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January 20, 2012

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

UW School of Medicine launches curriculum renewal initiative

Dear Colleagues:

In 1999-2002, the UW School of Medicine conducted a comprehensive, time-limited curriculum review. The review led to a number of changes, including an outstanding new program—the Colleges—that has been highly praised by our students and faculty and is emulated nationally.

Last year, I charged a committee to complete another year-long review of our medical school curriculum. The committee performed extensive research into curricula nationally and talked with hundreds of faculty, staff, students and others about our curriculum. The committee’s final report identified both strengths and challenges. While we have an excellent medical school and produce outstanding physicians for the future, the findings of this report indicate a clear mandate for change.

The committee identified several major areas for curricular improvement, including the need to enhance active learning in the preclinical curriculum and to increase integration within each year and across years. Among other areas identified for change were: increasing flexibility for students in their curricular choices and schedules, providing additional time for earlier career exploration, and expanding focus on critical thinking, information management and lifelong learning.

Due to the ongoing, rapid change in medical knowledge and a constantly shifting healthcare environment, the committee recommended that a continuous curriculum renewal process be initiated rather than a time-limited process.

Today, Ellen Cosgrove, vice dean for academic affairs, Suzanne Allen, vice dean for regional affairs, and I are very pleased to announce the launch of the UW School of Medicine curriculum renewal. I have charged a vision committee, chaired by Wylie Burke, UW professor and chair of the Department of Bioethics and Humanities, to envision a plan for our curriculum renewal. This committee will work over a short period of time, using the curriculum review committee’s final report as a foundation, to develop the organizing principles and larger theme(s) of the curriculum as we move into a continuous curriculum renewal process.

I have asked the vision committee to develop themes and organizing principles that reflect and take advantage of the unique strengths and foci of the UW School of Medicine, such as the WWAMI program, global health, UW Medicine’s commitment to patient safety and quality, translational research preeminence, interprofessional commitment and other areas that advance our mission of improving health.

The vision committee will complete its work over the next three months and make final recommendations in early May. In the meantime, a steering committee for the curriculum renewal process will be convened soon to plan and begin the ongoing work of curricular change.

Widespread involvement of faculty, staff and students is essential to the success of the curriculum renewal. Today, a website was launched that describes activities and findings to date. This site will be updated regularly with new information about activities and progress of the curriculum renewal and will provide one of several venues for providing feedback. There will also be many opportunities to participate on committees and work groups; please let Ellen Cosgrove (ellencos@uw.edu) or Suzanne Allen (suzaalle@uw.edu) know if you would like to be involved.

We have an enormous and very exciting opportunity to shape the future direction of our medical school’s curriculum. This is a chance for faculty, staff and students to work together and develop educational models that best serve our students and support our mission of improving the health of the public. While the work will not always be easy—change is never easy—it will position UW Medicine and the WWAMI Program to lead the nation in thoughtful and meaningful innovation in the best interests of patients, students, faculty, staff and our community.

Please join me in welcoming this opportunity to work together on behalf of developing the best possible medical education program.


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




Persons with dementia have higher rate of hospitalizations

Elizabeth PhelanCompared to individuals without dementia, persons who developed dementia subsequently had a significantly higher rate of hospital admissions for all causes and admissions for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions for which proactive care may have prevented hospitalizations, according to a study in the Jan. 11 issue of JAMA.

Elizabeth A. Phelan, UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, and colleagues conducted a study to determine whether dementia onset is associated with higher rates of or different reasons for hospitalization, particularly for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions (ACSCs), for which proactive outpatient care might prevent the need for a hospital stay.

The study included an analysis of hospitalizations among 3,019 participants in Adult Changes in Thought (ACT), a study of adults ages 65 years or older enrolled in an integrated healthcare system. ACT, a joint project between UW Medicine and Group Health Research Institute, investigates ways to delay or prevent dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and declines in memory and thinking. The study period was from February 1994 to December 2007.

During the study period, 494 individuals eventually developed dementia and 427 (86 percent) of these persons were admitted to a hospital at least once; 2,525 remained free of dementia and 1,478 (59 percent) of those were admitted at least once. Admissions totaled 5,328. Among those who developed dementia, there were 689 admissions prior to diagnosis and 714 after dementia diagnosis. Of ACSC admissions for this group, 121 occurred before dementia diagnosis and 198 after. Forty percent of the dementia group had at least one ACSC admission compared with 17 percent of the dementia-free group.

