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December 17, 2010

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

Thank you and happy holidays to members of the UW Medicine community

Dear Colleagues: 

As we approach the final days of 2010, I would like to thank each of you at UW Medicine for your role in advancing our mission of improving the health of the public. Despite ongoing global fiscal uncertainty, the UW Medicine community has remained strongly dedicated to the excellence of our teaching, research and patient care activities. That level of commitment is an indication of the exceptional caliber of UW Medicine faculty, staff, students and trainees. 

Your efforts have a profound impact. We hear often from patients what a difference the many UW Medicine health-care professionals — physicians, nurses, technicians, staff, and others — make in their lives. We see and experience daily the improvements to health that UW Medicine researchers make possible. Our students and trainees provide service in the community during and after their education and selflessly contribute in countless ways.  The ethic of service and the joy of working together are key characteristics that I see throughout UW Medicine. 

It is a pleasure and a wonderful honor to be associated with the 30,000 members of the UW Medicine community. I extend to each of you my best wishes for a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season, and I look forward to our continued work together in 2011.


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




  UW Medicine and Microsoft collaborate to improve health-care delivery

Peter Tarczy-HornochBased on the successful results of a two-year technology pilot program, UW Medicine will expand its use of Microsoft Amalga Unified Intelligence System (UIS), a data aggregation platform, to support multiple clinical and research initiatives across the UW Medicine health organization.

For the past two years, UW Medicine’s Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) has been evaluating Amalga UIS as a tool to accelerate and improve translational research, which involves more quickly moving knowledge and discovery gained from the basic sciences to its application in clinical and community settings.

UW Medicine has purchased a perpetual license to use Amalga UIS to improve clinical care, quality and human subjects-approved research by providing clinical and translational researchers with faster and more complete access to electronic data stored on disparate systems across the UW Medicine health system.

UW Medicine and Microsoft Corp. also have agreed to leverage their respective expertise in medicine and software development to maximize development of technologies that improve the delivery of health care.

The collaboration is led by Peter Tarczy-Hornoch, UW professor and head of the Division of Biomedical and Health Informatics, and Sean Nolan, chief architect for the Microsoft Health Solutions Group.  

“The combination of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Biomedical Informatics Core and Amalga UIS has improved translational research by providing our researchers with access to all of the data they need when they need it, allowing them to conduct their work faster and more effectively,” Tarczy-Hornoch said. “By working together to help refine this product, both UW Medicine and Microsoft have committed to furthering the development of methods and tools that will help us unleash the enormous potential for electronic biomedical data to advance research and improve health.”

“What UW Medicine has achieved to date with Amalga in translational research and quality improvement demonstrates the power of liberating health data from separate systems and putting it into the hands of researchers and clinicians to use in multiple ways,” Nolan said.


  Mary-Claire King receives Rockefeller University's Greengard Prize

Photo of M.C. KingMary-Claire King, the American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine and Genome Sciences, has received Rockefeller University’s 2010 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize for her role as a pioneering cancer geneticist.

King, who is also an affiliate member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, shares the $100,000 prize with Janet Rowley, the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. The prize, created to recognize outstanding women scientists, was presented at a ceremony at the Rockefeller University Nov. 16.

King was the first scientist to show that breast cancer is inherited in some families as the result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1. This discovery and her subsequent research on the genetics of schizophrenia and of hearing loss have transformed the understanding of complex disease inheritance. King is also recognized as a pioneer in the development of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations. She has identified victims of human rights violations for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal and served as consultant to the Commission on the Disappearance of Persons of the Republic of Argentina.

She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. In January 2012 King will become president of the American Society of Human Genetics. 

The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize was established by Paul Greengard, the Vincent Astor Professor at Rockefeller University and head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, and his wife Ursula von Rydingsvard, in memory of Greengard’s mother who died giving birth to him. Greengard won the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

  DNA sequence variations linked to electrical signal conduction in heart

Nona SotoodehniaAn analysis of data from nearly 50,000 people has uncovered several DNA sequence variations associated with the electrical impulses that make the heart beat. The findings, reported last month in Nature Genetics, pave the way for a greater understanding of how heart problems develop.

