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November 12, 2010

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

Harry Kimball receives Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education

Dear Colleagues: 

On November 6, Harry R. Kimball, former president of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), UWSOM internal medicine residency alumnus, and currently senior advisor to the dean, received the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education. This prestigious award was established in 1958 by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and honors extraordinary individual contributions to medical schools and to medical education as a whole.  The 2010 award recognizes Harry’s groundbreaking contributions in advancing the principles of professionalism as president of the ABIM and elsewhere. These principles include commitment to patient welfare, patient autonomy, and social justice. 

I had the pleasure of attending the ceremony at which Harry received the Flexner Award, sharing it with John Benson, who served as the first president of the American Board of Internal Medicine for 16 years. Of special note, they received the Flexner Award in the 100th anniversary year of the Flexner Report. These are exceptional people.  In every way, they embody the excellence, commitment and integrity that are so essential to our profession

As ABIM president after John Benson, Harry conceived and initiated the effort to create Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter, which outlines three principles and 10 commitments to which all medical professionals can and should aspire.  Endorsed by more than 200 physician organizations worldwide, the charter has become the most widely cited document on professionalism. Harry went on to create a second seminal document for residency program directors that defined the attributes of professionalism and that provided them with a rating scale. The document was so influential that satisfactory ratings became mandatory for admission to ABIM-certifying exams. The policy added the concepts of accountability, self-examination, reflection, and altruism to medicine’s professional obligations.

Harry KimballHarry’s profound influence in the professionalism movement has many sources. As Carlos Pellegrini, professor and Henry N. Harkins chair of surgery said in his letter to support Harry’s nomination, Harry was “the right person” in the “right time and right place” to advance professionalism. He embodies the characteristics of professionalism and throughout his career has displayed a wonderful, energetic desire to contribute to the greater good. He chose many ways in which to manifest this desire to contribute, including research at the National Institutes of Health, private practice in Yakima, Washington, addressing the healthcare needs of the underserved in public health, serving in academic medicine, and in his work at the ABIM. In all of these realms, his commitment to professionalism has been steadfast and enduring.

When Harry retired from the ABIM and re-joined the UWSOM as my senior advisor, he continued to search for ways to advance professionalism. He played a pivotal role in bringing professionalism to the forefront at UW Medicine and in establishing the Continuous Professionalism Improvement Committee. Under Carlos Pellegrini’s direction, the committee advances high standards and activities to promote continuous improvement of professionalism throughout UW Medicine

I extend my congratulations and thanks to Harry for his outstanding work and for the example he provides of a life devoted to improving health and lived with passion, purpose, intention, and commitment to service.   


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




  New methods detect subtleties in human genome's repetitive landscapes

Evan EichlerScientists have invented methods to scout the human genome's repetitive landscapes, where DNA sequences are highly identical and heavily duplicated. These advances, as reported in the Oct. 29 issue of Science, can identify subtle but important differences among people in the number and content of repeated DNA segments.

This, and related research on the completion of the first map of human variation from the 1000 Genomes Project reported in Nature, were heralded by news media around the world as a "new era of human genetics."

Copy number variations partly account for the normal diversity among people. Copy number variations might also be why some people, and not others, have certain disorders or disease susceptibilities, and might also determine how severely they are affected.

Until about a year ago, locating and counting the number of duplicated copies of DNA sequences was almost impossible. The more copies of a duplicated gene that are present, the harder they are to assess accurately.

"These difficulties resulted in a lack of understanding of the true extent of human copy number variation," said Evan E. Eichler, UW professor of genome sciences and senior author of the Science paper. "The most dynamic and variable genes are frequently excluded from genome-wide studies." These hard-to-study genes are also among the most interesting because of their suspected contributions to human evolution, brain development, metabolism and disease immunity.

Researchers in Eichler's lab have developed several analytical and computational techniques to overcome obstacles in looking at multicopy genes. The lead authors of the study are Peter H. Sudmant and Jacob O. Kitzman, graduate students in the UW Department of Genome Sciences.

Working with colleagues in the 1000 Genomes Project and at Agilent Technologies, the UW groups used the new techniques to deeply probe and compare the genomes of 159 individuals. In assessing the entire genomes of these individuals, the researchers were able to accurately assay previously intractable duplicated genes and gene families.

The researchers report discovering about 44 "hidden" members of duplicated gene families never before identified in the reference model of the human genome.

Read the Science article: "Diversity of Human Copy Number Variation and Multicopy Genes." 

  Prostate Cancer Survivors Breakfast funds needed research

After a five-year hiatus, the Prostate Cancer Survivors Celebration Breakfast is making a comeback at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel on Thursday, Dec. 9. The event takes place from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. at the Sheraton Seattle.

