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February 20, 2015
Table of contents
Outstanding growth and progress at UW Medicine Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence
I had the pleasure of reviewing the 2014 progress report from the UW Medicine Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence, which has demonstrated outstanding growth and progress. I greatly appreciate the visionary gift of $10 million from the Cambia Health Foundation that is helping to support this important work. The Center has been renamed the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence (Cambia PCCE) in recognition of this generous support.
Its mission is to improve the palliative care received by UW Medicine patients with life-threatening illness and to provide new knowledge, and educational and clinical resources to improve palliative care regionally, nationally and globally. The Center has 350 members, with more than 110 added in the last year alone.
A few other highlights from the past year:
I urge you to review the progress report from the Center and to contact Drs. Curtis or Back if you would like more information or to become involved. Congratulations and thank you to the entire Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence team that is performing exceptional work to improve the lives of all people who live with chronic and life-limiting illness.
Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
UW researchers are part of a study published Feb. 19 in The New England Journal of Medicine that demonstrates the effectiveness of the strategy proposed by the World Health Organization to eradicate yaws by 2020. One round of mass treatment with single-dose oral azithromycin was shown to greatly reduce the transmission and prevalence of yaws on Lihir Island of Papua New Guinea.
Yaws is a chronic neglected tropical disease that is related to syphilis, but is transmitted, mostly among children, by nonsexual skin-to-skin contact. It primarily affects the skin and bones of children and can cause severe bone deformities in the long term. This highly contagious infection is prevalent in 12 very poor countries in areas where people have little access to healthcare services and live in poor hygienic conditions.
UW study authors include Shelia Lukehart, professor of medicine and global health, whose lab studies the pathogenesis of syphilis and the immune response in humans and animals to Treponema pallidum ( a bacterium with subspecies that cause treponemal diseases such as syphilis, bejel, pinta and yaws); and Charmie Godornes, a research scientist in Lukehart's lab. For more information, see the story on HS NewsBeat.
Lesbians have a higher risk for cervical cancer based on a confluence of factors, according to a UW study published in The Nurse Practitioner. Lindsay Waterman, a nurse practitioner who practices primarily at Valley Medical Center, and Joachim Voss, UW associate professor of biobehavioral nursing and health systems in the School of Nursing, collaborated on a review of previous literature regarding lesbians’ healthcare, human papillomavirus (HPV), women’s risks for cervical cancer and other potential healthcare limitations, such as lack of insurance. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are attributable to HPV.
Research showed that, despite at least four cervical-cancer studies that indicate 77 percent of lesbians have had sex with men, healthcare providers assume that lesbians lack sexual contact with men, and thus often do not encourage lesbian patients to get regular HPV screenings, Waterman said. Clinicians are also unlikely to ask about a woman’s sexual orientation if they are unsure of the answer. For more information, see the story on HS NewsBeat.
Seattle is hosting this year’s annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), which brings together top basic, translational and clinical researchers from around the world to share the latest studies, important developments and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases. CROI is a global model of collaborative science and the premier international venue for bridging basic and clinical investigation into clinical practice in the field of HIV and related viruses. CROI 2015 will be held from Feb. 23-Feb. 26 at the Washington State Convention Center. Julie Overbaugh, UW associate professor of microbiology, is one of the conference organizers. For more information, see the conference website.
It turns out that cancer patients are far from demanding, Anthony L. Back, UW professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology, writes in a commentary in JAMA Oncology: In his editorial, 'The myth of the demanding patient,' he notes, “We have to stop blaming patients for being demanding. In reality, it is hardly happening. The myth of the demanding patient is more about our own responses and how lackluster communication skills can contribute to difficult situations that stick in our throats and our memories. And when we have calmed down enough to look up, we see that what is really happening between patients and physicians these days is something quite different. For more information, see the Feb. 12, 2015 article in JAMA Oncology.
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UW Medicine and Alaska Airlines are pleased to announce a new partnership. Tim Dellit, UW associate professor in medicine in the Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases and associate dean for clinical affairs, has been named the medical director for Alaska Airlines. Dellit and UW Medicine will provide consultation, particularly in the area of infectious diseases and infection control and will coordinate with Alaska Airlines’ Safety Program in education, training and response to emerging health threats.
Douglas Diekema, UW professor of pediatrics and an emergency room physician at Seattle Children's, spoke on KUOW about the surprising reasons behind the growing anti-vaccine movement. Why is it that wealthy families are more likely not to vaccinate? Diekema said that it's possibly due to the fact that they have more time to "surf the Internet" and come across articles with unreliable sources. He also attributes the rise in the movement to lack of memory about these diseases. He said some families may be opting out because they figure that a high rate of vaccination could protect others. For more on the story, listen to the interview (7:40) on KUOW.
