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November 7, 2014

Table of contents

Message from Paul Ramsey

UW Medicine steps up big for heart disease

Dear Colleagues:

UW Medicine came out in force for the 2014 Puget Sound Heart Walk last month. The 1,338 participants from UW Medicine raised $192,801.50 for the American Heart Association, making UW Medicine the top fundraiser at this year’s walk. We also set a record for the number of walkers - a tribute to our focus on wellness.

Among the UW Medicine entities, Northwest Hospital had the most walkers (489) and UW Medical Center raised the most money of any entity ($49,690). Harborview Medical Center raised $31,000 and Valley Medical Center - going to humorous lengths to encourage donations - raised $34,000.

If you haven’t seen the Achy Breaky Heart standoff between Valley CEO Rich Roodman and Associate Medical Director Jamie Park, please watch the 3-minute video.

Roodman and Park are coached by Occupational Health Clinical Coordinator Stacey Thomas, a former Sea Gal and coach of the Seattle Storm Dance Team.
Roodman and Park
The Heart Walk addresses a disease with a major adverse health impact. While the percentage of deaths due to heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases has fallen by nearly one-third since 1999, cardiovascular disease is still the leading killer in the United States according to the American Heart Association. Every day, more than 2,000 Americans die of cardiovascular disease.

Among other troubling trends, data from the Global Burden of Disease study, coordinated by UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, show that almost 78 million adults have high blood pressure — the biggest global risk factor for cardiovascular disease; 32 million adults have high cholesterol, another precursor to cardiovascular disease; and diabetes is on the rise (20 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes), which often leads to heart disease. Meanwhile, heart failure is responsible for more physician visits and hospitalizations than all cancers combined.

UW Medicine’s purple power at the Puget Sound Heart Walk Oct. 11. For more photos, view the album on UW Medicine’s Facebook page.
UW Medicine Purple Power

I would like to express my personal appreciation to all the members of the UW Medicine community who participated in the 2014 Heart Walk. Your participation shows strong support for UW Medicine’s mission of improving the health of the public. The American Heart Association also thanks you.

"UW Medicine’s participation means the world to us but more importantly, it allows the American Heart Association to continue to provide lifesaving research grants in our own community," said Cheryl Dale, executive director, American Heart Association - Puget Sound Division.

Currently the American Heart Association is funding $5.78 million in active research grants in the state of Washington; $5.3 million is funded at the University of Washington.


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



Mouse model suggests varied genetic dispositions to Ebola

UW microbiologists Angela Rasmussen and Michael Katze led the mouse-model study.
Katz and Rasmussen

A newly developed mouse model suggests that genetic factors are behind the mild-to-deadly range of reactions to the Ebola virus. People exposed to Ebola vary in how the virus affects them. Some completely resist the disease, while others suffer moderate to severe illness and recover. People who are most susceptible succumb to bleeding, organ failure and shock.

In the Oct. 30 edition of Science, scientists describe strains of laboratory mice bred to test the role of an individual’s genetic makeup in the course of the Ebola disease. Systems biologists and virologists Angela Rasmussen and Michael Katze from the Katze Laboratory at the UW Department of Microbiology led the study, collaborating with the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The research was conducted in a highly secure, state-of-the-art bio containment safety level 4 laboratory in Hamilton, Mont. For more on the story and a video, see HS NewsBeat. Also coverage in New York Times and Washington Post, 

This mammogram saves lives and money

In a study published in the journal Radiology, researchers led by Christoph Lee, UW assistant professor in radiology/breast imaging, found that for women with dense breasts, who often need repeat mammograms, adding on 3D screening -- called tomosynthesis -- to a traditional digital mammogram actually costs less in the long run. For more on the story, see article in TIME Magazine.

UW Medicine Magazine cover

UW Medicine magazine: reversing blindness, 3D organs and more

The newest edition of UW Medicine magazine explores the UW Medicine Eye Institute’s exciting work in reversing blindness, as well as the myriad and inspiring ways that our contributors are changing the world of medicine, from protein design to scholarships. The magazine also focuses on work in the five-state WWAMI region: two alumni who serve the community in Othello, Wash., and another, born in Richland, Wash., who is taking on the challenges and rewards of a new family medicine residency. You can also learn more about our students’ lives, hear about the UW grad and Paralympian who is skiing to win, and watch a video on the epidemiologist-mayor of Cali, Colombia, who is using big data to combat violence. Find all this and more at www.uwmedmagazine.org.


