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March 21, 2014

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

CEOs Against Cancer campaign promotes employee health

Dear Colleagues:

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has begun a new national program titled "CEOs Against Cancer." As co-chair (with Phyllis Campbell from J.P. Morgan Chase) for the regional American Cancer Society’s “CEOs Against Cancer” program, I have been actively involved in this important initiative. More than 15 Washington-based organizations have enrolled in a 2014 Challenge, including the University of Washington. These organizations are committed to making improvements among their employees in key focus areas important to reducing cancer and chronic disease, including cancer screening, tobacco cessation, healthy eating and physical activity.

The CEOs Against Cancer Challenge framework was developed in partnership with the UW Health Promotion Research Center. The UW has received a baseline assessment in the focus areas concerning achievement of best practices. Our progress will be tracked over time and reassessed at the end of the year to document progress and identify future workplace wellness improvement opportunities. The ACS will work with us to ensure successful implementation and provide additional resources when needed.

The report for the UW includes UW Medicine and all other components of the UW. Although UW Medicine would have a 100 percent grade for banning tobacco in the workplace, some other parts of the UW campus have not achieved this 100 percent status. Our scores are high compared with other large organizations. Although we have received relatively high scores in areas such as cancer screening, there is much more we can do to· promote workplace wellness and cancer prevention.

Teresa Spellman Gamble, senior administrator for strategic programs and ACO development at UW Medicine, is working with Mindy Kornberg, UW vice president for human resources, and others to develop and implement our response to this Challenge. At UW Medicine, our focus this year is increasing physical activity opportunities.

We plan to develop programs and resources to increase access to and participation in physical activity and fitness. One important resource open to all UW community members is the Whole U launched in January 2014. The Whole U promotes fitness and wellness through programs, community events, ways to connect and engage, messaging, and other approaches. A Kettlebell Workout held at Hec-Edmunson Gymnasium in January brought together over 1,000 people from across campus in a group workout. A Weekend Scavenger Hunt open to the UW community will be held in April. Relay For life of the University of Washington will be held May 10-11 at Husky Stadium. This event involves hundreds of teams in non-stop relays to raise funds to combat cancer.

Running and walking events are being planned, including opportunities for training plans, running/walking with UW colleagues, and discounted participant fees with event hosts. Existing resources to help community members remain or become active include the IMA facility with its fitness center, swimming pool, handball, racquetball, fitness classes and recreational sports programs. Other resources include UWalk, BikeSpace and access to the Burke-Gilman trail. For resources away from campus, the Whole U Fitness Network provides discounted membership rates at approximately 28 gyms/fitness studios in the greater Seattle area.

I encourage all UW Medicine community members to pay regular attention to maintaining and increasing your physical activity. We will be working over the coming year and beyond to help you achieve your fitness goals. Thank you for joining me and many others in adopting lifestyle and screening approaches that will reduce cancer and support our mission of 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



New cell line should accelerate embryonic stem cell research

Carol Ware
Carol Ware

University of Washington researchers have created a line of human embryonic stem cells with the ability to develop into a far broader range of tissues than most existing cell lines.

“These cells will allow us to gain a much greater understanding of normal embryonic development and have the real potential for use in developing ways to grow new tissues and organs for transplantation,” said Carol Ware, UW professor of comparative medicine. Ware is the lead author of a paper describing the new cell line.

The findings are reported in the March 10 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The cells, called naïve embryonic stem cells, normally appear at the earliest stages of embryonic development. They retain the ability to turn into any of all the different types of cells of the human body—a capacity called "pluripotency."

Researchers had been able to develop naïve cells using mouse embryonic stem cells, but to create naive human embryonic stem cells has required inserting a set of genes that force the cells to behave like naive cells.

While these transgenic cells are valuable research tools, the presence of artificially introduced genes meant the cells would not develop as normal embryonic cells would nor could they be safely used to create tissues and organs for transplantation.

In the article, Ware and her colleagues from the UW Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine describe how they successfully created a line of naïve human embryonic stem cells without introducing an artificial set of genes.

They first took embryonic stem cells that are slightly more developed, called primed stem cells, and grew them in a medium that contained factors that switched them back—or “reverse toggled” them—to the naïve state. They then used the reverse toggled cells to develop a culture medium that would keep them in the naïve state and create a stable cell line for study and research.

Then having worked out how to maintain the cells in the naïve state, Ware and her colleagues harvested naïve cells directly from donated human embryos and cultured them in the maintenance medium to see if they could create a stable cell line that had not undergone reverse toggling. After many tries, they succeeded.

