respond when faced by such requests? And how might emerging technologies permitting pre-symptomatic diagnosis affect our perception of these questions. Gordon is UW clinical associate professor of neurology and chair of the Ethics Committee at Northwest Hospital and Medical Center. He is past vice-chair of Ethics Law and Humanities Committee, American Academy of Neurology. For more information, contact Bioethics & Humanities at 206.543.5145 or bhinfo@u.washington.edu or visit the department’s website.

Continuing Medical Education Classes, September - October

Update in Family Practice and Primary Care, Sept. 13-17; Comprehensive Oncology Review, Sept. 30-Oct. 2; Otolaryngology Update for Primary Care, Oct. 9; Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Oct. 15-17; Pain Management Frontline Pharmacological and Behavioral Strategies, Oct. 22-23. For more information on Continuing Medical Education classes or to register, click here.



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