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January 10, 2014

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

UW Medicine opens maternal fetal medicine clinic at Yakima Memorial Hospital

Dear Colleagues:

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital (YVMH) and UW Medicine have had an outstanding collaboration for many years in patient care and for the past six years in resident training. On July 1, 2013 that partnership became even stronger when UW Medical Center opened the UW Medicine Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) Clinic onsite at YVMH.

Yakima Memorial is a state-of-the-art 225-bed, not-for-profit, community-based hospital that serves a large rural area and about 130,000 patients annually. Located about 90 minutes from Seattle, the new freestanding clinic on the YVMH campus expands UW Medicine’s presence for maternal and fetal medicine and obstetrics services in Central Washington.

UW Medicine has provided maternal fetal medicine consult services at YVMH for over 18 years, including physician coverage and services by YVMH licensed genetic counselors. More recently, UW Medicine and Yakima have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of patients seeking appointments for issues related to maternal fetal medicine.

With the opening of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic, UW Medicine is helping to meet this need for patient care for fetal medicine and further expands services in Yakima. Working together, YVMH and UW Medicine will improve health outcomes for Central Washington’s pregnant mothers and their children.

At the new site, UW Medicine’s maternal-fetal medicine specialists consult on complex medical conditions of mothers such as diabetes, hypertension and diseases of the heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system. They also consult and provide prenatal screening and diagnosis of suspected fetal anomalies and genetic conditions.

Edith Cheng is the clinic medical director and Julia Lehnert is the UWMC nurse manager. In addition to a large team of UW physicians who see patients at the clinic, on-site clinic staff include a clinic nurse manager, licensed genetic counselors, ultrasonographers, and front desk support. The UW Medicine work group led by Teresa Spellman Gamble collaborated with Russ Myers, the new CEO at YVMH, and his senior leadership team for over a year to bring this new clinic to fruition.

Yakima Memorial has also been a site for training our obstetrics-gynecology residents since 2007. It offers an excellent community experience in which R2s and R3s rotate for four weeks with a group of community physicians who are dedicated to the education of our residents. The rotation consistently receives among the highest number of excellent resident ratings.

I would like to thank our partners at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital for superb patient care and for outstanding collaboration. The new UW Medicine Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic builds further on this partnership with the goal of improving health for people throughout 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



Psychiatry’s Jeremy J. Clark receives Presidential Early Career Award

Jeremy Clark
Jeremy Clark

Jeremy J. Clark, UW assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is among this year’s recipients of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, one of the highest honors bestowed on science and engineering researchers beginning their careers.

The award honors and supports “extraordinary achievements of the finest scientists and engineers, who, while early in their research careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge,” according to a statement issued by the National Institutes of Health.

Clark was recognized for his studies on the neurobiology of motivated behavior. He conducts such research to explore important public health concerns. His Presidential Early Career Award will support his investigations of the neural mechanisms of risk preference following adolescent alcohol use.

People often have their first experiences drinking alcohol as teenagers, and some do so during binges. Clark’s research project summary notes that these episodes can sometimes be the start of problem drinking, and have been associated with impaired decision-making. He also noted that studies in animal models of teen drinking suggest that alcohol exposure during this time of life can produce long-term difficulties in assessing risk when making choices.

“Adolescence is a critical period of maturation,” Clark wrote, “where brain development may be disrupted by alcohol use.” Clark plans to test several hypotheses on how teenage drinking might influence risk preference. Specifically, he added, chronic alcohol exposure during adolescence might alter the mesolimbic dopamine system, which has been linked to reward processing.

“An early age of onset of alcohol use appears to be linked to a vulnerability to drug abuse problems in adulthood,” Clark said. “We would like to understand how exposure in the teen years might lead to chronic alcoholism in adults.”

Clark earned a Ph.D. in psychology in 2006 from the UW, and the next year took a position as a postdoctoral fellow with Paul Phillips in the UW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Now on the UW medical school faculty, he is part of the Center for Drug Addiction Research.

