April 16, 2010
Table of contents
Message from Paul Ramsey
William Catterall to receive 2010 Canada Gairdner Award
The UW Medicine community of scientists is a remarkable constellation of talented individuals and groups. Within this outstanding community, Bill Catterall, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, is a superstar. I am delighted that his exceptional achievements will again be recognized worldwide when he receives the 2010 Canada Gairdner Award later this year.
The Gairdner Award, one of the world’s top awards for medical research, recognizes individuals whose work or contribution constitutes tangible achievement in the field of medical science. Bill was recognized for discovering the voltage-gated sodium channel and calcium channel proteins, which are responsible for generating electrical signals in the brain, heart, skeletal muscles, and other excitable cells. The work that Bill and his colleagues have done has resulted in new understandings of how these proteins work and has led to new therapies for epilepsy. In the future, the findings could lead to better medications for other diseases and conditions such as chronic pain and cardiac arrhythmias.
Bill is the tenth UW scientist to receive the Gairdner Award. Others are: Belding Scribner in 1969, Ed Krebs in 1978, E. Donnall Thomas in 1990, Lee Hartwell in 1992, Bertil Hille in 2001, Philip Green, Maynard Olson, and Bob Waterston in 2002, and Linda Buck in 2003. The Gairdner Award is an enormous achievement in its own right. It is also worthy of note that four of the UW recipients of the Gairdner Award have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. Of all Gairdner recipients worldwide, one-quarter have received the Nobel Prize.
Bill has been recognized by a number of other major honors for his work. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2008, he was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society in Great Britain. Among many awards, Bill received the McKnight Foundation Senior Neuroscience Investigator Award in 1998 and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research in 2003.
Bill has been called a “scientist’s scientist” and this is an apt phrase. Equally appropriate are the labels of “mentor,” “role model,” and “all-around good guy.” Bill is a wonderful person—modest, thoughtful, articulate, and a stellar and generous teacher and collaborator with trainees and peers. It is wholly characteristic of Bill that in commenting on receiving the Gairdner Award, he recognized his colleagues in the lab, colleagues in the department, colleagues who are chairs and senior scientists, and the UW for creating a research environment conducive to accomplishment.
Congratulations, Bill, for this well-deserved honor!
Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine,
University of Washington
Maternal deaths fall worldwide, IHME study says
The number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes has dropped by more than 35 percent in the past 30 years -- from more than a half-million deaths annually in 1980 to about 343,000 in 2008, according to a new study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington and collaborators at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.
The study, "Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980-2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5," appears April 12 in the online-first edition of The Lancet.
IHME's research shows that deaths have been declining at an annual rate of about 1.4 percent since 1990. Contrary to previous reports that have shown very little change in the maternal mortality ratio (MMR), the global MMR -- the number of women dying for every 100,000 live births -- declined from 422 in 1980 to 320 in 1990. It reached 251 in 2008 and is on pace for further declines.
Developing countries, in particular, have made substantial progress toward the Millennium Development Goal set in 2000 of reducing the MMR. Although only 23 countries are on track to achieve the target of lowering the MMR by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015, countries such as Egypt, China, Ecuador, and Bolivia have been achieving accelerated progress.
"If we can find out why a country such as Egypt has had such enormous success in driving down the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes, we might be able to export that success to countries that have been lagging behind," said Christopher Murray, UW Medicine professor of global health, IHME director and one of the report’s co-authors.
Beginning in 2007, researchers analyzed vital registration data, censuses, surveys, and verbal autopsy studies and created new methodological tools to generate the most accurate estimates to date of maternal mortality for nearly every country.
Researchers found that progress in reducing maternal mortality has been slowed by the ongoing HIV epidemic. Many of the countries with large populations affected by HIV have had the most difficulty reducing their maternal mortality ratio.
Eight low-income countries have seen annual increases in the MMR over the period 1990 to 2008, including Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, as have several high-income countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Norway. At least part of the increase in high-income countries appears to be due to changes in the way maternal deaths are reported. Mothers in the United States now die at a higher rate than in most other high-income countries, four times the rate of Italy and three times the rate of Australia.