Abnormalities in cardiac conduction, particularly in the ventricles of the heart, can be dangerous. Conduction abnormalities, when severe, require cardiac pacemaker implantation to ensure regular cardiac electrical activity throughout the heart. Abnormal ventricular conduction is also a risk factor for heart failure, sudden death, and death due to heart disease.

This study reports on several previously unsuspected regions in the genome that are associated with cardiac electrical activity.

The data for the cardiac conduction genetics study came from a consortium of 15 European and American studies, representing nearly 50,000 individuals of European descent. Genome-wide association studies examine hundreds of thousands of genetic variants in thousands of people to try to find sequence variants and genes associated with particular diseases or conditions.

Researchers were able to identify genetic associations with cardiac ventricular conduction in 22 regions of the genome. Some of the genetic variations were found in two sodium channel genes that sit side-by-side on the human genome. Sodium channels are molecular gated pores in living cells. These pores control the flow of sodium ions – electrically charged particles – to produce signals.

The lead and corresponding author of the report is Nona Sotoodehnia, UW assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology. She is a physician scientist located at Harborview Medical Center and its Cardiovascular Health Research Unit. The international research project was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.



Clinical Care

   Harborview garners grant for energy improvement initiatives

Power Works GrantOn Nov. 10, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn presented a $75,000 matching grant from Community Power Works to Harborview Medical Center’s Executive Director Eileen Whalen at a press conference. Funded by a $20 million federal stimulus grant and local matching funds, Community Power Works is a neighborhood‐based building retrofit program working to achieve deep energy savings and create green jobs.

Harborview will use the award to move forward with a number of energy improvement initiatives, which are included in our new 10-year Major Institutional Master Plan.

Current projects include the replacement of two large HVAC supply fans that bring fresh air to a number of floors in the hospital with a modern, energy-efficient fan wall. In addition to achieving energy savings, this new fan configuration will meet the need for Harborview to have redundancy ventilation solutions as a Level I trauma hospital.

The mayor's press conference was hosted by Harborview. Matching grant awards were also presented to Virginia Mason, Group Health and Swedish Medical Center.



Education and Training

   Medical school pre-curriculum review group seeks input on curricular priorities for future 

Suzanne AllenIn September, Paul Ramsey, dean of the UW School of Medicine, charged a small group of UW educators and medical students to perform a preliminary review of the UW School of Medicine curriculum in advance of a comprehensive curriculum review to begin in mid-to-late 2011. Suzanne Allen (left), clinical professor of family medicine and vice dean for regional affairs, and Michael Ryan, associate professor of medicine and recently named associate dean for curriculum, chair the committee. 

The group is charged with: 1) identifying, discussing and evaluating broad curricular strengths and areas for improvement; 2) considering approaches to increasing class size in order to meet regional workforce needs; and 3) engaging broadly with faculty, staff, students, residents, and others to assess their perspectives and suggestions concerning the School’s curricular strengths, areas for improvement, and possible expansion approaches, including development of four-year WWAMI campuses. Ramsey asked the committee to provide him with its findings, including a rationale, a set of guiding principles, and a proposed approach for the subsequent curriculum review, in spring 2011.

This pre-curriculum review process follows the successful re-accreditation of the medical school by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) in spring 2010. The medical school underwent its re-accreditation self-study process and site visit during the 2009-2010 academic year, and received the maximum eight-year accreditation. The materials collected as part of the self-study and the findings by the LCME provide foundational materials for the advisory committee to use in evaluating approaches to the curriculum review process.

In its four meetings to date, the committee has: 1) undertaken a review of the current curriculum, including courses, clerkships, special programs, and the curricular governance structure; 2) discussed successes and opportunities in curricular integration; and 3) preliminarily explored the concepts of WWAMI regional first- and second-year sites as a possible expansion model. A second committee is being launched to specifically address regional expansion models and to consider possible pilots that can be initiated in the next several years. A charge for the second committee is being developed and the two committees are expected to interact regularly.