Among participants with dementia, the average annual admission rate was more than twice that of those without dementia. In the fully adjusted model, admission rates for five types of disorders (circulatory, genitourinary, infectious, neurological, and respiratory) were significantly higher among participants with dementia compared with those without dementia.

“Our findings that persons with dementia have higher rates of hospitalizations for most categories of medical illness and for ACSCs suggest that there may be important opportunities for improving care of demented older persons, including developing better strategies for delivering anticipatory, proactive primary care to this population. The characteristic feature of late-life dementia—cognitive impairment in the face of multiple other co-morbidities—presents a special challenge not currently addressed in models of chronic disease care,” the researchers conclude.

Read more about the study.  

David Eyre to receive Orthopaedic Research Society Steindler Award

David EyreDavid R. Eyre, UW professor of orthopedics and sports medicine, will receive the Orthopaedic Research Society(ORS) 2012 Arthur Steindler Award in recognition of his contributions to advancing the understanding of musculoskeletal systems, disease and injury.

Eyre, holder of the Ernest M. Burgess Endowed Chair for Orthopaedic Investigation, has devoted his research career to skeletal disease, specifically in the biology of collagen and genetic disorders. He will receive the Steindler Award at the ORS 2012 annual meeting Feb. 6 in San Francisco. He has also been invited to be a visiting professor at the University of Iowa following the annual meeting. The University of Iowa cosponsors the Steindler Award.

Named for Arthur Steindler, orthopedic surgeon, scientist and teacher, the award is given every other year to recognize senior scientists, clinicians and educators who, throughout their professional lifetime, have made significant contributions—nationally and internationally—to the understanding of the musculoskeletal system and musculoskeletal diseases and injuries. The award recipient must have started their professional careers outside the United States, and advanced their specialty throughout the world. The selection is made by the Board of Directors of the ORS upon recommendation of the ORS President. Eyre received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in biochemistry from the University of Leeds, England.

“Of Dr. Steindler’s many accomplishments one that strikes me as particularly fitting for Dr. Eyre is Dr. Steindler’s legendary quality of drawing people from all over the world into his creative environment,” said Jens Chapman, the Hansjoerg Wyss Professor and chair of the UW Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, in a recent statement.

“One visit to Dr. Eyre’s lab or attending one of his lab meetings would probably have made Dr. Steindler very happy—there is a tremendous amalgam of minds and thoughts abundant with people from around the world and other labs present—very cosmopolitan, very open to exchange of thoughts and ideas,” Chapman said.

Five with UW links named to Forbes "30 Under 30" list

Five accomplished young adults with ties to the UW have been included in Forbes magazine’s "30 Under 30" list, featured in the Jan. 16 issue of the magazine. From an international selection of young professionals and students, Forbes chose Daniela Witten, Jeffrey Kidd and Sarah Ng as rising stars of science and Jacob Applebaum and Sidhant Gupta among its young pioneers of technology.

UW’s 2011 Forbes "30 Under 30" honorees are:

Daniela Witten, 27, UW assistant professor of biostatistics in the UW School of Public Health, joined the UW faculty at 26. She develops artificial intelligence programs to crunch genomic data to try to decipher how genes lead to diseases like cancer. She also holds an adjunct appointment in the  Department of Statistics and is an  affiliate investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Jeffrey Kidd, 28, a recent UW genome sciences graduate student who trained with Evan Eichler, UW professor of genome sciences, and other notable UW researchers. Kidd is noted for using DNA sequencing to understand the forces that shape the evolution of primates, including apes and humans. He has been appointed assistant professor at the University of Michigan.

Sarah Ng, 27, is a UW graduate student training in genome sciences with Jay Shendure, UW associate professor of genome sciences, and others at the UW’s Northwest Genomic Sequencing Center and the new Mendelian Genomics Center. She is using advanced sequencing methods to identify the genes that cause rare diseases.

Jacob Applebaum, 28, is a staff research scientist in the UW Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He studies computer security and privacy, with an emphasis on anonymity, censorship resistance and network filtering. He is noted for uncovering security flaws in software.

Sidhant Gupta, 27, is a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering under the mentorship of Shwetak N. Patel. He is developing low-cost, easy-to-deploy sensors for conserving energy in the home.

Forbes chose the "30 Under 30" honorees from an international selection of young adults in several other categories as well, including law and policy, entertainment, music, finance, food and wine, real estate, social and mobile, and media.


Clinical Care

Quick facts about thyroid disease

Diana KaoThe following is an excerpt from an article by Diana Kao, family medicine physician at UW Neighborhood Factoria Clinic. The article was published Jan. 3 by the Journal Media Group.