He is the 11th faculty member at UW Medicine to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers since the program started.

Read more in the Puget Sound Business Journal or UW Today.

Genetically identical bacteria can behave in radically different ways

Samuel Miller
Samuel Miller

Although a population of bacteria may be genetically identical, individual bacteria within that population can act in radically different ways, according to a University of Washington study published recently.

As these bacterial cells divide, chemotaxis machinery (bright blue and red) localize in one daughter cell.

This phenomenon is crucial in the bacteria’s struggle for survival. The more diversity a population of bacteria has, the more likely it will contain individuals able to take advantage of a new opportunity or overcome a new threat, including the threat posed by an antibiotic.

In the study, researchers at the University of Washington showed that when a bacterial cell divides into two daughter cells there can be an uneven distribution of cellular organelles. The resulting cells can behave differently from each other, depending on which parts they received in the split.

“This is another way that cells within a population can diversify. Here we’ve shown it in a bacterium, but it probably is true for all cells, including human cells,” said Samuel Miller, UW professor of microbiology, genome sciences, and medicine and the paper’s senior author.

Bridget Kulasekara, who obtained a Ph.D in the UW Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, was the paper’s lead author. Other contributors included: Hemantha Kulasekara, Matthias Christen, and Cassie Kamischke, who work in Miller’s lab, and Paul Wiggins, UW assistant professor of physics and bioengineering. The paper appears in the online journal eLife.

In an earlier paper, Miller and his colleagues showed that when bacteria divided, the concentration of an important regulatory molecule, called cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) was unevenly distributed between the two progeny. That finding was published in the journal Science in 2010.

Different concentrations of c-di-GMP can have a profound influence on a cell’s behavior.

In the latest study, Miller and his colleagues worked out the molecular mechanism behind the difference in c-di-GMP concentrations seen between daughter cells.

When Pseudomonas cells divide, they pinch in half to create two daughter cells. Although the cells are genetically identical, only one daughter cell can inherit the bacterium’s single propeller. The other cell can synthesize its own propeller, but immediately after division the two cells are quite different.

“What we have shown is that the uneven inheritance of organelles is another way cells have to create diversity and increase the chances of the survival of its species,” Miller said.

He added that his team’s findings may help explain how bacteria resist antibiotic treatments by always having some cells in their populations in a slow-growing, resting state. Since antibiotics target fast-growing cells, these resting cells are more likely to survive the treatment.

Read more in UW Today.


Clinical Care 

Holiday video features inspiring stories from UW Medicine  

Inspiring stories abound at UW Medicine. In late December, several such stories were shared in a holiday video. View the video and hear uplifting stories of parents who transformed heartbreak into philanthropy, a student and a donor who believe in the power of education, and a couple determined to cure prostate cancer.

Why men need doctors

Hunter Wessels

(The following was adapted from an article published on UW Medicine health.)

“There are a lot of reasons men are less likely than women to have a regular physician, go in for checkups, and go to the doctor when they are sick,” says Hunter Wessells, UW professor and chair of urology, and an expert in reconstructive surgery of the genitourinary tract, acute injury management and complex surgery for male sexual dysfunction.

“Women are often more comfortable with going to the doctor. They may have been cared for by a gynecologist/obstetrician during their childbearing years. And mothers are often the parent who takes the children to the pediatrician. So they are used to going to the doctor to get preventive care,” says Wessells. “For many men, the last time they saw a doctor was for their last sports physical, and if they get sick, many think they should tough it out. As a result, when men do seek medical care, they are often in worse shape than they would have been if they had come in when their symptoms first appeared.”

Routine checkups can keep men healthy longer

One of the best things men can do to protect their health is establish a relationship with a doctor they are comfortable with and trust. “That way they will be sure to get the preventive care they need and have someone to turn to if they have concerns or if they fall ill,” Wessells says.