Clinical Care

UW Medicine named 2014 Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality

HRC Logo

Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital and Medical Center, UW Medical Center and Valley Medical Center have been named “Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality” and are included in the Human Rights Campaign 2014 Healthcare Equality Index.

The Healthcare Equality Index is a unique annual survey that encourages equal care for LGBT Americans, and recognizes healthcare institutions doing the best work. To be included, a hospital must earn top marks in meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrate its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients, and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing the quality health care and respect they deserve.

“UW Medicine is committed to providing equal, high quality and affordable care to members of the LGBT community in our hospitals and clinics,” said Johnese Spisso, chief health system officer for UW Medicine and vice president for medical affairs for the University of Washington. “Our leadership and staff are invested in educating ourselves about issues that are important to patients and their families, listening to feedback and experiences from members of the LGBT community in how we can continue to improve and creating work and care environments that make everyone feel safe and welcome,” Spisso said.

UW Medicine hospitals were among a select group of 426 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded this title meet key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members. For more information, see the Human Rights Campaign site.


"A little bit bigger fish:" A digital story on physician assistant John Betz

John Betz
John Betz

In 1967, John Betz was recruited to train as a physician assistant, a new category of healthcare professional between doctor and nurse. The University of Washington created a pilot project, "MEDEX," to bolster the region's ranks of clinicians. Along with 12 other former military medics and corpsmen, Betz became a pioneer in the physician assistant profession, now 100,000 strong. He was assigned to a small clinic in Othello, Wash., where he practiced for 44 years until his retirement in 2014.

Betz has witnessed over the course of his career the birth and evolution of physician assistants from a pilot program into the solid mid-level profession presently in widespread use across the U.S. medical system. He has contributed significantly to the growth of the physician assistant ranks, having precepted no fewer than 76 PA students right there in Othello. Beloved by patients and students alike, he was essentially recreating himself for future generations. To know John Betz is to understand the history and importance of PAs in this country. The story, told with digital multimedia, describes the MEDEX program's origins and Betz's experience.

UW's No. 14 global ranking includes high marks for health sciences

U.S. News & World Report's "Best Global Universities" recent list ranks the University of Washington at No. 14 overall. Because of the focus on research, UW is one of the top universities in the country — among private and public. Global rankings for UW health sciences areas are as follows:

#3 Microbiology
#5 Immunology
#7 Pharmacology and Toxicology
#8 Social Sciences and Public Health
#8 Clinical Medicine
#9 Molecular Biology and Genetics
#13 Environment/Ecology
#14 Biology and Biochemistry
#22 Neuroscience and Behavior
#33 Psychiatry/Psychology

For more on the rankings and methodology, see the U.S. News & World Report website and the story in the Seattle P-I.


WWAMI Regional News

Wyoming WWAMI Class of 2014 and the TRUST Program

Students, staff, new faculty participate in ropes course in Wyoming.

Twenty new students received stethoscopes and were welcomed into the Wyoming WWAMI Class of 2014 in late July at the Wyoming WWAMI White-Coat Ceremony. The students, staff, administrators and new faculty participated in an all-day ropes course, which emphasized team building, group cohesion and leadership on the final day of orientation.

Wyoming WWAMI joined the TRUST program (Targeted Rural and Underserved Track) this academic year. TRUST seeks to provide a continuous connection between underserved communities, medical education and health professionals in the WWAMI region. The goal is to create a full-circle pipeline by guiding qualified students through a special curriculum that connects underserved communities in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho to the UW School of Medicine and its network of affiliated residency programs in an effort to help meet the workforce needs of the region.

The addition of TRUST in Wyoming has also brought a class in rural healthcare delivery to the Wyoming WWAMI campus with 17 students participating in the class this fall. The highlight of the class will be a trip to Wheatland, Wyo., to spend the day visiting a typical rural Wyoming community hospital and clinic.



A celebration of the career and achievements of George Ojemann

Dr. George Ojemann

George Ojemann, professor emeritus in neurological surgery, was honored Sept. 26 in an all-day celebration held by the UW Department of Neurological Surgery. Speakers from several UW departments, the Allen Brain Sciences Institute and national and international universities (including representatives from England and Germany) gave both scientific presentations and appreciative overviews of Ojemann’s contributions to neuroscience.