Read more on the UW Medicine/Health Sciences NewsBeat website.

Study's 'panomic' approach to advanced breast cancer

Anthony Blau
Anthony Blau

Ten women with advanced breast cancer will participate in one of the most intensive clinical trials ever conducted to identify molecular changes in individual tumors and to understand the strategies cancers adopt to escape chemotherapy. The study is seeking enrollees.

University of Washington scientists, along with colleagues from more than a half-dozen other institutions, are analyzing tumors’ genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic data a so-called “panomic” approach. The study is called the "Intensive Trial of OMics in Cancer," or ITOMIC.

“Each cancer has a unique combination of genomic changes that drives a tumor’s behavior,” said Anthony Blau, UW professor of medicine and the study’s principal investigator. “Our goal is to understand the inner workings of each individual patient’s tumor.”

The study also is an early step to creating a massive, open-access, online database that will provide cancer specialists with more pinpointed information to optimize current and future patients’ treatment.

“There’s a good chance that the women who join this first trial will not benefit directly from what we learn, but women who follow them eventually will. The contribution of the women enrolling in this trial is invaluable and their decision to participate, frankly, heroic,” Blau said.

To enroll, a woman must have metastatic, triple-negative breast cancer and be about to begin treatment with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. Such breast cancers lack three types of receptors estrogen, progesterone and HER2/neu involved cell-growth regulation. Tumors that lack these receptors are extremely aggressive and are currently incurable once they have spread. About one in five women with breast cancer has triple-negative disease.

The trial subjects will undergo as many as seven biopsies at tumor and metastatic sites immediately before starting the cisplatin treatment. The biopsied tissue will be analyzed to identify molecular susceptibilities that will be detailed and provided to the patient and her doctor.

A panel of experts from the participating institutions will review each patient’s findings. Reviews and suggested potential treatment options will be provided to the patient and her doctor. Patients who choose to pursue a recommended treatment will receive assistance in gaining access to those drugs.

The research collaborative has now enlisted more than 70 researchers from more than six West Coast institutions including the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (an alliance between UW Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s); the University of California, Santa Cruz; The Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle; and Northwest Medical Specialties.

Read more on the UW Medicine/Health Sciences NewsBeat website.


Clinical Care 

UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence reports first-year progress

J. Randall Curtis
J Randall Curtis

The UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence, launched in October 2012, is on track to become an international leader in advancing the science and the delivery of palliative and end-of-life care.

In its first annual report, the Center cites significant progress in its goals to advance palliative and end-of-life care by increasing interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaborations in clinical care, education and research.

“I am extraordinarily pleased with the progress in each of these areas. Our programs are growing rapidly and meeting the high standards that we set,” said J. Randall Curtis, the A. Bruce Montgomery, M.D. American Lung Association Endowed Chair in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, UW professor of medicine, and director of the UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence. The co-director of the Center is Anthony Back, UW professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology.

Citing progress over the past year, Curtis summarized the Center’s achievements and ongoing efforts in its three operational components.

  • Clinical Operations is integrating, coordinating and augmenting clinical palliative care throughout UW Medicine and the region through such key activities as developing and implementing standards for palliative care services, palliative care quality metrics, and proactive screening programs for patients and families with unmet palliative care needs, as well as applying for Joint Commission Advanced Certification for Palliative Care at all UW Medicine hospitals. (UW Medical Center was the first to achieve the accreditation in February 2014.)
  • Education Operations is strengthening education in palliative care across the UW Health Science Schools with a focus on interprofessional education for trainees and practicing healthcare providers in all disciplines, including specialty providers in palliative care.
  • Research Operations is supporting the acquisition of new knowledge about palliative care by developing and supporting innovative research and collaborative research partnerships across UW Medicine and the region.

Curtis commented that one key achievement of the Palliative Care Center of Excellence in 2013 was the creation of a program lead by Stuart Farber, UW professor of family medicine and clinical operations chair of the UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence, called the Palliative Care Training Center. The goal of the Palliative Care Training Center is to develop and implement a training program for interprofessional palliative care specialists. Cambia Health Foundation awarded Farber a three-year, $697,106 grant to develop the regional Palliative Care Training Center, which will offer certification in palliative care for specialty level providers. The project is a partnership between the UW School of Medicine and state sponsors, including the Washington State Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Washington State Hospital Association, the Washington State Medical Association and community stakeholders.

