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December 3, 2010

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

The work of "Inventors of the Year" has worldwide impact

Dear Colleagues: 

Jonathan Swift said, “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought.” From a somewhat different perspective, Robert Thurston, the first president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, said, “Great inventions are never, and great discoveries are seldom, the work of any one mind. Every great invention is really an aggregation of minor inventions, or the final step of a progression. It is not usually a creation, but a growth, as truly so as is the growth of the trees in the forest.”

Since 2004, we have annually celebrated our UW Medicine “Inventors of the Year” and “Emerging Investigators” in a special reception. The awards recognize the translation of research from the bench, with industry partnerships, to products or processes with major impacts on health. Both quotes above apply to this award. Our inventors and emerging investigators are truly creative, set new directions and build new pathways to health. At the same time, each depends on predecessors for direction, on collaborators for insight, and on industry to turn ideas and research findings into products. Their inventions first and foremost result in health improvements. They also have strong economic impact and frequently lead to important cost-savings in health care.

Since 2004, nine individuals have received the Inventor of the Year Award. In 2004, Ben Hall was the first recipient of the UW Medicine Inventor of the Year Award. He was recognized for his basic research on yeast transcription that led to the genetic engineering of the Hepatitis B vaccine. Ben’s work impacted the lives of more than one billion people who have received the vaccine. In 2005, Earl Davie received the award for developing a blood clotting protein. His work led to the creation of safer clotting factors for people with hemophilia. In 2006, David Auth was honored for multiple inventions, including a rotoblator system to clear arterial plaque. 

In 2007, Philip Green was Inventor of the Year for developing Phred, Phrap, and Consed-Autofinish. Phil’s work formed the foundation for the success of the Human Genome Project and subsequent genomic studies. In 2008, Irwin Bernstein received the award for his discovery of a protein, CD33, found on the surface of most acute myeloid leukemia cells, and the translation of this discovery into the development of the drug Mylotarg—the first FDA-approved antibody-targeted chemotherapeutic agent.  In 2009, Bruce Montgomery, Bonnie Ramsey and Arnold Smith were honored for developing and disseminating aerosolized tobramycin to treat potentially fatal pulmonary infections in people with cystic fibrosis. 

Photo of Roy MartinThis year, Roy Martin was honored for many inventions. He first developed a method to diagnose cardiac output, then created a method to detect air emboli during neurosurgery. He later developed a probe that could be passed through an endoscope channel to detect blood flow prior to making an incision and to examine the gastrointestinal wall structure for diagnosis. He was a key leader and collaborator in development of multiple other inventions, including: a device for studying esophageal motility; an approach to 3D ultrasound cardiac imaging; high intensity ultrasound to detect and treat internal bleeding; and the Sonicare toothbrush, a device that has had a major positive impact on oral health care. His scientific output and contributions are exceptional. 

The Emerging Investigators, since 2008, are Babak Parviz, Tuen Shen, and most recently, Yoky Matsuoka. Drs. Parviz and Shen were honored for development of an active contact lens to communicate information about the health of the eye and the patient. Dr. Matsuoka was honored this year for development of a hand exoskeleton to restore the ability of patients with upper spinal cord injuries to pinch, point and grasp. She also developed a robotic manipulator to improve hand movement rehabilitation for stroke victims. 

All of these individuals are remarkable—for their innovation, their drive and desire to move research findings to the next step, and their collaborative scientific ethic that builds on prior successes. Their work has benefitted the lives of more than one billion people around the world. 

I would like to thank the many organizations, including our founding sponsor, Frazier Healthcare Ventures, that have worked with UW Medicine to sponsor the Inventor of the Year Award. I am especially grateful to Alan Frazier and Fred Silverstein who provided the initial guidance and support for this award that celebrates the inventors’ role in improving the health of the public.  


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




  Obama taps Muneesh Tewari for Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Muneesh TewariMuneesh Tewari, UW assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology, is among 85 people selected by President Obama to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the nation’s highest honor for scientists at the beginning of their independent research careers.

