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October 14, 2011

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

Gov. Albert D. Rosellini, steadfast friend and supporter of UW Medicine, dies

Dear Colleagues:

On Monday, Oct. 10, former Governor Albert D. Rosellini, Sr., died at the age of 101. His passing signifies the end of an era. Gov. Rosellini was a champion to many important social causes and accomplished an enormous amount in his legislative roles and beyond. I had the pleasure of knowing Gov. Rosellini for many years due to his strong interest in UW Medicine and his role in starting the UW School of Medicine. Gov. Rosellini introduced the original legislation that established the UW School of Medicine and the UW School of Dentistry.

Gov. Rosellini had a long association with the University of Washington. He completed both his bachelor's degree in political science and his law degree at the UW. He first entered the political arena in 1934, challenging a powerful Washington state senator and losing by only 80 votes. Warren Magnuson, who won the 1934 race for King County prosecutor, offered him a position as deputy prosecutor, which he accepted. After the Senate incumbent died, Gov. Rosellini again ran for the office and this time won with ease at the age of 29. He quickly became a highly respected state senate leader and served for 18 years.

In 1956, he was elected to the first of two terms as governor. As governor, he is widely remembered for many progressive accomplishments including: improvements in state prisons, mental facilities and juvenile homes; founding the Department of Commerce and Economic Development to attract business and tourists to the Northwest; and construction of roads and the SR 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington, now named in his honor.

Albert RoselliniGov. Rosellini’s role in the start of the medical school and dental school is a story worth retelling. In the 1940s, county commissioners asked Rosellini to serve on the Harborview Hospital (now Harborview Medical Center) board of trustees; he was later elected chair of the board. In this role, Rosellini met many physicians and became acutely aware of the lack of medical schools for training physicians in the five-state region of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

As majority leader in the state senate, Rosellini introduced a bill in 1945 to create a medical school and dental school at the UW. Although the bill was tabled due to its perceived expense, Rosellini re-introduced the bill at the next legislative session. He moved the bill through both houses of the legislature and to Gov. Monrad Wallgren’s desk for signature in just two months. The bill provided $3.75 million for buildings and $450,000 for salaries, establishing the School of Medicine as well as the School of Dentistry. Rosellini went on to champion the school as a legislator and later as governor, approving funds for the School’s support and expansion.

Gov. Rosellini was also responsible for the bill in 1951 that authorized the bonding of the Metropolitan Tract for hospital construction purposes. The bond, along with federal and state funds and other support, made possible the construction of University Hospital, now UW Medical Center.

Gov. Rosellini was a steadfast friend to and supporter of UW Medicine. He supported student scholarship with the Albert D. Rosellini Endowed Scholarship. This past February, he attended the Salute Harborview Gala where he was honored with the Mission of Caring Award, along with the other six living governors, for his many accomplishments and his strong support of Harborview. You can view the tribute here. It was a pleasure to talk with him at that event and to recall his profound influence on our state, hospitals, dental school and medical school.

My condolences go out to the Rosellini family for the loss of a true giant and a wonderful human being.


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




Hormonal contraception use doubles HIV risk, according to UW study in Lancet

A UW-led study published Oct. 3 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases shows a troubling link between hormonal contraception and HIV. The study received widespread press coverage because of the popularity of injectable birth control like Depo-Provera in parts of Africa hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic.

The observational study of nearly 3,800 couples in Africa finds that women using hormonal contraception -- such as a birth control pill or a shot like Depo-Provera – are at double the risk of acquiring HIV. Moreover, HIV-infected women who use hormonal contraception have twice the risk of transmitting the virus to their HIV-uninfected male partners.

Jared M. Baeten, Connie Celum and Robert W. Coombs of the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are among authors of the paper Use of Hormonal Contraceptives and Risk of HIV-1 Transmission: A Prospective Cohort Study. The report is a follow-up of heterosexual HIV-1-serodiscordant couples participating in two longitudinal studies of HIV-1 incidence in seven African countries. Celum and Baeten are, respectively, professor and associate professor of medicine and global health. Celum is director and Baeten is medical director of the UW International Clinical Research Center. Coombs is professor of medicine and laboratory medicine.