Curtis added that a second key achievement which came to fruition in February 2014 was the establishment of Joint Commission Advanced Certification in Palliative Care for UW Medical Center. This advanced certification provides documentation of the outstanding palliative care program at UWMC.

“Stu Farber has been at the forefront of efforts to build palliative care at UW Medicine that have resulted in two outstanding achievements: Joint Commission Advanced Certification in Palliative Care at UW Medical Center and the funding of the Palliative Care Training Center to train physicians, nurses, and other health care providers in delivering palliative care,” Curtis said. “Stu’s remarkable leadership has helped UW Medicine take the lead in these accomplishments and put UW Medicine at the forefront of local and regional advances in palliative care.”

Read the entire 2013 UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence Annual Report.

For more information, please visit the new Palliative Care Center for Excellence website.


Education and Training 

UW regains top U.S. News rank in medicine; other areas get high marks

U.S. News & World Report ranked the UW School of Medicine as the nation's top educational site in 2015 for primary care, family medicine and rural health. Several of the school's other programs were listed among the top 10 nationally. The medical school also was identified as No. 2 in the nation in grant funding received from the National Institutes of Health and No. 1 among public institutions.

In its annual spring ranking of graduate programs, U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Washington programs in medicine, education, law, business and engineering among the top 26 in the country, with the UW School of Medicine rated No. 1 overall for primary care.

Medical schools are ranked generally in two categories, primary care and research. UW held the top primary care ranking for 19 consecutive years before placing second a year ago. This year it has regained the No. 1 ranking for primary care and also is ranked in the top 10 for research.

In addition, UW gained high marks for teaching in several medical specialties, including No. 1 in both family medicine and rural medicine, fourth in AIDS education, fifth in pediatrics, seventh in both geriatrics and internal medicine, seventh in bioengineering, third in genome sciences, and eighth in physician assistant programs.

Each year U.S. News ranks schools of business, education, engineering, law and medicine using two types of data the opinions of experts about program excellence and statistical information on the quality of faculty, research and students.

Read more in the U.S. News 2015 Best Graduate Schools issue online.

Read more in UW Today.

FHCRC announces 2014 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award winners

Andrew Adey
Andrew Adey

Thirteen graduate students from institutes throughout North America have been chosen to receive the 2014 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award sponsored by the Basic Sciences Division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC). Three UW students are among the 13 recipients selected on the basis of the quality, originality and significance of their work. The UW awardees are:

Alistair Russell
Alistair Russell

Andrew Adey, Ph.D. candidate, molecular and cellular biology: The haplotype-resolved genome and epigenome of the aneuploid HeLa cancer cell line

Alistair Russell, Ph.D. candidate, microbiology: Interbacterial antagonism mediated by novel antibacterial effectors of the type VI secretion system

Andrew Stergachis, Ph.D. candidate, genome sciences: Global measurements of human transcription factor occupancy: Insights into development and genome evolution

Andrew Stergachis
Andrew Stergachis

Nominations were solicited internationally; the winners were selected on the basis of the quality, originality and significance of their work.

The recipients, all advanced students at or near the completion of their studies in the biological sciences, will participate in a scientific symposium May 2 at FHCRC consisting of scientific presentations by the awardees.

The award, established in 2000, honors Harold M. Weintraub, Ph.D., a founding member of the Hutch’s Basic Sciences Division who in 1995 died from brain cancer at age 49. Weintraub was an international leader in the field of molecular biology; among his many contributions, he identified genes responsible for instructing cells to differentiate, or develop, into specific tissues such as muscle and bone.

The award recipients will receive a certificate, travel expenses and an honorarium from the Weintraub and Groudine Fund, established to foster intellectual exchange through the promotion of programs for graduate students, fellows and visiting scholars.

Read more online.

Opportunities for providing feedback about proposed medical school curriculum

Curriculum Graphic small

A discussion board is now open for comments, questions, feedback and discussion about the proposed medical school curriculum released on March 9. The discussion board can be accessed online through Catalyst.