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

Tewari is an assistant member in the Human Biology Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Last year, Tewari was one of 42 recipients nationwide of National Institutes of Health Transformative R01 grants. He received a five-year $3.4 million award to investigate the function of microRNAs, a class of RNA molecules involved in gene regulation. Tweari also holds an Innovative Research Grant from Stand Up To Cancer, funding from Damon Runyan Cancer Research Foundation, a Creativity Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and other research support.

He received his medical and doctoral degrees in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Michigan and was an oncology fellow at Harvard University before coming to Fred Hutchinson in 2005 and joining the Department of Medicine faculty in 2008.

Past UW PECASE recipients include William Grady (2005), David Cummings (2002), Marshall Horwitz (2001), David Russell (2000), and Effie Petersdorf (1998). 

  Mary-Claire King honored with the Double Helix Medal

Photo of M.C. KingMary-Claire King, the American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine and Genome Sciences, was honored in New York last month by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory which presented her with a Double Helix Medal. The medal recognizes exceptional individuals who have dedicated their lives to raising awareness of the importance of genetic research for improving human health. In January, King will become president-elect of the American Society of Human Genetics. 

King was the first to prove that breast cancer is inherited in some families, as the result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1. In addition to inherited breast and ovarian cancers, her research interests include genetics of hearing loss, the genetic bases of schizophrenia, genetics of systemic lupus erythematosus, and human genetic diversity and evolution. She also pioneered the use of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations. She developed an approach to sequencing mitochondrial DNA preserved in human remains, then applied this method identify kidnapped children in Argentina and subsequently to cases of human rights violations on six continents.

King’s numerous honors include the Clowes Award in Basic Research from the American Association for Cancer Research, the Genetics Award from the Gruber Foundation, the Weizmann Award for Women and Science, the Heineken Prize for Medicine from the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor for Clinical Research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Award for Basic Science, and the University of California Medal.

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.



Clinical Care

   UW Medicine health system tackles, reduces infection rates

Handwashing PosterAll three medical centers in the UW Medicine health system ––Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center and UW Medical Center—have reported significant improvements in infection control efforts.

Harborview and UW Medical Center were recognized in October 2010 by the Washington State Hospital Association for outstanding hand hygiene practices, earning “Best Hands on Care” awards. Harborview was also recently lauded by Qualis Health with a “Safe in Our Hands” award that recognized the medical center’s hand hygiene improvement initiative. (Katy Folk-Way, UW employee and  UW Medical Center volunteer, appears on poster to increase awareness about hand hygiene: We all keep patients safe. Please clean your hands, the poster reads.)

Harborview Medical Center has achieved a 50 percent decrease in the number of patients with hospital-acquired MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) and ventilator-associated pneumonia between 2007 and 2009. That drop occurred despite having a patient population that is uniquely prone to such infections.

Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center and UWMC have implemented “secret shopper” programs to observe hand hygiene practices and, subsequently, provide a report to each patient care unit and department about how they fared. Observations have expanded to include sanitation practices assessment and use of infection precautions. 

Northwest Hospital has had three central line-associated infections in the intensive care unit over the last four and one-half years, a figure that ranks well when compared with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s average benchmark for similar units. The infection rate is low following implementation of several infection control procedures outlined by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

“Our effort to prevent infections in the hospital also includes targeted testing to identify organisms that patients bring into the hospital that may affect their care and cause complications,” said Gregory Schroedl, vice president, medical and chief quality officer at Northwest Hospital. “Screening select patients for dangerous organisms—which is conducted across the UW Medicine health system—helps provide better care and reduces the chance of spreading infection to others.”

UWMC set a goal more than one year ago to reduce health care-associated infections by 50 percent. The medical center recently reported a 46 percent reduction in central line infections, a few percentage points short of reaching its goal. Hand hygiene efforts, audited by observations, are near-perfect at UWMC. The compliance rate for 1,009 observations of nurses, medical and health assistants in June 2010 was 100 percent. Overall compliance for 1,866 observations was 99 percent.