Lead study author Renee Heffron, an epidemiology doctoral student working with the UW International Clinical Research Center, said the research emphasizes the need for couples to use condoms in addition to other forms of contraception to prevent pregnancy and HIV.

"Women should be counseled about potentially increased risk of HIV acquisition and transmission with hormonal contraception, particularly injectable methods, and about the importance of dual protection with condoms to decrease HIV risk," said Heffron.

Baeten, an associate professor of global health with the International Clinical Research Center, said that to his knowledge this is the first prospective study to show increased HIV risk to male partners of HIV-infected women who use hormonal contraception.

More than 140 million women worldwide use hormonal contraception, including daily oral pills and long-acting injectables, like Depo-Provera, according to the researchers.

Read the complete story in UW Today.

Kristina Utzschneider selected for Presidential Early Career Award

Kristina UtzschneiderKristina M. Utzschneider, UW assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition, has been named a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) — the nation’s highest honor for scientists at the beginning of their independent research careers. She is among 94 people to receive the award this year, including Benjamin Kerr, UW assistant professor of biology.

Utzschneider practices at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System where she attends in the endocrine continuity clinic, consults, teaches, and directs the endocrine elective for students. She investigates the interaction between fatty liver disease and glucose metabolism and aspects of insulin metabolism. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and has received an Outstanding Reviewer Recognition Award from the Endocrine Society. She received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and was a medicine resident and fellow at the UW. She joined the UW faculty in 2005.

PECASE awardees are nominated by federal agencies and selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service. Past PECASE recipients from the UW School of Medicine include Muneesh Tewari (2009), William Grady (2005), David Cummings (2002), Marshall Horwitz (2001), David Russell (1999), and Effie Petersdorf (1998).

Read the White House release

National Kidney Foundation honors Jonathan Himmelfarb

Jonathan Himmelfarb, professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology and director of the UW Kidney Research Institute (KRI), has been selected to receive the J. Michael Lazarus Distinguished Award from the National Kidney Foundation. The award recognizes scientists whose research has yielded novel insights related to renal replacement therapy.

Himmelfarb holds the Joseph W. Eschbach Endowed Chair in Kidney Research. He joined the Division of Nephrology in 2008 when the KRI was established and previously was chief of nephrology at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. He is an internationally recognized kidney researcher and leader in policy making for the American Society of Nephrology. He has held numerous national advisory and editorial positions and has lectured around the nation and the world on aspects of renal disease.

Himmelfarb studies oxidative stress in chronic kidney disease, vascular access for dialysis, arteriovenous fistula maturation, and other topics in nephrology. He is a councilor of the American Society of Nephrology, the world’s largest nephrology organization. Himmelfarb will receive his award on May 11, 2012, during the National Kidney Foundation’s spring clinical meetings in Washington, D.C.


Clinical Care

American Academy of Family Physicians honors four with UW ties

Richard KovarThe American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recognized four UW-affiliated family medicine practitioners for outstanding patient care, philanthropy, education and leadership at its annual Scientific Assembly in Orlando Sept. 14.

Richard D. Kovar (photo, left), UW clinical professor of family medicine and medical director of Country Doctor Community Health Centers in Seattle, was named the national 2012 Family Physician of the Year by the AAFP. The award honors one outstanding American family physician who provides patients with compassionate and comprehensive care, and serves as a role model professionally and personally in his or her community, to other health professionals, and to residents and medical students. Kovar has served as a practicing family physician and medical director of Country Doctor Community Health Center for more than 20 years. CDCHC serves an urban, low-income, underserved and largely uninsured patient population.