"As we gather more data, we will have a better sense of how much of the rise in maternal deaths can be traced to better reporting and how much may be due to other factors," said Margaret Hogan, an IHME researcher and the paper's lead author.
Jay Shendure receives Prostate Cancer Foundation’s Young Investigator Award
Jay Shendure, UW Medicine assistant professor of genome sciences, is one of 21 research scientists in the United States and Canada to receive the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s 2010 Young Investigator Award. He received the Lowell Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award, named for the chair and co-founder of The Milken Family Foundation, a private philanthropy for education and medical research.
The award provides innovative scientists with three years of funding to pursue transformational research questions that may help men affected by prostate cancer. The 2010 Young Investigator Awards represent a new $4.5 million investment in the global cancer research community by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
"We are investing in the careers of the world's 'best of the best' in computer science, molecular biology, pharmacology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, and endocrinology to answer the challenges of discovering better treatments and cures for prostate cancer," said Howard R. Soule, executive president and chief science officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Shendure and his research group are working to eliminate technological obstacles to understanding the genetic events that cause the start and spread of prostate cancer. The Shendure lab has developed new biotechnology to efficiently identify disease-relevant variations in human genomes.
Shendure wants to design rapid, less expensive next-generation DNA-sequencing technologies for prostate cancer research. He hopes to provide pathologists and oncologists with enhanced resolution of genetic variation in regions of the genome that code for proteins, as well as for structural variation. This project has the potential to quicken the pace of identifying genes and molecular pathways for prostate cancer initiation, progression, and spread to other parts of the body.
Shendure is a 1996 graduate of Princeton University. He earned a doctoral degree in genetics in 2005 from Harvard University and a medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 2007. That same year he joined the faculty at the UW School of Medicine in the Department of Genome Sciences. As an M.D. /Ph.D. student in the Harvard lab of Dr. George Church, Shendure, along with his several mentors and fellow students, made major technological breakthroughs in DNA sequencing.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world's largest philanthropic source of support for accelerating some of the world's most promising research in prostate cancer.
Brian Johnston plays key role in new cell phone measure
We’ve all seen it – drivers talking on cell phones while speeding down the highway, or texting or reading messages when driving on city streets. But that may soon change in Washington state.
Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law Friday, March 26, a measure that makes it a primary offense to be caught using a cell phone while driving. The new law — which goes into effect in June — includes reading, writing or sending text messages with a handheld device.
Brian Johnston, UW Medicine associate professor of pediatrics and chief of the pediatrics service at Harborview Medical Center, decided last spring to join The Driven to Distraction Task Force of Washington, a group concerned about drivers talking on cell phones and texting. The group includes parents whose children have been victims of distracted driving, pediatricians and emergency physicians, crash-injury investigators and public health experts.
Johnston appears in a video created by the task force and speaks about how his work inspired him to get more involved in the topic. More specifically, while working one day last spring at Harborview, Johnston said he took care of several young patients involved in accidents related to cell phone use.
“It was clear to me that we needed to do more to change social norms around distracted driving,” he said. “I was pleased to find a group of like-minded individuals from all walks of life who shared this belief and were willing to contribute their time and talents to making our roads safer.”
Johnston and colleagues from the UW Medicine Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center served on the task force and contributed research.
What’s really changed with the new law? Johnston said making the ban on handheld cell phone use and text messaging a primary offense is what changes everything. “This means that law enforcement officers can ticket drivers for this behavior alone,” he said. “It's an important change.”
As a pediatrician, Johnston said he is most enthusiastic about a new ban on all cell phone use—both hand-held and hands-free—as well as texting for teen drivers under 18. “This is a high-risk group and also among the most likely to use a cell phone in the car,” he said. “They don't need any distractions when they are developing driving skills. This new provision in the law sends that message clearly.”
See a travel medicine doctor before you explore the world
With summer just a couple of months away, many are making plans to travel outside of the United States. Pamela Yung, family medicine doctor and travel medicine specialist at the UW Medicine Neighborhood Clinic in Factoria, outlines the benefits of seeing a travel medicine specialist prior to take off in an article published by the Journal Media Group, April 5.
“If you are planning a trip overseas, your checklist of preparations will include a passport, visas and foreign currency. It should also include an appointment with a travel medicine doctor, especially for travel in developing countries.