The breakfast, the foremost fundraising event in the Northwest region dedicated to raising money and awareness for prostate cancer research, has become a symbol of strength, hope and community for prostate cancer survivors and their families. Volunteer leaders have set a goal to raise $1 million for the Institute for Prostate Cancer Research (IPCR), a collaboration between UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Event chair and prostate cancer survivor Steve Fleischmann has been the driving force behind this event since its inception. He said, “Our commitment to finding a cure for prostate cancer right here in Seattle is vitally important. The money raised for this breakfast will make a huge difference in being able to continue all the necessary research.”

Mitchell H. Gold, a resident alumnus of the UW School of Medicine and the president and chief executive officer of Seattle-based Dendreon Corp., is the keynote speaker at this year’s Survivors Celebration Breakfast. Dendreon is responsible for the creation of Provenge, a new therapy to treat advanced prostate cancer. 

Gold said, “UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are pioneering some of the most innovative research in the field of prostate cancer, and the Survivors Celebration breakfast is our community's primary opportunity to foster the important work conducted by the IPCR to help men with prostate cancer live longer and better lives.”

The IPCR brings together more than 40 scientists and clinicians in multiple disciplines to understand the causes of prostate cancer and its progression, develop new prevention strategies, devise innovative diagnostics, and improve survival and quality of life.

Purchase tickets for the Prostate Cancer Survivors Breakfast or call 206.543.7873 for more information. 

  Quarterly Research Funding Report for July - September 2010

UW Medicine’s top research awards have been listed for the period of July through September 2010. The list draws from all awards, regardless of whether for a new project or an additional award installment to an existing project. The January through March 2010  and the April through June 2010 top awards are also available for viewing.



Clinical Care

   UW Medicine hospital lauded for transplant, organ donation excellence

Jorge ReyesUW Medical Center was recognized by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for superb performance in its transplant and organ donation programs. Awards were presented by HRSA officials at the sixth National Learning Congress for the donation and transplant community Nov. 3 in Grapevine, Texas.

UWMC was the only transplant hospital in the United States to earn two silver level awards for superb performance with liver and kidney transplant programs. Only 10 silver medals and one gold medal were awarded across the entire country. UWMC also received a bronze medal for its kidney/pancreas program.

"This is a great honor," said Jorge Reyes, UW professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery. "No other medical system in the nation has accomplished this level of excellence and we're proud to bring these awards home to all the patients and families we've worked with and touched through our care. I applaud all of our transplant teams, who share in this award."  Transplant team members include surgeons, residents, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, dietitians and coordinators.

The awards program recognizes high-performing transplant programs across the country. HRSA officials assess post-transplant survival rates, transplant rates and mortality rates for patients after being placed on the wait list. Medal categories include gold, silver and bronze. Transplant programs under consideration include kidney, pancreas, liver, heart and lung.

UWMC performs 90 to 110 kidney transplants per year, with 35 to 40 kidneys coming from live donors. Transplant teams also perform from 70 to 100 liver transplants each year.

    State hospitals implement flu immunization policies to protect patients

UW Medicine medical centers – Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, and Northwest Medical Center-- are among 94 hospitals in Washington state that have adopted new policies requiring health-care workers to either get immunized against the flu or take another patient-protective action.

Washington is the first state in the nation in which nearly all of its 98 hospitals have jointly adopted flu immunization policies.  The hospitals that have adopted the policies operate 99 percent of inpatient hospital beds in the state.  The policies are being implemented across the state, and will be in effect throughout the flu season.

Washington state hospitals are committed to stopping hospital-acquired infections, including influenza.  Influenza is always a serious disease, but for hospital patients – premature infants, vulnerable seniors, and people with significant health issues – getting the flu can be life-threatening.  Across the country, 200,000 people are hospitalized with seasonal influenza and as many as 50,000 people die every year.

Voluntary flu immunization campaigns have resulted in immunization rates below 50 percent for health care workers across the country.  The board of trustees of the Washington State Hospital Association urged the association to take aggressive action to dramatically increase the number of hospital staff immunized and, as a result, to stop the spread of influenza in Washington’s hospitals.  This year’s near-universal adoption of flu vaccination programs is the result.

Hospitals are working to make getting vaccinated easy, with roving flu carts, open immunization clinics on every shift, and providing vaccine free of charge.  Alternate actions that unvaccinated workers may be asked to take to protect patients include wearing a mask while working with patients, being re-assigned to non-patient care duties, or being sent home from work during an influenza outbreak. 

See a list of hospitals participating in the flu campaign



Education and Training

   American Academy of Family Physicians honors Tom Norris's lifetime contributions

Tom NorrisThe American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has selected Thomas Norris, UW School of Medicine vice dean for academic affairs, to receive its 2010 John G. Walsh Award. The award recognizes Norris’s lifetime leadership contributions to the advancement of family medicine and is one of the highest honors the AAFP bestows.