William R. Phillips, T.J. Phillips Endowed Professor in Family Medicine and clinical professor of health services in the School of Public Health, received the 2011 AAFP Foundation Philanthropist of the Year Award in recognition of his leadership, long-term dedication and philanthropic contributions to family medicine and his community over time. Phillips has a long, distinguished record serving his community and specialty both locally and nationally.

Tom E. Norris, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, received the 2010 John G. Walsh award from the AAFP in honor of his contributions to the advancement of family medicine. This is one of AAFP's highest awards, which recognizes lifetime leadership contributions. Because of other commitments during the 2010 meeting, Norris accepted the award at the 2011 meeting.

Glen R. Stream, a family physician in Spokane and UW School of Medicine alumni, was installed as the 64th president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. As president, Stream will advocate on behalf of family physicians and patients nationwide. Stream graduated from the UW with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and received his medical degree from the School of Medicine in 1982.

The AAFP represents 100,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Are your vision problems caused by dry eyes?

The following is an excerpt from an article by Nancy Ross, published by the Journal Media Group Oct. 3. Ross is a UW teaching associate and optometrist with the UW Department of Ophthalmology. Her practice is located at the UW Medicine Eye Institute at Harborview and UW Neighborhood Clinic – Belltown.

As technology shifts, the increasing prevalence of dry eyes is not surprising. When people spend long hours in front of a computer screen, their blink rate slows down from an average of 15 to seven blinks per minute. Because a slower blink rate increases the risk for faster tear film evaporation, both daily use and long hours at a computer can create variable dry-eye symptoms. Computer users can feel their vision is “off,” which is a common concern of patients with dry eyes.

Age, gender, medical history, diet, lifestyle and environmental factors are other common triggers for dry eyes. In 2009, the National Eye Institute estimated that nearly 5 million Americans age 50 and over had severe symptoms, and many more had mild or moderate symptoms. Women are at increased risk due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy, oral contraceptives and menopause.

Read the entire article.



Education and Training

Alvin Merendino, second chair of Department of Surgery, dies

Alvin MerendinoK. Alvin Merendino, the second chair of the Department of Surgery and a pioneer in open-heart surgery and other experimental surgical procedures, died Sept. 10.

Merendino received his medical degree from Yale University in 1940. He came to the University of Washington in 1949 from the University of Minnesota, where he had completed a doctoral degree in surgery and served on the faculty. He worked under the Department of Surgery’s first chair, Henry Harkins, just two years into the department’s start. Beginning in 1950, he directed the Experimental Surgery Laboratory and remained in that position until 1972.

Merendino quickly established a reputation in cardiac surgery. Beginning in 1952, he and the residents rotating on his service performed intra-cardiac operations. In October 1956, he performed the first open-heart procedure outside of Minnesota, using a heart-lung bypass pump and bubble oxygenator. Merendino worked with Wayne Quinton, then a UW engineering student, and others to develop an oxygenation device for the procedure that worked flawlessly. (Quinton later worked with Belding Scribner to design and build the groundbreaking shunt that made possible long-term renal dialysis). The cardiac patient, a 13-year-old boy from Ellensburg, did well and went on to a full, productive life in eastern Washington.

Merendino became chair of surgery in 1964 and remained in that position until 1972. During his tenure, departmental status was given to neurological surgery, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, otolaryngology and urology.

After stepping down as chair in 1972, Merendino spent several years in Saudi Arabia—first as head of the Department of Surgery at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh and then as director of medical affairs.

In addition to his reputation as a top surgeon and administrator, Merendino was known for mentoring and training top cardiac surgeons. Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the UW School of Medicine, said that Dr. Merendino was "widely recognized as a compassionate and warm individual with a wonderful sense of humor and for sharing his knowledge and techniques with others."

Consistent with his interest in the future of surgery and in recruiting top individuals, he and his wife Shirley established an endowment fund, the K Alvin and Shirley E. Merendino Endowed Professorship.

Merendino is survived by his wife and their children and grandchildren.  

