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March 2, 2012

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

UW Medicine Salutes Harborview benefit raises $1.6 million for Mission of Caring

Dear Colleagues:

The 20th annual UW Medicine Salutes Harborview benefit dinner, held last Saturday night at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, was a wonderful event on behalf of a community treasure, Harborview Medical Center. Community co-chairs Jeff and Susan Brotman, Steve and Connie Ballmer, Bill and Mimi Gates, and Erik and Julie Nordstrom hosted an evening filled with stories that depict the outstanding patient care provided at Harborview Medical Center by UW Medicine faculty and staff. The heart-warming atient stories were accompanied by a moving performance by the world-renowned Canadian Tenors who donated their time for the event, and the outstanding talent of the University of Washington Studio Jazz Ensemble directed by Fred Radke. The sold-out event was attended by nearly 800 supporters of Harborview, including faculty, staff, alumni, patients, friends and others.

Four videos told the stirring stories of individuals from our community whose lives could have been irrevocably changed by tragedy yet who are alive and well today thanks to the brilliant dedication of UW Medicine physicians and multidisciplinary teams based at Harborview.

The Mission of Caring Award this year was given to all of the UW Medicine physicians and staff at Harborview Medical Center. Dozens of UW Medicine employees who work at Harborview stood to accept the enthusiastic applause of event attendees.

SaluteHMC ChairsWith matching gifts totaling $500,000 from the eight community co-chairs, the “Raise your Hand” portion of the evening resulted in donations of $1.6 million on behalf of the Mission of Caring.

I would like to thank the many individuals who made this event possible. I would also like to thank the corporations and other organizations, including our event sponsor, Western Washington Toyota Dealers Association, for their support. The generosity, enthusiasm and dedication of our community co-chairs were evident throughout the evening as each couple stood and described the care they had received at UW Medicine. The outstanding year-long efforts of Lynn Hogan and the entire UW Medicine Advancement team and the media and community relations team were evident throughout a flawless evening.

And to those UW Medicine faculty and staff who work at Harborview: lives are saved and health and welfare improved on a daily basis by the remarkable work that you do. Thank you for the legacy of caring that you provide for all our community members regardless of ability to pay.


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

(Photo: UW Medicine Salute Harborview Community Co-chairs (left to right): Bill Gates, Mimi Gates, Julie Nordstrom, Erik Nordstrom, Connie Ballmer, Steve Ballmer, Jeffrey Brotman and Susan Brotman.)  



Brain imaging differences evident at six months of age in infants who develop autism 

Stephen DagerSignificant differences in brain development starting at six months of age have been found in high-risk infants who later develop autism, compared to high-risk infants who did not develop autism. The study, conducted by UW researchers in collaboration with investigators at several North American universities, was published Feb. 17 in the American Journal of Psychiatry online.

Stephen R. Dager, UW professor of radiology and principal investigator at the UW site, said: “Although preliminary, these findings provide an important first step towards identifying biomarkers for risk that will advance our current ability to diagnose autism earlier.”

Annette Estes, UW research associate professor of speech and hearing sciences and co-author of the study, notes that the findings suggest autism does not appear suddenly in young children, but instead develops over time during infancy. This raises the possibility “that we may be able to alter that process with targeted intervention and improve outcomes for children with autism,” she said.

Study participants included 92 infants with older siblings with autism and are, therefore, considered to be at high genetic risk for autism, although none had symptoms at the beginning of the study. All had brain imaging scans at six months and behavioral assessments at 24 months. Most also had additional brain imaging scans at 12 and 24 months.

At 24 months, 28 of the infants at risk demonstrated symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, while 64 did not. The two groups differed in white matter fiber tract development – pathways that connect brain regions – as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA). FA measures white matter organization and development.

The study examined 15 separate fiber tracts and found significant differences in FA trajectories in 12 of the 15 tracts between the infants who developed autism and those who did not.