The pre-curriculum review advisory committee is now starting a series of conversations and discussions with educators, students, and others to elicit their perspectives on the curriculum, and ideas and suggestions for modifications. Group members anticipate meeting with the four curriculum committees, educators, students, residents, alumni and other individuals and groups. The first discussion was held on December 14 at a retreat with clerkship directors, regional faculty, and College faculty.

The committee is interested in hearing from educators, students, and other interested individuals and groups. If you would like to talk with committee members or submit written ideas and concerns about and/or suggestions for the direction of the medical school curriculum, please email precurr@uw.edu or call Kellie Engle at 206.543.2249. In addition, dates for open forums with educators in Seattle and at the WWAMI regional sites will be announced in Online News early in 2011. 

The comprehensive curriculum review that will follow the pre-review process will start in mid-to-late 2011 when a new vice dean for academic affairs is in place. Currently, a national search is being conducted to fill that position. In December, Tom Norris, former vice dean for academic affairs, became acting chair of the Department of Family Medicine. Erika Goldstein, professor of medicine and director of the Colleges, is serving as acting vice dean for academic affairs until a permanent vice dean is in place. Bruder Stapleton, professor and chair of pediatrics, chairs the vice dean for academic affairs search committee.

In addition to Allen and Ryan, members of the pre-curriculum advisory committee are: David Acosta, associate dean for multicultural affairs; Daniel Benedetti, fourth-year medical student; Courtney Boulton, fourth-year medical student; Jan Carline, professor of medical education and biomedical informatics; Kellie Engle, director of operations in regional affairs; Yogesh Khanal, fourth-year medical student; Dennis Kirby, fourth-year medical student; Andy Luks, assistant professor of medicine; Raye Maestas, associate professor of family medicine; Kate Mulligan, senior lecturer of biological structure; Ken Roberts, assistant dean and director, WWAMI Medical Education, WSU-Spokane; Lorna Shanks, fourth-year medical student;  Roger Tatum, assistant professor of surgery; Marjorie Wenrich, chief of staff, UW Medicine; and Mark Whipple, associate professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery.

Committee members are available and eager to talk with individuals and groups to elicit feedback, ideas, concerns, and suggestions concerning the curriculum and the curriculum review process, which will start in mid-to-late 2011.

   School of Medicine announces new holders of several faculty positions

J. Fine

The School of Medicine recently announced the appointment of several new holders of eleven endowed faculty positions and one term professorship. They are:

Raimondo D’Ambrosio, UW associate professor of neurological surgery, first holder of the Roy and Maxine Johnson Endowed Professorship in Epilepsy.

James S. Fine (right), UW professor and chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and chief information officer for the School of Medicine, first holder of the Paul E. Strandjord and Kathleen J. Clayson Endowed Chair.

John M. Inadomi, UW professor of medicine and head of the Division of Gastroenterology, new holder of the Cyrus E. Rubin Endowed Chair in Medicine.

Michael C. Jensen, UW professor of pediatrics, first holder of the Janet and Jim Sinegal Endowed Chair in Pediatrics Solid Tumor Research in Honor of Korey Rose at Seattle Children’s.

Jeffrey A. Ledbetter, UW research professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology and affiliate associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, first holder of the Herndon and Esther Maury Endowed Professorship in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

N. MokadamNahush A. Mokadam (left), UW assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, third holder of the Lester and Connie LeRoss Endowed Professorship in Cardiovascular Surgery.

Brant K. Oelschlager, UW professor of surgery, first holder of the Byers Endowed Professorship in Esophageal Research.

Mark R. Opp, UW professor and vice chair of basic research in the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, first holder of the UW Medicine Research and Education Endowed Chair in Anesthesiology.

William R. Phillips, UW clinical professor of family medicine, second holder of the Theodore J. Phillips Endowed Professorship in Family Medicine.