For a small gland, the thyroid has a big job. Located in the front of the throat and weighing less than an ounce, it produces hormones that regulate our metabolism. These hormones affect nearly every organ and influence many vital functions, including brain development, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, weight and cholesterol levels.

With so much at stake, your health team will be on the lookout for thyroid problems as part of your regular care. In general, women and people over 50 are most at risk. Pregnancy also calls for vigilance because abnormal thyroid levels can be harmful to mother and baby.

Even with careful attention, detecting thyroid disease is challenging. It can develop without symptoms or with symptoms linked to many other conditions. The good news is that thyroid function can be checked with simple blood tests and most problems treated effectively.

Read the entire article.

Education and Training

David Park to receive American Thoracic Society Outstanding Educator Award

David ParkDavid R. Park, UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, has been selected to receive the Outstanding Educator Award from the American Thoracic Society. The award recognizes lifetime contributions in education and mentoring in the fields of pulmonary, critical care, or sleep medicine and honors excellence in clinical or research education as it relates to pulmonary disease. Park will be honored at the ATS international conference in May.

Park, who is also an adjunct associate professor of global health, attends at Harborview Medical Center and is a staff physician for the Public Health Seattle & King County TB Control Program. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the UW Medicine residency program. He was chief medical resident at Harborview and held a fellowship in his division. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Chest Physicians.

Park investigates lung infection, lung host defenses, and clinical training in his field. He is associate program director for the division’s fellowship program and directs or co-directs a number of specialized courses and training programs, in addition to lecturing and mentoring.  

Nicholas Vedder appointed to American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma

Nicholas VedderThe American College of Surgeons (ACS) Board of Regents appointed Nicholas Vedder, UW professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery, to its Committee on Trauma (COT) for a three-year term starting March 2012.

Vedder is an expert in plastic and reconstructive surgery, hand surgery, and reconstructive microsurgery. His research laboratory examines the mechanism of reperfusion injury, which occurs when blood re-enters tissue, and novel methods of controlling this process.

The mission of the COT is to develop and implement meaningful programs for trauma care in local, regional, national and international arenas. These programs must include education, professional development, standards of care, and assessment of outcomes.

Since 1922, the ACS has carried out its campaign of professional and public education designed to achieve improvements in all phases of the care of the injured and the prevention of injuries. This work is carried out on a national level through the Committee on Trauma and supported by a network of 65 state/provincial committees, 11 international committees and five military committees. These committees have an aggregate membership of approximately 2,200 members, the majority being Fellows of the College. 

Aaron Jensen receives ACS Resident Award for Exemplary Teaching

Aaron JensenAaron Jensen received the 2011 American College of Surgeons (ACS) Resident Award for Exemplary Teaching at the ACS Clinical Congress in San Francisco on October 26, 2011. This award recognizes teaching excellence and emphasizes teaching as an important area of a resident’s daily life.

Collected comments in support of Dr. Jensen’s nomination for this award:

“Dr. Jensen is one of the most self-motivated residents I have ever seen....He is and will be a clinical star and an academic star in surgical education.”

“Clinically, Aaron has superior clinical judgment, both in and out of the OR, and has a sophisticated understanding of disease and treatment options. He has outstanding critical evaluation and analytic skills at an advanced level. His organizational skills and leadership of his team are extraordinary...”

“He leads by example and is a true ‘servant-leader.’”

“He has a wonderful personality with a dry wit and a wry, pleasant sense of humor."

“Aaron is thoughtful and caring with patients and their families with a wonderful bedside manner and is an outstanding teacher to junior residents. Under Aaron’s leadership, you just know that everything will be taken care of and, if there’s a problem, you’ll know about it at the right time with all the necessary data and a synthesized plan.”

The award recipient is selected by the Committee on Resident Education, based on evidence of teaching excellence. The award carries with it a $1,500 stipend as well as an invitation to attend the Clinical Congress as a guest of the ACS.

WWAMI Regional News

Alaska Area Health Education Center takes on new initiative

The Alaska Area Health Education Center (AHEC) has teamed with the Alaska Family Medicine Residency, WWAMI and the state's Health Planning and Systems Development Office to bring the Community Apgar Program (CAP) to Alaska to identify and assess important variables in recruiting and retaining rural family physicians.