For example, as men age, most develop an enlarged prostate gland. When this happens, they may find they have to urinate more frequently, have a reduced stream and have to wake up more often at night to use the bathroom.

“Men are often embarrassed to talk about these symptoms and put off going to see a doctor. But there are other more serious conditions that can cause the same symptoms, including bladder and prostate cancer,” Wessells says. “Most of the time, the problem turns out to be ‘garden variety’ enlarged prostate, but it’s important to make sure it’s not one of these other more serious conditions because, if they are caught early, it’s easier to treat and have better outcomes.”

For more information on men’s health and other health topics, visit the UW Medicine health website.


Education and Training 

UW School of Medicine alumni awards nominations open until Feb. 21

Catherine Otto
Otto Catherine

Every year, the UW School of Medicine Alumni Association recognizes exceptional alumni with a series of awards, presented at the Reunion Weekend.

UW School of Medicine alumni, faculty, staff and other professional colleagues are invited to nominate alumni for one or more of the awards listed below. Anyone who has received an M.D. from or completed a residency program or fellowship at the UW School of Medicine is eligible. Nominations are due by February 21, 2014.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna whose professional achievements and cumulative contributions have brought personal distinction, enhanced the profession, improved the welfare of the general public and brought honor to their alma mater. Catherine M. Otto, M.D. ’79, Fel. ’85, received the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award. She is the J. Ward Kennedy-Hamilton Endowed Chair in Cardiology and professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Washington. 

The Alumni Humanitarian Award acknowledges an alumnus or alumna who embodies the ideals of the School of Medicine and whose career reflects an ongoing commitment to serve others through the practice of medicine.

The Medical Alumni Service Award honors an alumnus or alumna whose dedicated and determined efforts on behalf of the UW School of Medicine and the UW Medicine Alumni Association have benefited the community.

The Alumni Early Achievement Award honors an alumnus or alumna who graduated from medical school within the last 20 years, and has excelled in his or her career in medicine, making significant contributions to clinical care, medical science, humanitarianism or administrative activities.

Nominations can be submitted online or by email medalum@uw.edu. If you have any questions, please contact 206.685.1875.

Microsoft-UW Workshop on Technology Enriched Instruction offered Feb. 25

UW School of Medicine faculty who teach health sciences professional students in classroom settings are invited to participate in a full-day hands-on interactive workshop on how to use technology to increase in-class collaboration, problem solving, engagement and learning. Learn to Use Technology in Teaching: A Microsoft-UW Workshop on Technology Enriched Instruction will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Husky Union Building (HUB), Room 250, UW Seattle campus.

The session incorporates participatory and inquiry-based learning, allowing faculty to actively experience a range of technology tools and resources and research-based approaches to their use in teaching. The workshop and the accompanying materials are designed to be resources faculty can use in the future to help colleagues gain the same understandings of the use of technology in their classrooms.

Participants should bring their course syllabi and teaching challenges to the workshop and leave with new ideas about how to address those challenges using technology in pedagogically appropriate ways. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.

Sign up for the workshop online.

The workshop is a collaborative project between Microsoft and the UW School of Medicine’s Center for Leadership and Innovation in Medical Education (CLIME, formerly called the Center for Medical Education), Office of Academic Affairs, and the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education.

Contact Stephanie Habben habbes@uw.edu for information.


WWAMI Regional News  

Lisa Benzel appointed Montana WWAMI TRUST Director

Lisa Benzel
Lisa Benzel

Lisa Benzel has been appointed director of the Montana WWAMI Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST) program. The program trains University of Washington School of Medicine WWAMI students for careers working in rural and other underserved areas of the WWAMI region.

As director, Benzel will interface with the Montana TRUST preceptors, local hospitals and communities, and with Montana WWAMI TRUST students. Montana’s 2013 legislative session approved the expansion of the Montana WWAMI class size to 30 students and increased the Montana WWAMI TRUST program to 10 students yearly. Benzel will also interface with the Montana WWAMI Clinical Office in Whitefish, the Montana WWAMI MSU office in Bozeman, and the UW School of Medicine’s TRUST office in Seattle.

