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November 21, 2014

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Message from Paul Ramsey

UW School of Medicine leads the way in graduate medical education

Dear Colleagues:

Graduate medical education (GME) leadership is changing at the UW School of Medicine. On June 15, Byron Joyner, professor of urology, assumed the role of vice dean for GME after the departure of Larry Robinson for a new leadership position in Toronto.

Prior to becoming vice dean, Joyner served as associate dean for GME for nearly five years. During that time, he was instrumental in creating educational programs to support program directors in their roles as teachers and leaders. He founded and continues to sponsor the UW Network for Under-represented Residents and Fellows (NURF), a group of trainees interested in reducing health disparities and in recruiting and advancing retention of minority trainees and medical students, as well as the Housestaff Quality and Safety Counsel, which works to engage trainees in quality and safety throughout our hospitals.

Byron Joyner
Byron Joyner

Jennifer Best, associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, will succeed Joyner as associate dean for GME in January 2015. Best completed the UW Teaching Scholars program in 2009 and has been the recipient of several teaching awards. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and Society of Hospital Medicine. She serves as associate program director for resident professional development and well-being for the UW Medicine Internal Medicine Residency Program and is deputy editor of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Her clinical and scholarly interests include vulnerable populations, care transitions, systems education, the GME training environment and narrative medicine.

As associate dean, Best will work closely with program directors, administrators and residents to advance our educational programs and initiatives. She will lead the Program Director Development Series and will work with Susan Johnston, director of GME education, to develop and promote GME Research Day, as well as the Chief Resident and Life After Residency seminars. She will also work with Simona Lazar, e-learning director, on online training modules for residents and fellows.

Amity Neumeister continues her outstanding work as assistant dean for GME, with responsibility for accreditation oversight and operations of the sponsoring institution.

Jennifer Best
Jennifer Best

Our GME leadership is changing but the goals remain the same: to guide, motivate and enlighten the next generation of physicians.

While we have many excellent residency and fellowship training programs in Seattle and throughout the WWAMI region, the number of GME programs and positions is insufficient to meet the region’s health needs. Expanding GME in the region, especially in specialties that will best serve rural populations, is a vital need. We are exploring ways to expand regional GME through a number of mechanisms, including a federal proposal for new GME funding.

I would like to thank Byron Joyner, Amity Neumeister and the GME team for their wonderful work in creating a superb learning environment for our residents. Please join me in welcoming Jennifer Best to her new role and in supporting the GME team as it continues to develop our GME programs and prepare trainees to be independent practitioners for our region and beyond.


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



Ferret genome holds clues to respiratory diseases

Ferrets have long been considered the best animal model for studying a number of human diseases, particularly influenza. (Wikimedia).

In what is likely to be a major step forward in the study of influenza, cystic fibrosis and other human diseases, an international research effort has sequenced the ferret genome. The sequence was then used to analyze how flu and cystic fibrosis affect respiratory tissues at the cellular level.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of the National Institutes of Health, funded the project, which was coordinated by Michael Katze and Xinxia Peng at the University of Washington in Seattle and Federica Di Palma and Jessica Alfoldi at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

“The sequencing of the ferret genome is a big deal,” said Michael Katze, UW professor of microbiology, who led the research effort. “Every time you sequence a genome, it allows you to answer a wide range of questions you couldn’t before. Having the genome changes a field forever.”

Ferrets have long been considered the best animal model for studying a number of human diseases, particularly influenza, because the strains that infect humans also infect ferrets, These infections spread from ferret to ferret much as they do from human to human. For more on the story, see HSNewsBeat.

Clinical Care

UW physician Shevin Jacob deployed to West Africa for Ebola outbreak in three countries

Shevin Jacob training health care workers in Liberia. (BBNews)
Shevin Jacob

Shevin Jacob, a UW acting assistant professor of allergy and infectious diseases, is on his fourth deployment this year consulting with the World Health Organization on containing the Ebola outbreak. He was first deployed to Guinea-Conakry in early April, where everyone dreaded  implications of Ebola for the first time spreading in a major city where crowding, poor hygiene and an already dysfunctional health system existed. Jacob said at the time he thought the region would be Ebola free by the end of June 2014.