The UW School of Medicine Curriculum Renewal Steering Committee is also hosting a series of listening sessions about the proposed new curriculum throughout the month of March. Sessions provide an opportunity for School of Medicine community members to give feedback, ask questions and provide their thoughts. Remaining listening sessions will be held:

  • Thursday, March 27: noon to 1 p.m. Health Sciences Bldg., D-209 (Turner Auditorium)
  • Friday, March 28: noon to 1 p.m. Health Sciences Bldg., T-733
  • Monday, March 31: 8 to 9 a.m. Harborview Medical Center, R&T 109/113 (To access video teleconference, please contact Sarah Shirley, sarahs23@uw.edu, for details)

WWAMI Regional News

Ted Epperly receives 2014 Idaho WWAMI Alumni Award for Excellence

Mary Barinaga, Idaho WWAMI Clinical Dean, Ted Epperly, 2014 idaho WWAMI Alumni Award recipient, and UW Medicine CEO and Dean of the School of Medicine Paul Ramsey
Barinaga, Epperly, Ramsey

Ted Epperly of Boise, Idaho, an E-76 Idaho WWAMI, was awarded the 2014 Idaho WWAMI Alumni Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Teaching, Leadership and Patient Care. His passion for healthcare reform and access to high quality, accessible and affordable healthcare for all people drives what he does on a daily basis.

Epperly was born in Nampa, Idaho, and is the eldest of five children. When he was 15, his youngest sister died which fueled his desire to become a physician.

Epperly received his bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, graduating magna cum laude, and attended medical school at UWSOM as an Idaho WWAMI student. He completed his family medicine residency training at Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Washington, where he served as chief resident. He then completed a family medicine faculty development fellowship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and is boarded in both Family Medicine and Geriatrics.

Throughout his career, Epperly has been active in leadership, patient care, and education. He served in the U.S. Army for several years, retiring as a Colonel in 2001. While in the Army, he taught medical students and residents, and also held all of the elected positions in the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians, including President. Epperly returned to Idaho in 2001, when he assumed the program director position for Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, where he now serves as president and CEO. He is a clinical professor of Family Medicine at UWSOM.

Epperly serves tirelessly in the state of Idaho, leading many healthcare committees and initiatives. He also is a respected national leader in healthcare, having served as the president of American Academy of Family Physicians, which represents the nation’s 103,000 family physicians. He is co-chair of the national Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative Center on Accountable Care. In 2012, he authored the book, Fractured: America's Broken Health Care System and What We Must Do to Heal It.

Idaho WWAMI thanks Epperly for his many years of excellent mentoring, teaching, leadership and patient care.

Timothy Robinson named Wyoming WWAMI program director

Timothy Robinson
Timothy Robinson

Timothy Robinson, Ph.D., professor of statistics at the University of Wyoming, has been named the Wyoming WWAMI medical education program director. Robinson has been the course coordinator for Medical Informatics and Decision Making for the last several years. He had served as interim director since Aug. 1, 2013, when he succeeded Matt McEchron who accepted a position at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix. As director, Robinson will provide leadership for the University of Wyoming WWAMI affiliated programs, including the UW School of Medicine first-year curriculum.

Robinson received his undergraduate degree in math and psychology from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and his master’s and doctoral degrees in statistics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg. His research interests include design of experiments, response surface methodology, categorical data analysis and applications in engineering, medicine and environment.

The University of Wyoming WWAMI program, a cooperative effort of the University of Washington School of Medicine, provides the first-year medical school curriculum and related outreach and educational efforts of the UW School of Medicine.


Upcoming Events

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

26th Annual Robert F. Rushmer Lecture, March 21

The (Radically) Changing Landscape in Biomedical Technology Innovation, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Friday, March 21, William H. Foege Auditorium (South Foege Bldg. Room 0S60), UW campus. The Rushmer lecture will be given by Paul G. Yock, the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Medical Sciences at Stanford University. As more affordable medical technologies from abroad enter the U.S. market, the U.S. will be forced to place a new emphasis on developing more cost-effective products. Yock will discuss the implications for training the next generation of medical technology innovators. Contact Shirley Nollette at 206.685.2002 or nolletts@uw.edu for more information.

Symposium on Membrane Biology, March 27 & 28

University of Washington-Kobe University Symposium on Membrane Biology, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday, March 27 and 28, Genome Sciences Building, William H. Foege Auditorium, Room 0S60). The two-day event features talks by scientists from both institutions and a joint UW, Kobe University graduate student poster session. Register online. For more information, visit the Symposium web page or contact Heather Hawley at hhawley@uw.edu or 206.221.5807.