Richard Ellenbogen and Stan Herring help launch online course on sports concussions

Each year about 170,000 young athletes go to their local emergency center for a suspected sports- or recreation-related concussion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Healthcare professionals are challenged with identifying and appropriately managing children and teens who may be at risk for short- or long-term problems.

To help address this important public health problem, the CDC has launched Heads Up to Clinicians: Addressing Concussion in Sports among Kids and Teens,” a new, free online course for healthcare professionals. The course was developed by the CDC Foundation with support from the National Football League (NFL) and CDC Foundation, and in collaboration with Richard Ellenbogen, UW professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery; Stan Herring, clinical professor in the Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and Neurological Surgery; and other national experts.

Ellenbogen also heads the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee. Herring is also a member of the committee and director of the Spine, Sports and Musculoskeletal Medicine for UW Medicine. Both co-direct the Seattle Sports Concussion Program, a partnership between UW Medicine and Seattle Children's.

The course is available on the CDC  and NFL websites. 




WWAMI Regional News

WWAMI graduate medical education: helping to meet regional physician workforce needs

WWAMI Logo SmallThe United States is facing a growing physician shortage. With the exception of Washington, the WWAMI states (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) rank below the national average in the number of physicians per 100,000 population and rank the lowest nationally in the number of residents per 100,000 population.

To help meet WWAMI physician workforce needs, UW School of Medicine undergraduate medical education and graduate medical education (GME) are working to build regional programs and retain physicians to practice in WWAMI communities. Although there is no cookbook method to building the region’s physician population, the percentage of resident physicians who settle in the WWAMI states upon completion of training in those states tells the story. Alaska ranks number one in the nation with a 74 percent resident retention rate (the national average is 47 percent as reported by the American Medical Association).

Regional training models are successful if the resulting practicing physician population meets the needs of the community. Two UW programs are currently working in partnership with regional health systems to do just that. Alaska Providence Health and Services and the University of Washington pediatric residency program have developed the Alaska pediatric residency track that will start July, 2012. In each of three years of residency, residents in the pediatrics Alaska track will spend eight months of the year in Seattle and four months in Alaska. Similarly, with the goal of increasing the number of community-based psychiatrists practicing in Alaska, the University of Washington psychiatry residency program has established a fourth-year resident track emphasizing primary care integration, telepsychiatry, and rural/remote community consultation. Each psychiatry Alaska track resident will also spend one month in Alaska during his/her second or third year of residency.

In Montana, the medical communities of Missoula and Kalispell have created a second family medicine residency program to serve the western part of the state (the other program is based in Billings, Montana). Together with the University of Montana, Community Medical Center, St. Patrick Hospital, Partnership Health Center in Missoula and Kalispell Regional Medical Center, the new family medicine residency program of Western Montana in Missoula and Kalispell is anticipating its first class in July 2013.

According to Larry White, director of the Western Montana Area Health Education Center (AHEC), “Montana is 50th in the nation (lowest) in number of GME slots per capita (2 per 100,000). The Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana is vitally important to the long term health and well being of Montanans.” 

“Our goal is to create a program for 30 residents when the program is fully developed in its third year of operation," said Ned Vasquez, program director and family practitioner. "The program will be based at the community health centers in Missoula and Kalispell and all three hospitals in these communities will be involved.” 

The “residents will participate in two months of rural rotations in small communities in Western Montana and a variety of electives, including involvement in Missoula Medical Aid, an all-volunteer organization which sends teams of medical and health professionals to Honduras to improve health and access to health care.”

In addition, the medical community of Billings, Mont. is planning an independently accredited internal medicine residency targeted to start in July 2014.

In Idaho, Kootenai Medical Center plans to start a family medicine residency program with residents in 2014 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In addition, the University of Washington – Boise internal medicine residency program accepted its first class of residents this July.

Other communities throughout the five-state region are also considering starting residency programs.

All of these programs will better meet the health care needs of the broader WWAMI regional community.