The AAFP selected Norris for the award at its annual Congress of Delegates and Scientific Assembly in Denver in September.  The award will be presented to Norris at the 2011 AAFP Scientific Assembly in Orlando in September 2011. 

 Norris, UW professor of family medicine and adjunct professor in medical education, global health, and health services, is a recognized leader in family medicine, primary care medicine, and rural healthcare. He helped establish the UW Medicine Neighborhood Clinics -- UW's network of community-based primary care clinics. He also developed rural family medicine residency programs in Montana and a rural family medicine fellowship at MultiCare Health System’s Tacoma Family Medicine, which is affiliated with the UW School of Medicine.

As vice dean, Norris is responsible for all aspects of medical student education at the UW School of Medicine. He is currently vice chair of the board of directors of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

In August, Dean Paul Ramsey named Norris acting chair of the Department of Family Medicine, effective Dec. 1, when James Davis announced he was stepping down from the position. A national search for the Department of Family Medicine chair will begin in spring 2011.

   Community Health Advancement Program celebrates 30 years of service

The Community Health Advancement Program (CHAP) celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, making it the School of Medicine’s oldest student-initiated service project.

The Department of Family Medicine created the program in 1980 to train student leaders in community engagement with real-world diverse patient populations. The program provides needed services in the community and service opportunities to students who want to work with medically underserved populations. In addition, the CHAP program gives students exposure to the family medicine specialty through their interactions with providers, faculty and projects.

Students design, plan, implement, and staff and evaluate programs with the assistance, guidance and support of partnering organizations and staff and faculty of the Department of Medicine.

In 1980, CHAP started with one project, a Saturday clinic in the former Holly Park Community Health Center. Today CHAP sponsors eight student- initiated and -directed community service projects with multiple community partners addressing the needs of medically underserved communities throughout Seattle.

During the past year, CHAP projects included pre-participation sports physical clinics at two K-8 schools, a dermatology clinic for people who are homeless, foot care and perinatal care, adolescent health mentoring, health education, and alternative high school tutoring. 

An annual gift by the Friends of the UW School of Medicine funds program expenses, except personnel. Harborview Medical Center funds medications used in the dermatology clinic. Fundraising by students and support from individual donors fund program supplies needed by each project.



WWAMI Regional News

   WRITE program to expand in Montanta 

Montana will add four new WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE) sites to the state upon final approval from the UW School of Medicine. The new sites in Butte, Dillon, Miles City, and Shelby will join existing sites in Helena, Lewistown, and Libby.  The WRITE program was developed to help meet the need for rural primary care physicians in the WWAMI region.

   Mary DesRosier and Meghan Johnston recognized for humanitarian efforts 

Montana State University friends and family gathered on Oct. 1 for the 2010 George Saari Memorial Awards presentation.

The Saari Award honors those who have made a significant humanitarian contribution to medicine and to their communities. Now in its fourth year, the award is given annually to a physician and a student who exemplify the compassion and professionalism that characterized the late Dr. George Saari, past associate director of the WWAMI medical program at MSU and a Bozeman physician, who died in 2007.

Mary DesRosierMary DesRosier (right) received the physician award. DesRosier began her medical career at the Crow Agency Indian Health Service in Montana, where she practiced from 1992 to 1995. Since 1995 she has been medical officer in family medicine for the Blackfeet Medical Service Unit, which includes Heart Butte Clinic and the Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning, Mont. She has taught students in the WWAMI program since 1996. Her first student, Taylor Dunn, is now a family physician in Juneau, Alaska. DesRosier continues to teach medical students in the Montana WWAMI Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program.

Meghan JohnstonMeghan Johnston (left), of Dillon, Mont., received the student award.  A member of the 2007 UW School of Medicine Montana WWAMI class, Johnston is on track to finish her medical degree in June 2011. She has served as president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, UW Student Chapter, and has participated in the International Health Opportunities Program, in Cusco and Iquitos, Peru, where she worked on health-care delivery and public health issues and presented community workshops on breast cancer. She also volunteers at the Casa Latina Student-Run Clinic, where she conducts histories and physical exams on patients who speak Spanish.

   Native American Center for Excellence forms new advisory board

The Native American Center for Excellence (NACOE) has formed a new advisory board to advise the Dean of the School of Medicine on American Indian/Alaskan Native programs related to health-care workforce needs. The Board will also develop linkages between the medical school and tribal communities in the region.