“The travel medicine appointment is designed to help you prepare for health risks in the areas you plan to visit. While it is a good idea to discuss your plans with your regular doctor — particularly if you have concerns about your fitness to travel or need extra supplies of medications — a travel medicine specialist works at a clinic that regularly dispenses vaccines for typhus, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis, as well as all routine vaccinations.
“Even before the visit, you can get started by going to the web sites of the Centers for Disease Control and Online Health Travel. These sites have valuable resources for international travelers, including a country-by-country list of recommended vaccines, warnings about malaria and other serious diseases, and alerts about certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America where the yellow fever vaccine may be required by international health regulations.
“Ideally, the travel appointment should take place at least a month before your departure date, since most vaccines take two to four weeks to be effective. Bring your itinerary and vaccination record so your provider can give you the best advice for your trip.”
For more information, call (800) 852-8546 or visit www.uwmedicine.org/uwpn.
Education and Training
UW tops national primary care medical school rankings for 17th straight year
The University of Washington again has been ranked first among primary-care medical schools in the country for the 17th consecutive year, according to annual rankings of graduate and professional programs provided April 15 by U.S.News & World Report.
The UW School of Medicine also continues to rank second among all medical schools, after Harvard, and first among all public medical schools in the amount of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for research. U.S. News lists the UW School of Medicine faculty as receiving $712.3 million in NIH funding in fiscal year 2009.
Academic specialties ranked in the top ten for the quality of teaching medical students were : Family medicine (first for 19th year in a row), rural medicine (first for 19th year in a row), AIDS (fourth), internal medicine (sixth), geriatrics (sixth), pediatrics (eighth) and women's health (ninth) The UW College of Engineering and School of Medicine's biomedical/bioengineering specialty was ranked fifth.
More information is available at http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/grad.
John T. Slattery is chair-elect of AAAS Pharmaceutical Sciences section
John T. Slattery, vice dean for research and graduate education in the School of Medicine, has been selected chair-elect of the pharmaceutical sciences section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was selected at this year’s annual meeting this past February in San Diego. He will become chair of the section at the association’s annual meeting, Feb. 17-21, 2011, in Washington, DC.
Slattery has been in his current position at the UW School of Medicine since October 2005. Prior to that he was the associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Indiana. He was also a professor of medicine, biology, pharmacology and toxicology, in addition to his administrative position.
Before moving to Indiana in 2003, Slattery was a professor of pharmaceutics in the UW School of Pharmacy and a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in addition to his role in the Graduate School. From 1997 to 2002, he directed the UW's Office of Scholarly Integrity. He was a member of numerous university-wide committees and chaired the Animal Care Committee in 1985-86.
Slattery came to the UW in 1978 as an assistant professor of pharmaceutics. From 1982 until 2002, he also held an adjunct appointment in the School of Medicine's Department of Anesthesiology.
He earned a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from the University of Texas at Austin and his doctoral degree in pharmaceutics from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. AAAS publishes the journal Science.
Tyler L. Quest named 2010-2011 Magnuson Scholar
Tyler L. Quest, a UW medical student who is completing his first year at the University of Wyoming, has been named a 2010-2011 Magnuson Scholar. He is one of six health sciences students to receive the UW’s highest honor.
The Magnuson Scholars are selected on the basis of their academic performance and their potential contributions to research in the health sciences.
Quest is interested in research on the impacts of diabetes and obesity on fetal development, as well as the prevention of diabetes and the possible need for dialysis.
During his undergraduate education at the University of Wyoming, Quest became involved in research on the impacts of diabetes and obesity on fetal development. He also spent his summers working as a dialysis technician with patients at the Wyoming Kidney Center.
As a medical student, he continues his research on diabetes and hopes to develop new prevention methods for diabetes and obesity. Quest, a member of the Potwatomi nation, is also interested in working on Native American health issues.
The five other health sciences Magnuson Scholars are: Elizabeth K. Babler, School of Nursing; John D. Chapman, School of Pharmacy; Gregory P. Levin, School of Public Health; Carrie A. Moylan, School of Social Wok; and Amir Seifi, School of Dentistry.