The CAP was developed through a collaboration of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, the Idaho Office of Rural Health and Boise State University. Using valid and reliable instruments and methodology, the two-year study will assess 14 of Alaska’s most rural critical access hospitals and the communities where they reside. CAP is ongoing in Idaho, Maine, North Dakota and Wyoming and will result in a comparable dataset benefiting workforce advocacy efforts at national and state levels and inform decision making at a local level.

The Alaska Center for Rural Health, Alaska’s AHEC, was created in 1987 by rural healthcare providers, educators and administrators to strengthen systems to deliver comprehensive and culturally relevant healthcare to rural Alaskans. The Alaska AHEC works in three distinct areas: encouraging Alaskans from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter health careers; coordinating clinical rotations to encourage healthcare students to seek employment in underserved areas and with underserved populations; and providing continuing education and continuing medical education to retain healthcare workers in underserved areas.

The Alaska AHEC partners with WWAMI to support the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP) — a 23-year initiative to encourage medical students to pursue careers in rural and/or underserved settings.

Ultimately, the Alaska AHEC strives to build, strengthen, and diversify the healthcare workforce. Its main goals are to: encourage more K-12 students and adults to choose a career in healthcare; expose students to targeted training in rural communities and underserved populations; and aid facilities in retaining their current staff by providing access to high-quality, evidence-based continuing education.

For more information about this program, contact Katy Branch, director, UAA / Alaska Center for Rural Health - Alaska's AHEC, at ankeb@uaa.alaska.edu or visit the center’s website.



Upcoming Events

The following are events that may be of interest to the UW Medicine community.  

Faculty Development Workshop, Jan. 24

Demystifying the Teaching Portfolio, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Jan. 24, UW South Campus Center, Room 316. The workshop will help clinician-educators develop a framework for their teaching portfolios. Participants will leave with a portfolio template and enhanced skills in composing and assembling this important part of merit documentation and faculty promotion. Presenters include Helen Emery, UW professor of pediatrics and division chief of rheumatology, Seattle Children’s; Andrew Luks, UW assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; Mark Whipple, UW associate professor of otolaryngology -- head and neck surgery; and other select members of the 2006-07 UW Teaching Scholars program cohort. The workshop is sponsored by the Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics in partnership with the Office of Faculty Development. Contact Rachael Hogan at 206.616.9875 or rhogan@u.washington.edu  for more information.

Earl P. Benditt Endowed Lectureship, Jan. 24

Andrew Dillin, professor of molecular and cell biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, Calif., will present the 2012 Benditt Lecture, 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 24, UW Genome Sciences Building, Foege Auditorium. Contact Steve Berard at sberard@u.washington.edu or 206.685.0564 for more information.

Helen and John Schilling Lecture, Jan. 27

Teaching Johnny How to Operate: Answering the ‘Bell,’ by Gerald Fried, 4 p.m., Health Sciences Building, Hogness Auditorium, A-420. Fried is professor of surgery and gastroenterology and Adair Family Chair of Surgical Education at the Montreal General Hospital. He is also the Steinberg-Bernstein Chair of Minimally Invasive Surgery and Innovation at McGill University Health Centre. The lecture will be preceded by the 18th Annual Resident and Fellow Research Day from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Museum of History and Industry. Contact Jennie Paxson at 206.543.9668 or jpaxson4@uw.edu for more information about each event.

Charles W. Bodemer Lecture, Feb. 2

The Physician Leadership We Need by Len Nichols, 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2, UW Health Sciences Buliding, T-625. Nichols, professor of health policy and director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University, will address the leadership role physicians must play in transforming health systems. A reception will follow the address. The lecture is presented by the Department of Bioethics & Humanities. Contact the department at 206.543.5145 or bhinfo@u.washington.edu for more information.

Paul Ramsey annual address to the UW Medicine community, Feb. 9

Paul G. Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, University of Washington, will give his annual address to the UW Medicine community at 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, in Hogness Auditorium at the UW Health Sciences Building. The title of the talk is UW Medicine 2012: Progress and Plans. The talk is open to all faculty, staff, students, trainees and others. A reception will follow the address in the Health Sciences Lobby. For more information, contact Julie Monteith at 206.543.7718 or jspiro@uw.edu.

UW Medicine Salutes Harborview, Feb. 25

The 20th anniversary of UW Medicine Salutes Harborview, the premier fundraising event for Harborview Medical Center, will take place at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. The net proceeds benefit Harborview’s Mission of Caring Fund, which helps Harborview serve vulnerable populations and provide world-class care to patients throughout the region. The event is presented by the Western Washington Toyota Dealers Association. Register to attend the 20th UW Medicine Salutes Harborview. Follow the event on Twitter.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.