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John A. Stamatoyannopoulos, UW associate professor of genome sciences and medicine, and director of the UW ENCODE Center, delivered a very popular Feb. 12 Science in Medicine lecture, “Decoding the human genome.” His lab focuses on decoding the regulatory circuitry of the human genome through the application of high-throughput molecular and computational technologies.
Stamatoyannopoulous explained why understanding how the human genome functions is important to progress in genomic medicine: “The first phase of the Human Genome Project provided the primary genome sequence and a basic catalog of genes, which occupy only 2 percent of the genome. Every cell in the body has the same genes, but different kinds of cells, such as liver or heart, switch on different combinations of genes. When cells become unhealthy, these combinations change. Understanding how genes turn on and off is therefore vital to deciphering their role in both normal health and disease. The instructions for how genes are controlled are contained in small DNA 'switches' scattered around the 98 percent of the genome that does not contain genes. Mapping and decoding these instructions is a central mission of the ENCODE project and the focus of work at the UW ENCODE Center.” To hear the lecture, go to the Science in Medicine website.
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Students from UW’s schools of Medicine, Nursing and Dentistry teamed up on President’s Day to pamper, examine the feet and check the teeth of homeless moms and kids at Mary's Place, a homeless shelter in Belltown. The program, “Teeth and Toes,” grew out from the Community Health Advancement Program (CHAP) in the Department of Family Medicine. All CHAP projects are student-run. Student leaders coordinate projects for one year and must plan, administer and evaluate their projects, collaborate with the partner community agency, raise funds for supplies and recruit student volunteer teams and faculty. They are mentored in their leadership development and attend pertinent seminars particular to their project by program staff and community partners.
Frederica C. Overstreet, UW assistant professor of family medicine, is the faculty adviser and oversaw students at Mary’s Place. “This is the place where a lot of people get affirmation on why they went into medicine in the first place,” she told KOMO TV. View the story on KOMO TV 4.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) hosted the forum “Communicating Data for Impact” on February 10. This knowledge-café-style event drew data designers, analysts and researchers to examine ways to harness their organizations’ data, create accessible and understandable formats and tell powerful stories through data. Speakers included Deep Dhillon, chief technology officer at Socrata, Inc.; Peter Speyer, IHME’s chief data and technology officer; and Noah Iliinsky, senior product manager for user experience at Amazon Web Services. A webcast of the event can be viewed here.
Wyoming WWAMI students received a first-hand look at the unique aspects of rural healthcare delivery in Wyoming through a non-clinical selective course called “Rural Healthcare Delivery.” First-year students in Laramie were given the opportunity to take this course as a result of Wyoming WWAMI joining the Targeted Rural Underserved Track program (TRUST) this year. Seventeen students participated in the course, which serves as an introduction to the rewards and challenges of practicing medicine in a rural environment.
Classroom sessions focused on creating a basic understanding of the clinical, economic, social and ethical realities of rural medical practice, highlighting the differences of practicing and living in rural versus urban communities and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on rural healthcare delivery. Jennifer Rice, a family medicine physician from Buffalo, spoke to the class regarding her career choice of rural family medicine and her experiences practicing in rural communities.
The students went on a day-long field trip, driving 75 miles from Laramie to Platte County Memorial Hospital in Wheatland, Wyoming, population 3,600. The students toured the facility as well as the community clinic and visited with Ty Battershell, emergency medicine physician, about the challenges of providing trauma and emergency medical care in a small rural community hospital. The class also spent time visiting with Lauri Palmer, a family physician in Wheatland, about the rewards and obstacles to small town practice.
After lunch at the hospital the group traveled to Cheyenne to visit the Cheyenne Family Medicine Residency. The students met with Program Director Ron Malm to discuss opportunities in family medicine as well as the residency application process, before returning to Laramie.
William Catterall, UW professor and chair of pharmacology, and Todd Scheuer, UW research professor of pharmacology, received the 2015 Kenneth S. Cole Award in membrane biophysics from the Biophysical Society. Walter Stühmer, who did postdoc work in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at UW, and is the director of the Molecular Biology of Neuronal Signals at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine in Germany, also shares the award. Cole is a well-known physicist and a founder of the Biophysical Society. This year’s winners join 44 past recipients of this prestigious award.