In August, he returned to Sierra Leone on the border with Guinea and stepped into a world of chaos. He said the number of health workers who had been exposed, infected and died from Ebola were continuing to increase and the Sierra Leonean nurses were shell shocked and didn't want to re-enter the place that took so many colleagues. One of the country's heroes, Dr. Humarr Khan, had succumbed to Ebola a week earlier and 12 other healthcare workers in the same hospital had died from the disease. But Jacob said the patient load kept increasing to a point where there were 90-100 patients in the hospital ward. Jacob said with the help of a British nurse name Will Pooley and three courageous Sierra Leonean nurses, they cobbled together a team of eight and put in grueling days, sometimes five hours in personal protective equipment (most stay no longer than 1-2 hours). Despite the heartbreak and disorder, he said there was "incredible hope and humanity in that ward" with surviving patients helping to care for the sickest patients. He said seeing patients come back from the brink of death were huge motivators for the team. He said aggressive fluid resuscitation before the initial period of the gastrointestinal phase of the illness began had huge success. "Those wins were enough to keep us going and continue to be indelibly imprinted in my head," he said.

After Sierra Leone, Jacob spent seven weeks in Liberia training health care workers on how to work safely in Ebola treatment units (ETU).
He was part of a team that opened a new ETU Oct. 31 at the former Ministry of Defense compound in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. Now he's back in Sierra Leone focused on building the capacity of health care workers to safely care for patients in an ETU. 

Jacob was to give a UW Grand Rounds lecture Nov. 13 on his experience but his stay was extended in Sierra Leone so instead he wrote a letter to colleagues from the Monrovia airport detailing his experience. He writes:  “I sit here waiting for a UN flight to Freetown where I have been asked by the WHO to help manage an Ebola treatment unit, which has been opened prematurely in the midst of an upswing in cases in Sierra Leone’s capital city… I still look forward to the day when we can celebrate something here in the West African countries which have had their health system decimated by this outbreak. In the meantime, I am here to focus on the present so that the loss of the lives of our colleagues and patients has not been in vain.”

For a short video (1:36) on his work in Liberia, click here.

UW Medical Center, Valley Medical Center join roster of Ebola-prepared hospitals

Harborview simulation training. (Claire McLean)
Harborview Simulation

Two additional UW Medicine hospitals have joined Harborview Medical Center in adopting infection-control protocols necessary to care for prospective Ebola patients. UW Medical Center and Valley Medical Center are among several facilities statewide that will use guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify, isolate, evaluate and treat patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus disease, the Washington Department of Health announced last week. For more on the story and a slideshow of Harborview Medical Center conducting a Ebola patient simulation, see HS NewsBeat.


UW brings science to life at Pacific Science Center

UW Genome Sciences at Life Sciences Research Weekend. (Reitha Weeks)
UW Genome Sciences

The University of Washington joined Benaroya Research Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Genetics and 20 other local institutions and companies to showcase some of their current research through hands-on activities as part of Pacific Science Center’s eighth annual Life Sciences Research Weekend Nov. 7- 9. The weekend is part of Pacific Science Center’s Portal to the Public Initiative, bringing scientists and public audiences together in face-to-face interactions to promote an appreciation and understanding of current scientific research taking place in the community.