“This evidence, which implicates multiple fiber tract pathways, suggests that autism is a whole-brain phenomenon not isolated to any particular brain region at this early stage of development,” Dager said.

The findings are the latest from the ongoing Infant Brain Imaging Study Network, funded by the National Institutes of Health. Joseph Piven, professor of psychiatry at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and director of UNC’s Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, is senior author of the multi-institutional study. Other institutional participants in the study were the University of Utah, Washington University, McGill University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Alberta.

Read the study in the American Journal of Psychiatry online.

Researchers find genetic variation associated with type 1 diabetes

David Rawlings, UW professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and Jane Buckner from the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, have identified new clues as to how a common genetic change in a gene called PTPN22 may pre-dispose children and adults to develop autoimmune conditions, including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus.

“Five to 15 percent of Caucasians in the United States carry the specific genetic change we studied,” said Rawlings. “Our research focuses on how this change impacts the immune system.”

In their study, Altered B Cell Homeostasis is Associated with Type 1 Diabetes and Carriers of the PTPN22 Allelic Variant, Rawlings, Buckner and their colleagues looked at how B cells may promote auto-immune disease. B cells make antibodies, proteins that are required by the body to control many harmful agents including most viruses and bacteria. The study was published in The Journal of Immunology in January.

“People can be healthy, meaning that they are not diagnosed with diabetes or other conditions, and still have the genetic change in PTPN22,” says Rawlings. “Identifying associated changes in the function of immune cells, however, can help us learn more about people who are at risk for autoimmune conditions. In this new study, we identified altered features in the B cells in both unaffected people as well as in diabetics who carried this change in PTPN22. Based on the study, these abnormalities may help to explain how this genetic change promotes diabetes or other autoimmune conditions.”

Rawlings said that researchers have long suspected that abnormal T cells lead to diabetes. But prior to this study, there was “less compelling evidence that abnormal B cells promote diabetes,” he said.

Researchers involved in a recent worldwide clinical trial at 15 medical centers found that injections of the drug rituximab (also known as Rituxin), which is used to eliminate B cells, can slow the destruction of insulin-producing cells in some patients with type 1 diabetes. Rawlings, Buckner and their teams will now follow up on that study, investigating what happened with the children treated in that clinical trial and whether the changes they have identified may predict a better response. They will also look into whether the same immune abnormalities can be observed before children develop diabetes. 

Funding available to support studies in the basic biology of aging

The UW’s Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging will fund pilot projects in basic research on the biology of aging. Up to $35,000 per pilot is available for one year of support.

Investigators at or affiliated with the University of Washington or Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are invited to apply. Junior faculty members are especially encouraged to apply. Applications may be designed to rapidly pursue a new finding or research opportunity, or to obtain preliminary data that will serve as a basis for a major research grant application. While postdoctoral fellows cannot serve as principal investigators, they may receive support via faculty sponsors. The application deadline is March 30, 2012. Funding will begin July 1.

Application instructions are available online. For more information regarding the application process, please contact Kathy Fawthrop at 206.616.4135 or kathyfaw@uw.edu.

The Shock Center also awards up to $35,000 for junior faculty support. Contact Peter Rabinovitch at petersr@uw.edu  for more information.





Clinical Care

Metro King County Council recognizes Valley Medical Center excellence

Valley and Metro KCThe Metropolitan King County Council has recognized Valley Medical Center for excellence in healthcare and also for the organization’s nationally recognized financial management and award-winning work environment.

“I am very proud to present Valley Medical Center with this recognition,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, the sponsor of the recognition. “The medical center has been providing exemplary medical services to South King County residents for almost 65 years, while continuously improving its financial management practices and creating a workplace where all employees feel appreciated.”

Valley Medical Center has been recognized for outstanding, evidenced-based care for those suffering from heart conditions and strokes, and ranked No. 1 in Washington state and among the top two percent in the U.S. for overall orthopedic services, joint replacement and spine surgery by HealthGrades.