The Brotman and Ragen Awards: Nominations due March 28

UW Medicine created two awards in 2008 to acknowledge exceptional volunteer leadership and to commemorate the end of its last fundraising campaign: the Brotman Leadership Award and the Ragen Volunteer Service Award. The awards are named after UW Medicine advocates Jeffrey H. Brotman and Brooks G. Ragen. The Brotman Leadership Award recognizes visionary leadership, while the Ragen Award recognizes outstanding service from volunteers, faculty and staff. Nominations are sought for the 2014 awards. Nominations are due Friday, March 28. If you have questions, please contact Lynn Hogan, chief advancement officer at UW Medicine, at 206.543.6865 or lhogan@uw.edu. (Please note that current UW Medicine Board members are not eligible to receive these awards.)

Earl P. Benditt Endowed Lecture, April 2

Epigenetic Mechanisms of Stem Cell Aging and Rejuvenation, 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 2, Health Sciences Bldg., T-739. The lecture will be given by Thomas Rando, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine. Rando studies muscle stem cell biology, muscle stem cell aging, muscular dystrophies, tissue and basic muscle cell biology. A special lecture dedicated to the memory and scientific legacy of Earl P. Benditt, M.D., professor and chair of the UW Department of Pathology, 1957-1981. Contact Juliana Hinch at hinchj2@uw.edu or 206.616.9343.

11th Annual Western Regional International Health Conference, April 4 - 6

Uncensored: Gender, Sexuality & Social Movements in Global Health, April 4-6, 2014, University of Washington, Seattle. Conference will cover social and political movements, diverse sexualities and sexual health, gender-based violence, reproductive rights, global discrimination against LGBTQ community, income inequality, and universal access to healthcare. Keynote speaker will be Stella Nyanzi, Ph.D., of the Makerere Institute of Social Research at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Her research covers the politicization of sexuality in contemporary Uganda. The conference is sponsored by the UW, the WRIHC, UW chapter of GlobeMed and the UW Department of Global Health. Register here. For more information, visit the Western Regional International Health Conference website or contact info@wrihc.org.

Paws-on Science recruiting researchers for April 4 - 6 Husky Weekend event

Paws-on Science: Husky Weekend at the Pacific Science Center is recruiting researchers to take part in its annual community outreach event, April 4-6. Paws-on Science, a partnership between the UW and Pacific Science Center, introduces families and the community to innovative research underway at the UW in a fun and accessible way. During the past four years, more than 1,100 UW scientists have shared their work through hands-on activities with nearly 47,000 adults and children. For more information, contact McCayla Butler at mcbutler@uw.edu or 206.543.1867.

23rd Annual Visiting Scholar in Cardiothoracic Surgery, May 2

How Coronary Artery Surgery Changed Our World, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 2, Health Sciences Bldg., K-069. The lecture will be given by Bruce Lytle, chair of the Heart and Vascular Institute, Cleveland Clinic. Lytle, a cardiothoracic surgeon, has earned international recognition for his innovations in cardiac reoperations, aortic surgery, coronary artery bypass grafting and valve surgery. He has been instrumental in developing and refining surgical techniques in all these areas. The Visiting Scholar lecture is presented by the UW Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. For more information, contact Emma Johansson at emmajo@uw.edu or 206.543.3093.

Summer Institute in Statistics for Clinical Research, June 23 - 27

The UW Department of Biostatistics will host the Summer Institute in Statistics for Clinical Research (SISCR 2014), June 23-27. The Institute consists of a series of half-day, one-day and one-and-a-half day workshops that introduce participants to modern issues in the design and conduct of clinical trials and the statistical analysis of clinical trial data. Topics, presented by experts in the field, include enrichment, design and missing data in randomized clinical trials, personalized medicine, and comparative effectiveness, among others. Online registration for SISCR 2014 is now open. Visit the Summer Institute in Statistics for Clinical Research (SISCR 2014) website for information about the Institute's Schedule, Modules, Instructors and other logistics. Contact Monica I. Feliu-Mojer at monicai@uw.edu or 206.543.5912 for more information. Email questions to siscr@uw.edu.

The Department of Biostatistics will also host the 19th Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics (SISG), July 7-25, 2014 and the 6th Summer Institute in Statistics and Modeling of Infectious Diseases (SISMID), July 7-23, 2014.

Continuing Medical Education 

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.


In the News

New MEDEX video features student-patient engagement

What does it take to become a physician assistant? Apart from the basic clinical skills of medicine, one must cultivate trusting relationships with the patients. The new MEDEX video follows three first-year Seattle PA students as they move from classroom theory to patient engagement. View the video on YouTube.

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ITHS Research Connector, a newsletter of the Institute of Translational Health Sciences

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Committee for Minority Faculty Advancement Newsletter

UW Medicine magazine

UW Medicine 2012 Report to the Community

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