Genome Sciences, for example, wanted to get visitors interested in learning about DNA and what the genome is and how information manifests itself in the phenotypic traits that make us both similar and unique and how scientists study these traits, especially in model organisms. Students had a poster about the genome and DNA and then visitors could go to their table and see a model of DNA and some vials containing DNA and participate in one of four activities. There was the genome matching game, a game in which visitors match images of different organisms, including flu, e.coli, yeast, humans, dogs, wheat and the marbled lungfish with their corresponding genome size. They had an exhibit to challenge visitors to think about how so much information can fit (twice) into each of their cells. They also had bracelet making, which involved colored beads for one of four Mendelian genetic traits (loose/attached earlobes, hitchhiker's thumb, widow's peak and tongue-rolling ability). They also had several vials of flies and several plants demonstrating popular eye-color phenotypes and different Arabidopsis thaliana plant mutants. Visitors could learn about genetic discoveries made using these model organisms and find out how these organisms are used in the laboratory today.
Several other UW groups took part:

  • UW Biochemistry: Computer Science and Engineering and Center for Game Science
  • UW Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering Society
  • UW Chemistry: David Ginger Lab
  • Pathology
  • UW Medicine, South Lake Union Group (SLUGS)
  • UW Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute (MolES) and Washington Nanofabrication Facility (WNF)
  • UW Neurobiology & Behavior Community Outreach
  • UW School of Nursing

WWAMI Regional News

Third-year WWAMI medical students present to the Alaska Association of Student Government

Medical student panel included Michelle Ju, Seattle; Aaron Freeman, Wyoming; Kramer Wahlberg, Spokane; and Danielle McQuinn, Montana.
WWAMI student panel

The Alaska WWAMI program participated in the Alaska Association of Student Government 2014 fall conference Oct. 31 in Wasilla, Alaska. High school students had an opportunity to speak with third-year WWAMI medical students during a question-and-answer panel session organized by WRITE (WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience) student Michelle Ju. Assistant Clinical Dean for Alaska Tom Nighswander was the keynote speaker.

More than 200 members from high school student councils around Alaska attended the conference.


Alaska WWAMI and the village of Tyonek explore possible partnership

On the Tyonke airstrip: Leo Morales, Tom Nighswander, community elder Tonya Bismark and Jane Shelby.
On the Tyonek airstrip

In September, Leo Morales, UW director of the Center for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Tom Nighswander, assistant clinical dean for Alaska; and Jane Shelby, assistant first year dean, visited the Dena’ina village of Tyonek to explore the possibility of an American Indian/Alaska Native four-year longitudinal training track for selected medical students. This partnership would be done with the Tyonek community, the Alaska Native Medical Center and the South Central Foundation (SCF), an organization that supports community health services in the region.

In Tyonek, the UW group met with tribal leaders, a community health representative and other village members to discuss potential first steps with the leadership of the South Central Foundation in Anchorage. They also visited the new village clinic.

Many of the components of the potential training track, which uses the clinical resources and experiences of the South Central Foundation, Alaska Native Medical Center and Tyonek, are already in place. The new clinical curriculum would place a significant emphasis on cross-cultural understanding and communication. The South Central Foundation and the Alaska Native Medical Center could provide the training with help from field clinics staffed by SCF physicians and a medical student.

With a population of 171, the village of Tyonek is on the shores of the Shilikoff Straight and only reachable by air travel.



Stanley Fields

Stanley Fields
Stanley Fields

Stanley Fields, UW professor of genome sciences and medicine, has been elected to the Genetics Society of America's Board of Directors as the society's next president. He will begin his tenure as vice president on Jan. 1, 2015, serve as president in 2016, and then as past president until Dec. 31, 2017.

"Genetics has entered a phenomenal period when new information and technology is revolutionizing our understanding of biology and disease," said Fields, an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "I look forward to working with GSA members and our partners over the next few years during this exciting time."

His research focuses on the development and implementation of new technologies, work that includes the origination of the yeast two-hybrid assay. Much of his lab's research has centered on methods of protein analysis, although other efforts have gone into DNA and RNA methodologies and yeast genome engineering. A recent emphasis has been on deep mutational scanning, that allows the function of hundreds of thousands of variants of a protein to be quantitatively assessed in a single experiment. For more information about this appointment, see the GSA site.