“Our mission and focus have always been to improve the health of our community, and in recent years, VMC has expanded to meet the demands of a growing Southeast King County community,” said Valley Medical Center CEO Rich Roodman. “We have added new primary care and urgent care clinics out into neighborhoods for easy access for our residents, elevated the expertise of our clinicians and staff to support our medical programs, and expanded our comprehensive programs and services to ensure patient safety and exceptional care for all members of our community regardless of their ability to pay.”

Over the past 10 years, Valley Medical Center has succeeded in practicing sound financial management and has been identified as a model for other entities in the state by Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag. The medical center has received national awards for budgeting, including the outstanding achievement in budgeting award from the Governmental Financial Officers Association.

In addition to recognizing Valley Medical Center’s excellence in healthcare and sound financial management, the King County Council also commended the organization for the environment it has created for its employees. Over the past four years, the organization has been ranked as one of the top 100 “Best Places to Work in Healthcare” in the nation by the publication, Modern Healthcare.

(Photo: Rich Roodman (center), Valley Medical Center CEO, is flanked by Metropolitan King County Councilmembers who presented him with a certificate of honor.)

Seattle Business honors UW Medicine people and programs

UW Medicine staff, programs and affiliates were among the 21 Washington state innovators, CEOs, hospitals and other organizations honored at Seattle Business magazine’s fourth Leaders in Health Care awards dinner, Feb. 23, at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle.

Outstanding Health Care Executive: Johnese Spisso, UW Medicine chief health system officer and UW vice president for medical affairs, received a silver award for her strategic leadership of the clinical entities of UW Medicine, the regional Level 1 trauma system and emergency preparedness, and for championing programs for the most vulnerable community members.

Outstanding Health Care Professional: Margaret Hall, chief of cardiology and medical director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, received the top award in this category for being a strong proponent of patient education and empowerment by physicians. Shannon Fitzgerald, chief for advanced practice services at Seattle Children’s, received a silver award for her efforts to deliver quality care to underserved patients locally and globally by teaching clinics best practices.

Outstanding Community Outreach: Seattle Cancer Care Alliance received a silver award for bringing together the combined expertise and resources of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s to serve more than 150,000 patients in communities throughout Washington, Alaska and Montana. UW Medicine also received a silver award for the numerous healthcare delivery venues under the leadership of Nancy Sugg, UW associate professor of medicine and director of the Pioneer Square Clinic, that give poor and underserved Seattleites access to first-class health care.

Read the full article Leaders in Health Care 2012.  



Education and Training

Jonathan Drezner hosts international conference to establish universal ECG interpretation for young athletes 

Jon DreznerAn international conference of sports cardiologists and sports medicine physicians met in Seattle last month to define electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation standards in athletes. They are also developing a comprehensive online training module for physicians around the world to use in gaining expertise in ECG interpretation and proper evaluation of abnormalities suggestive of a pathologic cardiovascular disorder. 

The conference was hosted by Jonathan Drezner, UW associate professor of family medicine and first vice president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM). Drezner also holds a Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine. Conference participants were from the United States, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, and Qatar.

“This was an amazing meeting and truly an international effort,” Drezner said. “The collaboration alone between U.S. and international cardiology and sports medicine leaders will move this field forward to improve the cardiovascular care of athletes.”

There is a shortage of physician expertise world-wide in the interpretation of an athlete’s ECG. Physician education in ECG interpretation using modern standards can help distinguish physiologic adaptations in athletes from ECG findings suggestive of underlying pathology.

The conference worked to establish a consensus for ECG interpretation standards with attention to the detection of diseases at risk for sudden cardiac death, false-positive readings, and secondary evaluation of ECG abnormalities, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.

The group will translate their consensus recommendations into a comprehensive online training module that will be free to any physician world-wide. The module, hosted by British Medical Journal E-Learning, will help train more physicians who are skilled and capable of accurate ECG interpretation in athletes. Improved ECG interpretation may identify athletes with at-risk disorders and help prevent sudden death in sport.