Ojemann, who completed his neurological surgery residency at the UW, joined the faculty in 1966 as a neurological surgeon and researcher specializing in epilepsy. He retired from clinical practice in 2005 but has continued his research and teaching activities. His superb care of individuals with epilepsy and brain tumors, coupled with pioneering clinical research on cortical mapping and language localization, has affected countless lives globally. He has been an influential leader at the national level including service on NIH Council and neurological surgery’s national accrediting and education boards. And through his publications and teaching, he has dramatically influenced innovation in neurosurgical care and neuroscience research.

In June, Ojemann was honored with the UW School of Medicine’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions in the fields of neurological surgery and the neurosciences. He has enhanced science, patient care and the educations of generations of UW medical students and residents.

Frederick Rivara

Dr. Frederick Rivara holds a bicycle helmet during a TEDx talk.

Frederick Rivara, UW professor of pediatrics and adjunct professor of epidemiology, has been named to serve on the Advisory Council to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Rivara’s contributions to the field of injury control have spanned 30 years. He served as founding director of the Harborview Injury and Research Center in Seattle for 13 years and was founding president of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention.

Rivara has devoted his career to studying childhood injury and injury prevention, conducting seminal research on the effectiveness of bicycle helmets and developed programs to promote helmet use that have been copied and implemented around the world. These programs have led to a significant reduction in the number of children sustaining bicycle-related traumatic brain injury and death. His current research is on the long-term disability after traumatic brain injury in children, interventions to reduce the prevalence of PTSD after traumatic injury in adolescents, and the genetic factors associated with poor recovery from trauma. Read more about the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.



UW Medical School alumnus receives 2014 Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award

Dr. Richard Layton
Credit: Ron Wurzer 
Richard Layton

Richard Layton, a UW School of Medicine  alumnus from the Class of 1954, was selected as the 2014 recipient of the UW Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award. This award is given to a living University of Washington alumnus veteran who has made a positive impact on the local, national or international community, the University of Washington or the veterans’ community.

In 1946, Layton was a second-class petty officer in the Navy headed to the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands on a top-secret mission: To chart the effects of atomic bomb blasts on naval ships at sea. Layton was only 12 miles from two nuclear blasts. Days later he boarded the ships to assess the damage. Exposed to great amounts of radiation, he is a living miracle at the age of 87.

Layton was in the fifth class of the UW School of Medicine and went on to practice rural medicine in Grandview, Wash., for almost 20 years. Layton was also a pioneer physician in the WWAMI and physician-assistant programs, each dedicated to providing communities with better access to medical care. For 20 years at Providence Hospital in Seattle (later Swedish), he directed a family-practice residencyprogram that focused on serving the inner-city population. Throughout his medical career, untold numbers of families have benefited from his compassionate care.

The award will be presented at a ceremony on Veterans Day at the Medal of Honor Memorial on Memorial Way in Seattle. After the ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m., attendees are invited to gather for a reception in the Walker Ames Room in Kane Hall. Read more about the Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award and see a list of previous recipients on the UW site.

UW researchers win American Heart Association Collaborative Sciences Award

Researchers are looking at basic mechanism that underlie heart disease.

William N. Zagotta, UW professor of physiology and biophysics, and Stefan Stoll, UW assistant professor of chemistry, have received an American Heart Association Collaborative Sciences Award. The award totals $750,000 and allows two primary investigators from disparate disciplines, with histories of innovative collaborations, to work on a project that is achievable only with efforts from both disciplines. It is one of just four awards in this category across the nation for 2014-17.

The collaboration between Zagotta and Stoll is aimed at understanding the basic mechanics that underlie heart disease, particularly the electrical activity of the heart produced by proteins called ion channels. The focus is on the pacemaker ion channels that control the rate of the heartbeat. The two researchers will employ a new technique to determine the nanostructure of these ion channels. For more information about the award, see the American Heart Association site.


Upcoming Events 

Inside Admissions at the UW School of Medicine, Nov. 17

Aspiring medical students are invited to join Carol Teitz, associate dean for admissions in the UW School of Medicine, for a reception and information session about the medical school’s admissions process. The reception and information session will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the William H. Foege Building Auditorium. For more details on the event, please contact Rebecca Skoog at rrskoog@uw.edu or 206-543-8428.

Brain-Computer Interfaces: Building the Bionic Man, Nov. 19

This team-taught and interdisciplinary series will address advances in neuroscience which are allowing unprecedented access to the workings of the brain. The series is presented in partnership with the UW Alumni Association and the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of Washington. For more information, see the website.

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 4:00 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.

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.


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.


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 4:00-5:00 p.m., Feb. 12 in Hogness Auditorium, Health Sciences Bldg.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.


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