The Magnuson Scholars program was established in the name of the late U.S. Sen. Warren G. Magnuson. The senator was committed to improving the nation’s health through biomedical research and was instrumental in establishing the National Institutes of Health and Medicare and Medicaid during his long career in the United States Senate.
School of Medicine Faculty Development Workshop, April 20
Giving Feedback to Learners in Difficulty, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, April 20, UW South Campus Center, Room 316R. Elizabeth Morrison, former associate dean, University of California-Irvine School of Medicine, is the guest presenter. The workshop is free to all UW School of Medicine and Health Sciences faculty members. Registration is required. The event is sponsored by the Department of Medical Education & Biomedical Informatics and the Office of Faculty Development.
Bioethics Grand Rounds, April 20
Why Do Families Request “Futile” Life-Sustaining Treatments? by Sarah E. Shannon, UW associate professor of biobehavioral nursing and health systems, and adjunct associate professor of bioethics and humanities, 4:30 to 5:30 p .m., Turner Auditorium, D-209 Health Sciences Building. Reception to follow. For more information, contact 206.543.5145 or email@example.com.
8th Annual Western Regional International Health Conference, April 23-25
War and Global Health: Transforming Our Professions, Changing Our World, Saturday through Monday, April 23-25, UW Husky Union Building. The conference will frame war prevention and reduction as a legitimate area of study and practice within global health. The keynote speaker will be Chris Hedges, journalist and author of War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. The conference is co-sponsored by more than 20 universities in the Western United States and Canada. To register or for more information, visit www.wrihc.org or contact Daren Wade, director of the Global Health Resource Center, at 206.543.6450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2010 John Butler Endowed Lecture and Hudson chair celebration, April 26
Environmental Genomics and Human Health, by David Schwartz, provost and director of Center for Genes, Environment and Health, National Jewish Hospital, Denver, Colo., 4 to 5 p.m., Orin Smith Auditorium, UW Medicine Research, Lake Union, 815 Mercer Street. Following the lecture, from 5 to 7 p.m., UW Medicine and the American Lung Association in Washington will celebrate the creation of the American Lung Association-Leonard D. Hudson, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Speakers will be William Bremner, UW Medicine professor and Robert G. Petersdorf Endowed Chair in Medicine; and A. Bruce Montgomery, chairman of the Centennial Research Campaign, American Lung Association in Washington. For more information, contact UW Medicine Advancement at 206.543.7873 or email@example.com.
4th Annual Science in Medicine Lecture, April 29
Genome-phenome correlation using healthcare-derived biospecimens and phenotypes derived from Electronic Medical Records, by Daniel R. Masys, professor and chair of biomedical informatics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, April 29, Hogness Auditorium, A-420 Health Sciences Building. The lecture will be televised at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, WSU Riverpoint Campus, Harborview Medical Center and the University of Alaska. For specific room numbers, visit the 2009-2010 Science in Medicine web site, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 206.543.8319.
Medical Education Research & Scholarship Forum, May 3
John Medina, author of Brain Rules and UW affiliate professor, Department of Bioengineering, participates in an informal discussion, noon to 1:15 p.m., Monday, May 3, South Campus Center Room 303. Brown bag lunch. Questions: email@example.com.
Join the UW Medicine ‘March for Babies’ team, May 15
Make your plans to walk with your UW Medicine colleagues in the "March for Babies" on Saturday, May 15, at Seattle Center. Sponsored by the Greater Puget Sound March of Dimes, this 3½-mile walk brings together 10,000 people for the common goal of giving every baby a healthy start to life. The event chair is Stephen Zieniewicz, UW Medical Center executive director.
To be part of the March for Babies team, register at www.marchforbabies.org (click on "join a team" and search for UW Medicine). Please select your T-shirt size. After you set up a personal profile, you can use the web site to send e-mail and e-cards, inviting family and friends to walk with you and be your sponsors. For more information, contact Sarah Arkoosh at 598-1833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the News
UW Medicine magazine now available online
The latest issue of UW Medicine magazine is now available online and in print. The biannual magazine for UW Medicine alumni and friends includes features about the doctor shortage, genomic medicine, and MEDEX care in the WWAMI region, as well as the annual Report to Donors.
Media coverage of UW Medicine
Online News Archives
UW Medicine web site