Department of Psychiatry faculty receive several awards

Paul Phillips receives $25k for work on substance abuse and the brain and nervous system

Paul Phillips 

The Society for Neuroscience presented Paul Phillips, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, with the prestigious Jacob P. Waletzky Award. Established in 2003, the $25,000 award is given to a scientist who has conducted research or plans to conduct research in the area of substance abuse and the brain and nervous system.

The prize was presented at Neuroscience 2014, The Society for Neurosciences, annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. For more on the award, see the press release.

Jesse Fann awarded for work around traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury

Jesse Fann
Jesse Fan

The Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine Research Award honors an individual currently studying psychopathology in the medically ill and is intended to recognize exceptional research and clinical work in the field. Jesse R. Fann, a UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and is an expert in treating psychological and behavioral problems following traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury accepted the award at the Academy’s fall scientific meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Fann’s research award lecture described the evolution of research into the epidemiology, assessment, patient preferences, treatment and health service delivery of persons with depression following traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury and made the case for future research directions and greater involvement of psychosomatic medicine in both cases.

Jürgen Unützer receives American Psychiatric Association’s Senior Scholar Award

Jürgen Unützer

Jürgen Unützer, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, received the American Psychiatric Association’s Health Services Research Senior Scholar Award. Unützer accepted the award and presented a lecture at the Institute on Psychiatric Services meeting in San Francisco in October titled "Collaborative Care: Making a Difference in the Age of Accountable Care." The Senior Scholar Award provides $1,000 and recognizes singular or sustained research accomplishments by a researcher beyond early career status, which have made important contributions to the field of mental health health services research. In addition, Unützer accepted an invitation to serve a three-year term on the National Advisory Council for the Center for Mental Health Services, a branch of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Joseph Cerimele awarded for treating bipolar disorder in primary care

Joseph Cerimele
Cerimele Joseph

Joseph Cerimele, UW acting assistant professor of psychiatry, received the American Psychiatric Association’s Early Career Health Services Research Award at the Institute on Psychiatric Services meeting in San Francisco in October for his work on how to treat bipolar disorder in a primary care setting.

Behavioral Health Integration Program recognized for integrated mental health care model

UW Medicine’s Behavioral Health Integration Program (BHIP) received a Certificate of Special Achievement in recognition of its innovation and quality from the American Psychiatric Association’s Psychiatric Services Achievement Awards. BHIP is in place at all nine of UW Medicine’s Neighborhood Clinics as well as at Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center. The program provides mental health care for chronic conditions like depression and anxiety at the clinics by using Collaborative Care, an integrated care model developed at the University of Washington.


Upcoming Events 

65th Annual Strauss Lecture, Nov. 21

Marco Patti, University of Chicago professor of surgery and director of the Center for Esophageal Diseases at the Pritzker School of Medicine, will present the 2014 Strauss Lecture, entitled “From the Odyssey to Present Times: The Role of Mentoring in the Academic World.” The lecture will begin at 4 p.m. in Hogness Auditorium in the Health Sciences Building. A reception will follow. For more information, see the event flyer.

The Kronmal Symposium: Lessons Learned from Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Nov. 24

This symposium celebrates UW biostatics professor Richard Kronmal's 50-year career in cardiovascular epidemiology research. The focus of the symposium is the design, analysis and high-impact results from prospective cohort studies in cardiovascular epidemiology. There will be several broad thematic areas that highlight contemporary issues of relevance to translating the findings from these cohort studies to improving public health, including biomarkers, subclinical heart disease/imaging, neurology/stroke, the genetics of cardiovascular disease (CVD), statistical methods for CVD, and future directions in CVD epidemiology. With a full slate of invited speakers, all of whom are leaders in the field of cardiovascular epidemiology, the symposium will be an opportunity for students and early stage investigators to network with these highly experienced researchers.
The symposium will take place in the UW Tower Auditorium at 4333 Brooklyn Avenue N.E. Registration is free, but an RSVP is required. In conjunction with the symposium, there will also be a reception and dinner, which costs $65 per attendee. For more information and to register, visit the symposium website.