In addition to AMSSM, conference partners included the European Society of Cardiology Sports Cardiology Section, the Pediatric & Congenital Electrophysiology Society, the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center, the Nick of Time Foundation, Cardiac Science, Ardea Screen and Parent Heart Watch.

Society of General Internal Medicine honors Jennifer Best and Ellen Schur

Two assistant professors of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine who are based at Harborview Medical Center were honored with annual awards from the Northwest Region of the Society of General Internal Medicine at its regional meeting Feb. 3.

Jennifer Best received the Clinician-Educator of the Year Award. Best, a graduate of the Northwestern University Medical School, completed internal medicine residency and served as chief resident at UW. She became an assistant professor in 2009. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Society of Hospital Medicine, was a Teaching Scholar, and has been recognized several times for excellence in teaching. In addition to attending at Harborview, Best teaches and mentors residents and serves as associate program director for inpatient and hospital-based medicine in the internal medicine residency program.

Ellen Schur received the Clinician-Investigator of the Year Award. A graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine, Schur completed an internal medicine residency and received a master’s degree in epidemiology at UW. She became an assistant professor in 2009. She is an inpatient medicine attending at Harborview and mentors junior faculty. She conducts interdisciplinary investigations of eating behavior and appetite regulation. She is an affiliate investigator in the UW Clinical Nutrition Research Unit and the Diagnostic Imaging Sciences Center.



WWAMI Regional News

Montana TRUST graduate KayCee Gardner breaks new ground

KayCee Gardner and Laura BennettFourth-year medical student KayCee Gardner has always been a trailblazer. Gardner has become the first TRUST (Targeted Rural/Underserved Track) scholar to sign a residency contract prior to the Residency Match with the Montana Family Medicine Residency in Billings. This integrated residency pilot, authorized by the National Residency Match Program, allows students direct entry into one of the 18 WWAMI family medicine residency network programs.

The residency contract will give Gardner the opportunity to continue with elective experiences in her TRUST community throughout residency. This is a truly unique longitudinal continuity teaching experience—seven years of learning in a single rural or underserved community during both undergraduate and graduate medical education. After a sub-internship rotation in Billings, Gardner and the Montana Family Medicine Residency opted to sign an early contract.

KayCee Gardner entered WWAMI at Montana State University (MSU) in 2007. She grew up on a ranch outside of Hammond, Mont., and graduated from Broadus High School in 2003. She attended MSU, graduating summa cum laude in 2007 with a B.S. in cell biology and neuroscience. While at MSU, Gardner volunteered with several groups including: Relay for Life, Scramble 4-a-Cure, bone marrow drives, the Child Advancement Project, Expanding your Horizons, Habitat for Humanity, Eagle Mount Therapeutic Recreation, Bowl for Kids’ Sake, and others.

Gardner entered the Montana WWAMI program in 2007, and was a volunteer participant in the first class of TRUST, a four-year rural/underserved longitudinal continuity medical school experience. Gardner’s TRUST mentor was Laura Bennett in Lewistown. Her introduction to rural medicine started with a two-week pre-matriculation experience with Bennett and continued with five significant teaching experiences in Lewistown during the first three years of medical school. This culminated in her third year of medical school with a five-month continuity experience in Lewistown as part of the WRITE (WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience) program. During this WRITE experience, KayCee helped initiate a health interest club in the local high school.

In her fourth year, Gardner was presented with the George Saari Professionalism Award at the Montana State University White Coat Ceremony. This award is presented annually to a fourth-year Montana WWAMI student who best exhibits the professionalism and humanitarian characteristics exemplified by the late Dr. George Saari, who combined compassion and clinical excellence that demonstrated the interconnection of the art and science of medicine. This award in the amount of $1000 helps student recipients achieve the excellence in medicine and life that Dr. Saari achieved. 