For more information contact Suzanne Allen, UW School of Medicine vice dean for regional affairs, at suzaalle@uw.edu  or Lawrence Robinson, UW School of Medicine vice dean for clinical affairs and graduate medical education, at lorenzo@uw.edu.



Upcoming Events

The following is a listing of some events that may be of interest to the UW Medicine community.

Faculty Development Workshop, Oct. 21

“You Got Promoted to Associate Professor – Now What?” 8 a.m. to noon, Friday, Oct. 21, UW South Campus Center, Room 316. While this workshop is geared to mid-career faculty, all are welcome to attend. Speakers include UW School of Medicine faculty members Chris Surawicz, Robb Glenny, Deb Schwinn, Larry Robinson, Anna Wald, Grace John Stewart, Tueng T. Shen and Josh Benditt. The UW Medicine Office of Faculty Development is sponsoring the workshop. For information, contact Michelle Walter at mmwalter@uw.edu or 206.543.6232.

Nelson Fausto Symposium, Oct. 27

Nelson FaustoA celebration of the scientific legacy and clinical leadership of Nelson Fausto, UW professor and chair of the Department of Pathology, 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Hogness Auditorium, A-420 UW Health Sciences Bldg. After 17 years as chair of the department, Fausto will step down Oct. 15 and become senior advisor to Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine. The symposium will feature scientific and personal presentations from Fausto's colleagues and friends from the UW and some of the world's major health institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, Shizuoka University (Japan), the National University of Singapore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Rutgers Univesity, MD Anderson Center, and  the University of Barcelona. Paul Ramsey and Tom Montine, professor and interim chair of UW Medicine Pathology, will also present.  A reception will follow the symposium in the Health Sciences Lobby. Contact Steve Berard at sberard@u.washington.edu or 206.685.0564 for more information.

Future of Contraception Conference, Oct. 29 – 31

The Future of Contraception Initiative conference, Oct 29-31, Edgewater Hotel, 2411 Alaskan Way, Seattle. International experts will address global needs, new developments in male and female contraception, and recent research in reproductive biology.  UW Department of Medicine Chair William J. Bremner is chair of the organizing committee and local host for the conference. Register online. For more information, contact foci2011@uw.edu or call 206.543.1537.

Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium Workshop, Nov. 8

The fourth annual Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium Workshop on Genome Engineering takes place Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Seattle. The workshop is a forum on genome engineering concepts, methods, and applications under study in both consortium and non-consortium laboratories. Register online. Visit the Northwest Engineering Consortium website or contact Andre Durudas, consortium project coordinator, at 206.884.7399 or andre.durudas@seattlechildrens.org for more information.

2011 Presidential Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellows Lecture Series

Wake up to the Possibilities is a new lecture series about merging academic research with entrepreneurship. The series, which began Sept. 13, is hosted by the UW Center for Commercialization (C4C) in partnership with the Office of the President and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (Foster School). Series lecturers include: Buddy Ratner, UW professor of bioengineering and chemical engineering, giving a talk titled An Academic in Entrepreneurship Land: 10 Lessons Learned, Some from the Mad Hatter and March Hare, 10 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, Walker-Ames Room, Kane Hall, Seattle campus; and Carla Grandori, UW professor of pharmacology, giving a talk titled Cures for Cancer – Hidden in Plain Sight? An Enterprise to Accelerate their Discovery, 8 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 29, Walker-Ames Room, Kane Hall, Seattle campus. To see other lectures in the series or to register, visit the lecture series webpage.

Faculty Development Workshop, Nov. 15

Effective PowerPoint for the Medical Profession, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Nov. 15, South Campus Center, Room 316, by Hakim K. Said, UW assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Plastic Surgery.  This workshop is presented by the Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics in partnership with the Office of Faculty Development. Participants will learn effective methods for communicating clearly with PowerPoint. Workshops are free to all UW School of Medicine and Health Sciences faculty.  Enrollment in each workshop is limited and registration is required.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.