For the past six years, Benzel was director of the South Central Montana Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Serving as its first director, she assisted Montana WWAMI with Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP) and TRUST placements, the Montana WWAMI Premed Conference, Osler’s Evenings at Montana State University, and in a number of pipeline programs such as MedStart and REACH.

Benzel has been active with Health Occupations Students of America-Future Health Professionals on a regional and statewide basis. Through her relationship with the National Health Service Corp and the National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network, she has significant knowledge of and experience with physician recruitment in the state. In these roles she has traveled throughout Montana to develop relationships with R/UOP and TRUST providers, local hospital administrators and other key individuals in healthcare. Prior to her position with the South Central Montana AHEC, Benzel was the recruitment director for Montana Health Jobs through the Montana Health Association and human resources director at St. Peter’s in Helena.

Upcoming Events

The following events may be of interest to the UW Medicine community:    

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute, Jan. 16

“The time is right to do what is right.” (MLK):  The UW Health Sciences Center and UW Medical Center pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the annual celebration honoring his birthday, 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Lobby. Luis Ricardo Fraga, UW associate vice provost for faculty advancement and director of the UW Diversity Research Institute will give the keynote address. The celebration will also include remarks by second-year Master of Social Work student Amal Abdulrahman, music by the Eckstein Middle School Senior Jazz Band, poetry, dancers, awards, and refreshments. Contact Julie Collier at jcollier@uw.edu or 206.685.1933 for more information.

20th Annual Helen & John Schilling Lecture, Jan. 31, 2014 

Of Men and Mice: An Iterative Strategy to Dissect the Immune Response to Trauma, 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, Hogness Auditorium, Health Sciences Bldg., Room A-420. Timothy R. Billiar, the George Vance Foster Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, will discuss recent findings about mechanisms regulating immune dysfunction following trauma in both human and experimental models. The talk will also provide a framework around which to pursue a complex human disease through an iterative strategy between clinical data and mouse models. A reception will follow the lecture. Contact Kate Rimmer krimmer@uw.edu or 206.616.2752 for more information.

Mini-Medical School begins Feb. 4

Hypnosis and Meditation: Similarities and Differences Between Two Successful Therapeutic Approaches, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 4, Hogness Auditorium, Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Center. The lecture will be given by Sarah Bowen, UW acting assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and Shelley Ann Wiechman, UW associate professor of rehabilitation medicine. This is the first of UW Medicine’s 2014 Mini-Medical School, a series of free lectures and demonstrations designed to teach the general public about medical science, patient care and leading-edge research at the UW. All lectures take place at 7 p.m. on consecutive Tuesdays through March 11. Learn more about the 2014 Mini-Medical School online. For more information on Mini-Medical School, call 206.685.9420 or e-mail Julie Collier, UW Medicine Strategic Marketing and Communications, at minimed@uw.edu.

Save the Date: Paul Ramsey’s Annual Address, Feb. 6, 2014

Paul Ramsey, CEO, UW Medicine, executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, University of Washington, 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 to 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6 in Hogness Auditorium, Health Sciences Bldg., and simulcast to Harborview Medical Center, South Lake Union, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, and Valley Medical Center. Receptions in each setting will follow the address. For more information, contact Julie Monteith at jspiro@uw.edu or 206.543.7718.

Continuing Medical Education 

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.


In the News

Innovator Recognition 2013 celebrates entrepreneurial spirit

UW President Michael Young joined more than 200 guests from across campus Dec. 10 for C4C’s second annual Innovator Recognition event. The event celebrated UW’s entrepreneurial researchers, faculty, and the many talent philanthropists working with them to propel ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace. Sixteen researchers competed in C4C’s Innovator Showcase 2013, which previewed the latest spin-out technologies and gave researchers the opportunity to discuss their journeys from lab to market. Watch the C4C Innovator Recognition Video. Read more in UW Today.


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