According to the Biophysical Society, “Scheuer joined Catterall’s group at a pivotal point in the history of ion channel research…Over the past 25 years, this team has made seminal contributions to our understanding of sodium and calcium channels at the molecular and structural level.”
The Biophysical Society also noted that Scheuer and Catterall have jointly mentored many postdocs and graduate students who have gone on to establish independent research programs at universities and industrial settings throughout the world. For more on their contributions to membrane biophysics, see the article in the Biophysical Society Newsletter.
The American Association of Critical Care Nurses awarded a gold-level Beacon Award for excellence to the Medical Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Harborview Medical Center. The Beacon Award for Excellence — a significant milestone on the path to exceptional patient care and healthy work environments — recognizes unit caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with the American Association of Critical Care Nurses six healthy work environment standards. Units that achieve this three-year, three-level award with gold, silver or bronze designations meet national criteria consistent with Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.
“Units that receive this national recognition serve as role models to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care,” said Vicki Good, president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
The University of Washington chose 14 researchers across campus to receive this year’s UW Innovation Awards. Health sciences winners include: Roger Vilardaga, acting assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Jasmine Zia, acting instructor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology; Houra Merrikh, assistant professor of microbiology; and Larry Zweifel, assistant professor of pharmacology and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
The awards are given to encourage early and mid-career scientists to pursue projects that may not yet qualify for outside funding, but show future promise and will engage students in innovative, creative work.
“These are some of the most creative thinkers in our midst and are at the heart of the UW’s innovation ecosystem. We congratulate them for fueling the innovative research and education that is working toward a world of good,” said Provost Ana Mari Cauce. Over the next two years, $1.3 million will be distributed among five individuals or teams in the Innovation Research Award category, which supports “unusually creative” faculty members in engineering, health and natural and social sciences, and their research projects. Read more about their projects in UW Today.
UW Medicine’s 2015 Mini-Medical School takes place at 7 p.m. on consecutive Tuesdays from Feb. 3 through March 10 in Hogness Auditorium. Session topics: Feb. 3) Scalpel. Clamp. Sutures. What does it take to become a surgeon? Feb. 10) Depression and anxiety – What your neighbors (and society) are not talking about. Feb. 17) The healthy brain – Live smart and stay sharp at any age. Feb. 24) Tackling twin epidemics: New innovations to fight obesity and diabetes. March 3) First Responders – Saving lives when minutes matter! March 10) One Health: Animals, humans and the environment. For more information and to register, please see the Mini-Medical School website.
Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the UW School of Medicine, will host a series of town hall meetings to give an overview of the progress and plans for UW Medicine and then answer questions. The meetings will replace the annual address for 2015.
Dr. Thomas H. Bornemann, director of the mental health program for The Carter Center, will give the lecture from 5-6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, Foege Auditorium, 060, UW Genome Science Building. Bornemann has spent his entire career in public mental health working in all aspects including clinical practice, research, research management, policy development and administration at the national level, including as senior adviser for mental health for the World Health Organization.
The Global Health Watch is widely perceived as the definitive voice for an alternative discourse on health. It integrates rigorous analysis, alternative proposals and stories of struggles and change to present a compelling case for the imperative to work for a radical transformation of the way we approach actions and policies on health. It is designed to question present policies on health and to propose alternatives. Global Health Watch 4 is a collaborative effort by activists and academics from across the world, and has been coordinated by the People’s Health Movement, Asociacion Latino-americana de Medicina Social, Health Action International, Third World Network and Medact. This event is co-sponsored by Doctors for Global Health, Health Alliance International, People’s Health Movement and the UW Department of Global Health. The event is from 5-7 p.m. in the Walker Ames Room of Kane Hall.
Walter J. Pories, professor of surgery and biochemistry and director of the Metabolic Institute at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., will provide an overview of the development of bariatric surgery and discuss the mechanisms underlying the remission of diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. As a cartoonist, he may enliven the discussion with some thoughts about surgical research. Research symposium from 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. UW Auditorium. Lecture 3:30 p.m., UW Auditorium. For more information, see the Department of Surgery website.
Speaker is David M. Scollard, MD, PhD, Chief, Clinical Branch National Hansen's Disease Programs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The event is 11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m. in Health Sciences T-553.
The Pacific Northwest Prostate Cancer SPORE is a group of four prominent research institutions working together toward a common goal of eradicating prostate cancer. Funding priority will be given to proposals that are multidisciplinary, likely to lead to submission of grant applications for independently funded investigations and have translational potential. For more information, please see the website.
Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.