One big coordinated step UW Medicine has taken to wipe out central line infections is implementing a standardized education and training program for placement of central line catheters. If their training is not complete, physicians are not allowed to perform the procedure. Central line infection prevention helps reduce a patient’s length of stay in an intensive care unit (ICU), ICU mortality and overall hospital mortality. 

    Anthony Back receives American Cancer Society's Palliative Care Award

Anthony BackAnthony Back, UW professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology, has received the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Pathfinder in Palliative Care Award for his “tireless personal passion for promoting palliative care and patient quality of life.”

The award was presented to Back at the society’s annual meeting in Atlanta last month.

Back is director of Palliative Care and the Program on Cancer Communication at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and developer of the OncoTalk program to improve patient-physician communication. Back treats patients with colorectal, liver, pancreatic and stomach cancer. He is an adjunct professor of bioethics and humanities and an affiliate member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

In a statement, the ACS said, “Dr. Back has been a strong advocate for the development of palliative care in the United States for more than a decade. He has made significant contributions to advance palliative care, including his groundbreaking work creating collaborations of clinicians, teachers, and researchers committed to effective and compassionate communication with patients and their families. His remarkable work has helped make communication skills a core component of oncology practice.”



Education and Training

   Michael Ryan named associate dean for curriculum

Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan, UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology, has been named associate dean for curriculum for the UW School of Medicine. He began his transition to the position on Dec. 1 and is scheduled to fully begin his new duties in April 2011.

Ryan, section head of the Division of Nephrology at Harborview Medical Center, is an award-winning medical educator. His teaching awards include Teacher Superior in Perpetuity (2006), Distinguished Teaching Award – Basic Sciences (2003 – 2006), Golden Apple Teaching Award (2003), Aagaard Outstanding Teaching Award (2002), and Providence Medical Center Outstanding Teacher Award in 1995. He was also named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine in 2006 and 2010.

As associate dean for curriculum, Ryan will oversee the medical school curriculum, which includes the campus in Seattle as well as sites throughout the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) region.

“It is really an honor to be offered this position,” Ryan said. “I have always had a passion for medical education, and the chance to work with the curriculum at such a top notch institution is an exciting opportunity.”  Ryan will continue his nephrology practice at Harborview.

Ryan received his medical degree from the University of Michigan and completed a medicine residency and nephrology fellowship at the University of Washington.

Ryan succeeds Susan Marshall, UW professor of pediatrics. Marshall served as assistant dean for curriculum from 1998 to 2004 and as associate dean from 2004 to 2010. Marshall will return full time to her faculty appointment in the Department of Pediatrics, with administrative and educational responsibilities in the pediatric residency program. She will also return to her pulmonology practice at Seattle Children’s.

   UW Medicine mourns the death of Roger E. Moe, creator of multidisciplinary breast cancer treatment model

Roger MoeRoger E. Moe, UW professor emeritus of surgery and recipient of the 2010 UW Distinguished Alumni award, quietly passed away Nov. 26 in the company of his family. He was 80.

Moe taught and mentored generations of UW School of Medicine fellows, residents and students in the laboratory, in the operating room, and at the bedside. His was also a prolific researcher and clinician.

Moe created the model for the Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic at UW Medical Center. The clinic opened in 1994, comprising surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. The UW clinic expanded and flourished. Moe’s vision of multidisciplinary care changed the way breast cancer patients were treated not only at UW Medicine and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, but also at other hospitals in our region and across the country.  To honor this legacy, the Roger E. Moe Fellowship in Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Care was established at the UW School of Medicine in 2004.

Moe received his undergraduate degrees in psychology and chemistry from the UW in 1952 and completed his medical training at the UW in 1959.

Dr. Moe is survived by his wife Emily, son Dr. Kris Moe, and grandchildren Madeleine and Roger Rainier Moe.

His Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Dec. 6, at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, and everyone is welcom to attend.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to: UW Medicine Advancement, Attn: Olena Nyzhnykevych, Box 358045, Seattle, WA 98109.

   Alexander Fefer,  immunotherapy pioneer, dies 

Alexander FeferAlexander Fefer, 72, a retired UW professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology  and a founding member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, died on Oct. 3.

At the time of his death, Fefer was in Washington, D.C. to receive a Team Science Award as leader of the Fred Hutchinson /UW Cancer Immunotherapy Team from the International Society for the Biological Therapy of Cancer. The award was "for significant and sustained contributions to the field of cancer immunotherapy and biological therapy over the past 25 years."

Fefer was a member of the pioneering Seattle bone marrow transplant team that developed transplantation as a therapy for leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. He was appointed professor in the UW School of Medicine in 1976.

A memorial service was held Oct. 6 at Temple Beth Am in Seattle.

Dr. Fefer is survived by his wife Thea and his sons, Mark and Avram. The family suggests that memorials be sent to the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, J5-200, P.O. Box 19024, Seattle, WA 98109.

   Thomas Montine appointed interim chair for the Department of Pathology  

Thomas Montine, the Alvord Professor of Neuropathology, has been appointed interim chair of the UW Department of Pathology, effective Dec. 1. Montine will lead the department while Dr. Nelson Fausto is on leave.



WWAMI Regional News

   WWAMI adds emergency medicine clerkship site in Casper, Wyoming

Dr. JR RealingAs a faculty preceptor in the WWAMI program for the required third-year emergency medicine clerkship, J.R. Realing (left in photo) says it is not his role to convince medical students to follow his path into emergency medicine. He simply wants these physicians of the future to have the opportunity to practice their skills in a community hospital.

Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) is a private, not-for-profit hospital in Casper, located in the middle of Wyoming.  It serves the entire state as a regional trauma and referral center. The hospital operates the state’s only air ambulance program with Wyoming Life Flight. The WMC team of physicians and highly qualified staff treat more than 35,000 patients a year, including 700 traumas.

While it may be hours and hundreds of miles from the nearest academic teaching facility, WMC offers more than 50 specialties. As a result, medical students have unique, individualized experiences. 

“Medicine drastically changes between an academic teaching hospital and one like ours.  We don’t have the resources at our fingertips that an academic facility has. It affects everything we do – our referral patterns, our consult patterns,” says Realing. 

Another advantage to completing a clerkship at a smaller hospital like Wyoming Medical Center is that residents and students have a greater opportunity to see a wide variety of cases.  

Realing applauds the UW for requiring medical students to complete a four-week clerkship in emergency medicine. He says the UW School of Medicine is ahead of the game by making it a required experience.

“When you look at some of the smaller, rural hospitals in our state alone, many of them are staffed by family physicians.  There simply aren’t enough board-certified emergency medicine physicians to go around,” says Realing. “By making this a requirement in students’ training, they are getting experience in working in an emergency department and helping them to be better prepared.”

Even if these young doctors decide that emergency medicine is not their specialty of choice, Realing says every physician should have, at a minimum, the skills in management and stabilization of an emergent patient. 

Realing has been a staff physician in the Emergency Department at Wyoming Medical Center since 2007.  He completed an emergency medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  Realing obtained his medical degree from the University of Utah and is a graduate of the University of Wyoming.




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.  

Prostate Cancer Survivors Celebration Breakfast, Dec. 9  

Prostate Cancer Survivors Celebration Breakfast, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 9 p.m., Sheraton Seattle. The breakfast, the foremost fundraising event in the Northwest region, is dedicated to raising money and awareness for the Institute for Prostate Cancer Research, a collaborative of UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  For more information or to purchase tickets, call 206.543.7873.

School of Medicine Faculty Development Workshop, Dec. 14

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

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

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

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.  



In the News

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 at www.uwmedmagazine.org .

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