Special Whole U event featuring two of our own (Register by Nov. 26)

The first ever UW faculty and staff talent showcase is being held on Friday, Dec. 12 at the Meany Theater and two of the many talented acts are from UW Medicine — Stacey Bush who serves as assistant to the chief financial officer and Eleanor Stallcop-Horrox from patient financial services. Bush will be showcasing her sword fighting talents and Stallcop-Horrox her singing voice. The Ovations Performance Showcase is a Whole U event hosted by UW President Michael Young and Mrs. Marti Young. The event is free and friends and family are welcome.The Whole U has offered VIP seating if UW Medicine staff and faculty register before Nov. 26. Register here and enter MEDICINE in the “Other” box under “How did you hear about this event?”
If you have questions about the event, you can find more information about Ovations on The Whole U website or email them at wholeu@uw.edu

Medical team volunteers needed for Seattle Marathon, Nov. 30

2014 Seattle Marathon
Seattle Marathon 2014

UW Medicine has opportunities for medical and administrative volunteers at the Seattle Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 30. Led by Mark Harrast, A UW Medicine sports medicine physician and Seattle Marathon medical director, our medical teams will manage seven stations along the course and two at the finish line.
More than 10,000 runners are expected to participate in the marathon and half-marathon races during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Volunteers can sign up for all-day, morning or afternoon shifts. A medical team orientation will take place Tuesday, Nov. 25, in the evening. Medical team members include physicians, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, medical assistants and techs, as well as students in these fields and administrative staff. They will be well equipped to handle both routine and complex medical ailments common to endurance events. These include strains and sprains, muscle cramps, blisters and abrasions, hypothermia, heat stroke, and exercise-associated collapse, including from cardiac and metabolic disorders. 
If you are interested, please complete the Seattle Marathon Medical Team Volunteer RegistrationFor more information, contact Mia Coleman at miac@uw.edu.

5th Annual Maternal Health Lecture Series in honor of Beth Peterman, Dec. 8

Julia Bunting, global director of Programme and Technical Division for International Planned Parenthood, will be speaking on "Lifecyles A Perspective on reproductive and maternal health,” at 5 p.m. Monday Dec. 8 in the Magnuson Health Sciences Center, Room T-435. The lecture is sponsored by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, University of Washington Global Center for Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents, and Children (Global WACh) and the Washington Global Health Alliance Discovery Series. For more on the event and background on Peterman, please see the event flyer.

Save the Date:

Paul Ramsey’s annual address, Feb. 12

Paul Ramsey, CEO, UW Medicine, executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, will review progress at UW Medicine over the past year and cover challenges and opportunities for the upcoming year. The address will be held from 4-5 p.m., Feb. 12 in Hogness Auditorium, Health Sciences Bldg.


Nominations accepted through Jan. 15 for Distinguished Alumni Awards

Every year, the UW Medicine Alumni Association recognizes exceptional alumni with a series of awards for professional achievement and community service. UW Medicine alumni, faculty, staff and other professionals are encouraged to nominate colleagues who received a degree from, or completed residency or fellowship training in, a program administered by the UW School of Medicine or one of its academic departments. The association will accept nominations for the 2015 awards through Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. If you have questions, please visit www.uwmedalumni.org/awards or contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 206.685.1875 or medalum@uw.edu.

Rising Stars career development program application deadline Feb. 2

Rising Stars is a faculty career-development program that provides promising early-stage investigators from the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) region with a high-quality, targeted and structured career development package for two years. The package includes components such as research funding up to $15,000, mentoring, peer-to-peer networking and review services. For more information about applying, see the Institute for Translational Health Services site.


Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.


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