Members of the board are community preceptors, UW School of Medicine faculty, alumni, and resident and student representatives. The 2010 NACOE Advisory Board members are:

  • Bonnie Duran (Opelousas/Coushatta), UW associate professor of health sciences and director of the Center for Indigenous Health Research;
  • Elise Pletnikoff (Shoonaq), UW School of Medicine Alaska-WWAMI program alumna and first-year resident in family medicine at the Seattle Indian Health Board;
  • John Okemah (Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma), UW Summer Medical Dental Education Program alumnus and internal medicine physician at the Sky River Medical Group, a Valley General Hospital clinic, in Monroe, Wash.;
  • Karina Walters (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), the William P. and Ruth Gerberding Endowed Professor of Social Work and director of the UW Indigenous Wellness Research Institute;
  • Lee Anna Muzquiz (Salish-Kootenai), Montana WWAMI program alumna, family medicine physician in Montana, and member of the Montana WWAMI admissions committee for the school of medicine;
  • Kim Cunningham-Hartwig (Nez Perce), UW School of Medicine alumna and family medicine physician;
  • Scott Tyler (Makah), UW School of Medicine alumnus and family medicine physician in Bellevue, Wash.;
  • Ted Wright (Tlingit-Haida), Alaska-WWAMI program alumnus and first-year internal medicine resident in Boise, Idaho; and
  • Tom Nighswander, UW assistant dean for clinical medical education at the Alaska WWAMI program.

David Acosta, UW School of Medicine associate dean for multicultural affairs, noted that the NACOE has set a record in admitting a total of seven American Indian/Alaskan Native students to the 2010 medical school, the highest number admitted in a single year in the history of the School.



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.  

Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Seminar, Nov. 18

Transcriptional regulation of TREM2: Differentiation control of an innate immune pathway in myeloid cells, by Bruce Edward Torbett, associate professor of molecular and experimental medicine, and immunology, Scripps Research Institute. Seminar takes place from noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 18, Brotman Auditorium, South Lake Union campus, 815 Mercer Street.  The seminar is presented by the Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine and the Diabetes & Obesity Center of Excellence. For more information, contact Linda Robbins at robbinsl@uw.edu

UW Medicine & Seattle Public Library Lecture, Dec. 1

Baby boomers need to get smart when it comes to the heart by Larry Dean, UW professor of medicine and director of the UW Medicine Regional Heart Center. A failing aortic valve is at the top of the list of aging problems. Dean will talk about new cardiology interventions, including aortic valve replacement. The lecture takes place at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 1, Microsoft Auditorium, Central Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle. Contact Julie Collier at 206.685.1933 or jcollier@uw.edu for more information. Or visit the Seattle Public Library website.

2010-2011 Stem Cell Symposium, Dec. 2

Induced pluripotent stem cells, 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 2, Orin Smith Auditorium, South Lake Union campus, 815 Mercer Street. Sheng Ding, associate professor of chemistry, Scripps Research Institute, will give the keynote address, A Chemical Approach to Cellular Reprogramming. Visit the Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine's website for more information.

School of Medicine Faculty Development Workshop, Dec. 14

Team Communication, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Dec. 14, UW South Campus Center, room 303. TeamSTEPPS is a teamwork system to improve patient outcomes by improving communication and teamwork skills among health-care professionals. The nationally implemented system was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Workshop participants will learn more about TeamSTEPPS and hear a presentation by Brian Ross, UW professor of anesthesiology and executive director of the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies (ISIS). The workshop is free and open to all. Registration is required. Contact Rachael Hogan at 206.616.9875 or rhogan@u.washington.edu  for more information.

Paul Ramsey’s annual address to the UW Medicine community, Jan. 31

Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, executive vice president for medical affairs, and dean of the UW School of Medicine, will give his annual address to the UW Medicine community at 4:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 31, 2011, in Hogness Auditorium. Contact Julie Monteith at jspiro@u.washington.edu or 206.543.7718 for more information.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.  



In the News


UW Medicine magazine: concussion research and advocacy, chronic pain care and more

The Fall 2010 issue of UW Medicine magazine, the biannual magazine for alumni and friends of the UW School of Medicine, is now online. Engage in the discussion on concussion, and see how UW Medicine, including faculty members Richard G. Ellenbogen, professor and chair of the UW Department of Neurological Surgery,  and Stan Herring, clinical professor of rehabilitation medicine and director of the UW Medicine Spine Center, is changing the “warrior” culture, especially in youth sports. When does chronic pain stop being a symptom and start being a disease? Learn about the pain care revolution started by Alex Cahana, UW professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine and chief of the Division of Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine. Read contributors’ stories — and learn about the impact of their gifts on UW Medicine’s work — in the annual Report to Donors.  

Media coverage of UW Medicine    

Online News Archives  

UW Medicine website 


In the Oct. 15 issue of Online News news article about Mary-Claire King leading the American Society of Human Genetics, Dr. Stan Gartler, UW professor of genome sciences, was unintentionally omitted from the list of UW faculty members who have served as president of the ASHG. He served as president of the society in 1987.