Michael H. Schwartz, UW professor of medicine in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition and director of the Diabetes and Obesity Center of Excellence, second holder of the Robert H. Williams Chair in Medicine.

W. StoneWendy L. Stone (right), UW professor of psychology and director of the UW Autism Center, first holder of the Richard and Susan Fade Endowed Chair for the UW Autism Center.

Avery H. Weiss, UW professor of ophthalmology and chief of the Division of Ophthalmology at Seattle Children’s, first holder of the Dr. Roger H. Johnson and Angie Karalis Johnson Term Professorship in Pediatric Ophthalmology.

For more information about these appointments, please contact UW Medicine Advancement at 206.543.5686.


WWAMI Regional News

   Spokane to enhance Careers in Medicine program

Medical student career advising begins on the first day of medical school and continues through the residency match.  “Understanding Yourself,” a program developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Careers in Medicine introduces students to a four-step career planning process in year one of medical school. The WWAMI program at WSU-Spokane has taken this one step further. Following in the footsteps of WSU-Pullman and University of Idaho, under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Turner, WWAMI at WSU-Spokane has developed a career advising program for first-year and third- and fourth-year medical students.

The twenty Spokane first-year students are divided into four groups or “houses” – similar to the UW School of Medicine Colleges system. Each group has one of four advisors:  John McCarthy, assistant dean for regional affairs, WWAMI Clinical Medical Education, Central and Eastern Washington; Deb Harper, assistant dean for regional affairs, WWAMI Clinical Medical Education, Central and Eastern Washington; Matt Layton, program director, UW Psychiatry Residency Program, Spokane Track; and George Novan, WWAMI Spokane associate director and course chair for clinical medicine, preceptorship, and grand rounds. The advisors introduce each first-year student to the AAMC Careers in Medicine "Understanding Yourself" program early in the school year. Then, in early December, with the help of senior medical students, the first year students walk through the decision points they will make at the UW School of Medicine in the coming months and years.

With more than half of medical students spending their first year outside of Seattle, and with the growth of regional third and fourth year clerkship rotations in the region, it is important to bring career advising to the students in the region.

"Although the formal career advising from the faculty is greatly appreciated, our students value their interaction with senior students even more highly," Harper says.

A Career Decision Making program will be provided for third- and fourth-year students who are in Spokane later this winter. WRITE (WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience) students from Central and Eastern Washington will also be invited to participate in this program. 



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.  

School of Medicine Faculty Development Workshop, Jan. 11

Using Interactive Technologies to Engage Your Learners, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Jan. 11, UW South Campus Center, room 316R. This hands-on workshop will explore three technologies that medical educators can use to provide learning experiences that reduce the need for in-person interaction. Participants will learn how to develop an interactive web site using Catalyst tools, create an enhanced podcast, conduct live online meetings using Adobe Connect, and identify which approach is most appropriate for various learning contexts. Presenters are Mahesh Thapa, Dept. of Radiology, Seattle Children’s; Michael Campion and Jason Reep, Academic and Learning Technologies, Academic Affairs; and Jake Kulstad, UW Information Technology. Workshop is free and open to all UW School of Medicine and Health Sciences faculty members. Registration is required. Contact Rachael Hogan at 206.616.9875 or rhogan@u.washington.edu for more information.

Molecular Medicine Training Program Public Lecture, Jan. 11

The Coming Revolution in Medicine: From Reactive to Proactive Medicine by Leroy Hood, president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 11, Kane Hall, room 220. The institute pioneers systems approaches to biology and medicine. Hood was also founder and chair of the Department of Molecular Biotechnology at the UW. Contact Christina Szabo at 206.616.5045 or visit the Molecular Medicine website for more information.

Paul Ramsey’s annual address, 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. A reception will follow the address in the Health Sciences Lobby. 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

Fall UW Medicine magazine is now available online

The fall 2010 issue of UW Medicine magazine, the biannual magazine for alumni and friends of the UW School of Medicine, is now online.

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