(Photo: KayCee Garner (left) with her mentor Laura Bennett.)

Washington, Montana and Idaho WWAMI sites set dates for 40th anniversary events

The WWAMI regional medical education program was first established in 1971 as a partnership between the UW School of Medicine and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (later at Anchorage). Montana and Idaho joined the program in 1972 and Wyoming in 1996. The Alaska program marked its 40th year in September, and Boise and Cheyenne in February. Upcoming anniversary events include: Spokane, March 22; Moscow/Pullman, April 20; Billings, May 10; Missoula, May 18; and Seattle, June 3. For more information, please contact Kellie Engle at 543-2249 or kaengle@uw.edu.



Upcoming Events

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

Faculty Development Workshop, March 6

The AMIGO3 model: A learner-oriented teaching methodology, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, March 6, UW South Campus Center, Room 316. David Masuda, lecturer in the Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics, will help participants explore the AMIGO3 teaching design methodology, a concept of creating skilled life-long learners, regardless of the discipline being taught. Enrollment in this free workshop is limited. Registration is required. For more information, contact Rachael Hogan at rhogan@u.washington.edu  or 206.616.9875.

24th Annual Robert F. Rushmer Lecture, March 23

Fighting Cancer with Nanoparticle Medicines: The Nanoscale Matters! by Mark E. Davis, 4:15 to 5:15 p.m., Friday, March 23, Physics/Astronomy Auditorium (PAA - A102), UW campus. Davis is the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Professor of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology and a member of the Experimental Therapeutics Program of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the City of Hope. He will discuss why newly engineered, nanosized medicines (that are highly multifunctional chemical systems) have the potential to provide “game-changing” ways to treat cancer. A reception will follow. Contact Shirley Nollette at 206.685.2002 or nolletts@u.washington.edu for more information.

Global Oncology Lecture Series begins March 26

A new lecture series that explores topics in the emerging field of global oncology begins at noon, Monday, March 26, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Weintraub Building, B1-076. The series first lecturers will be Beti Thompson, UW professor of health services, presenting Qualitative Research Opportunities in Saudi Arabia, and Ben Anderson, professor of surgery and global health, presenting BHGI Collaboration with the Columbia NCI in Bogota. The series will be introduced by Julie Gralow, professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology, and Ben Anderson, professor of surgery and global health. The one-hour lectures, presented by the Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington Cancer Consortium, will take place the fourth Monday of the month. Upcoming dates are April 23, June 25, July 23 (FHCRC, Yale Bldg., J1-102), Aug. 27, Sept. 24, Oct. 22, and Nov. 26. Contact Ksenia Koon at kkoon@seattlecca.org for more information.

9th Western Regional International Health Conference, April 27-29

At A Crossroads: Choosing Hidden Paths in Global Health, April 27-29, UW Seattle campus. This student-led conference seeks to engage the global health community in prioritizing global health programs based on need and to challenge existing paradigms in global health. The conference will explore the politics of the global health agenda, training for healthcare professionals, and realities in the field. Kavita Ramdas, executive director of Ripples to Waves: Program on Social Entrepreneurship and Development at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law will be the keynote speaker. Students, faculty, and professionals from all disciplines are invited to attend. Early bird registration until March 15. Register online. For more details about the conference, visit conference website or contact Colleen Fulp, graduate student WRIHC coordinator at cfulp@uw.edu.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.



In the News

Science Translational Medicine cover features the work of UW investigator Jeremy Duffield

The  cover of the Feb. 15 Science Translational Medicine depicts the work of Jeremy S. Duffield and colleagues. Duffield, UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology and an investigator in the Kidney Research Institute and the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, is senior author of the paper MicroRNA-21 Promotes Fibrosis of the Kidney by Silencing Metabolic Pathways, which identifies a promising target for antifibrotic therapies. Co-authors include Duffield Lab fellows Cuiyan Xan and Shuyu Ren and technician Geoffrey Linn.

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