UW Medicine Online News webpage header

April 17, 2015

Table of contents

Message from Paul Ramsey

New book chronicles one of the great scientific quests of our time

Dear Colleagues:

In its eight year history at the University of Washington, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), led by Christopher Murray, UW professor of global health, has had remarkable worldwide impact. Among its many accomplishments, IHME’s leadership of The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study 2010 has been the most prominent.

GBD 2010 is the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of a wide array of major diseases, injuries and health risk factors. Hundreds of researchers in 50 countries have been involved in the study.

Epic Measures

The massive resulting database captures premature death and disability from more than 300 diseases and injuries in 188 countries, by age and gender, from 1990 to present, allowing comparisons over time, across age groups and among populations. Many countries are now using this data to change health policy, including Australia and Mexico.

I would like to bring to your attention a book just released that looks at the enormous undertaking of this study and the vision of Christopher Murray. The book is titled Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients by Jeremy N. Smith. In a recent New York Times article about the book, the Global Burden of Disease study is described as a single scientific project on a scale with the moon landing or mapping the human genome. The New York Times columnist writes, “This is big, big, big data. And it’s had an enormous impact.”

Epic Measures chronicles Christopher Murray’s strong, sustained commitment and the extraordinary task of a global network of researchers worldwide. Their work continues, broadening and deepening over time.

I recommend highly this terrific book. Please join me in thanking Christopher Murray and his outstanding team at IHME and elsewhere who have influenced policies to improve the world’s health.


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


Ellison Foundation invests $6 million in Alzheimer's disease research at UW

Dr. Thomas Grabowski, gesturing, and Tom Ellison at the University of Washington Integrated Brain Imaging Center. (Photo by Clare McLean)
Thomas Grabowski

Bellevue-based Ellison Foundation is investing $6 million in UW Medicine’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center for a project that could revolutionize care for Alzheimer’s. The gift will allow UW researchers to take important steps in using precision medicine for Alzheimer’s disease: from understanding the genes and other factors that drive Alzheimer’s, to creating or finding drugs to treat it, and finally to understanding how different patients respond.

“When we know more about the genetics behind Alzheimer’s disease and more about the drugs that may work on our patients, we’ll be able to move on to our second phase: drug testing in clinical trials. And the impact will be global,” said Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine. For more information, see the article in HS NewsBeat.

Study reveals possible new avenues for breast cancer therapy

The protein landscape of aggressive forms of breast cancer are examined by Robert Lawrence and Judit Villen. (Photo by Michael McCarthy)
Protein Sequence

An exhaustive analysis has been conducted of more than 12,000 distinct proteins present in an often aggressive and difficult to treat form of breast cancer, called triple-negative breast cancer. The results, reported in this week’s issue of Cell Reports, may help explain why these cancers often fail to respond to current drug treatments and may provide researchers with new targets for drug therapy.

Robert Lawrence, a UW graduate student in molecular and cellular biology, is the lead author of the article, titled “The proteomic landscape of triple-negative breast cancer.” Judit Villén, UW assistant professor of genome sciences, is the paper’s senior author.Triple-negative breast cancer, one of every five breast cancers, occurs more often in women under age 40 and in African-American women. For more information, see the article in HSNewsBeat.

False-positive prenatal genetic tests studied

Researchers look at accuracy of genetic screening tests. (Photo by Robert Carlos Pecino Martinez)
Genetic Screening

A prenatal blood screen for extra or missing chromosomes in the fetus might give false-positive results in genetic testing if the mother’s genome contains more than the usual number of certain DNA segments, according to research reported April 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article is part of a collection of papers examining screening tests now available to patients due to recent advances in genome sciences.

Researchers at UW, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute worked together to analyze false-positive results from the newer prenatal genetic screens. For more information, see the article in The Seattle Times.

Other research stories: 

Clinical Care

UW Medicine and Trios Health form strategic collaboration

Trios Health

UW Medicine and Trios Health, in Kennewick, Wash., have signed an agreement selecting UW Medicine as the healthcare system of choice for complex tertiary and quaternary care for Trios Health patients. This strategic collaboration provides Trios Health patients with prompt access to the highest level of care for advanced services while allowing the organizations to work together to continue improving the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of care in southeast Washington state.

The agreement also opens the potential for Trios and UW Medicine to discuss opportunities for ongoing collaborations for specific healthcare initiatives including oncology, women’s and children’s health, cardiac care, solid organ transplant, critical care services, clinical education and opportunities around the expansion of graduate medical education. The agreement became effective on April 1, 2015. For more information, see the article in HS NewsBeat.

Other clinical stories:

  • UW gets approval to perform face transplantsSeattle Times, March 27, 2015
    Officials at the University of Washington Medical Center soon will begin performing face transplants, hand transplants and more after the hospital received federal approval this week to conduct the life-altering operations.

Education and Training

2015-2016 Magnuson scholars named

David Roach, a scholar, plans to focus on the intersection of infectious disease and genetics.
David Roach

Six students representing each of the six schools in health sciences at UW were announced as the new recipients of the Magnuson Scholar Program in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Warren G. Magnuson. Each student will receive $30,000 to support his or her education in the 2015-2016 academic year beginning summer quarter.

This year’s recipients are Atriya Salamati (School of Dentistry), David Roach (School of Medicine), Jungyoun (Claire) Han (School of Nursing), Alenka Jaklic (School of Pharmacy), Anjuli Wagner (School of Public Health), and Sharon Borja (School of Social Work). The students were selected on the basis of their academic performance and potential contribution to research in the health sciences.

The program is funded from a $2 million endowment from the Warren G. Magnuson Institute for Biomedical Research and Health Professions Training. Sen. Magnuson was committed to improving the nation’s health through biomedical research and was instrumental in establishing the National Institutes of Health, Medicare and Medicaid during his long career in the U.S. Senate. For more information, see the student profiles on the Health Sciences Administration website.

WWAMI Regional News

Montana WWAMI Faculty Development Conference in Big Sky, Montana

Jay Erickson, KayCee Gardner, and Zach Meyers at the Big Sky Faculty Development Conference.
Jay, KayCee, and Jack

The fifth annual Montana WWAMI Faculty Development Conference, held March 20-22, in Big Sky, Montana, kicked off on Friday evening with four recent Montana WWAMI graduates sharing their journeys from medical school to becoming Montana practitioners. The Saturday evening dinner talk, “Frontier Healthcare in Montana,” by Dr. William Reynolds and his daughter, Janet Winnie, a family nurse practitioner, offered a fascinating glimpse into homestead life. The two offered a lively rendition of life in Montana 100 years ago, using the journal of Reynold’s grandmother, also a physician, to tell the stories.

The weekend plenary sessions included specifics about the upcoming curriculum renewal at the UW School of Medicine and sessions on teaching and learning, including a presentation on “Teaching challenges, avoiding conflict with challenging learners,” and a moderated student panel titled “What we can learn,” with third-year Montana WWAMI students Louis Bartoletti, Casey Cable, Bethany Glatz and Makayla Tisdell.

Speakers from the UW School of Medicine included Suzanne Allen, vice dean for Academic, Rural and Regional Affairs; Lauren Brown, second-year resident in internal medicine and part of the Clinical Educator Pathway; Thomas Greer, UW professor of family medicine and co-director of the Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST); Tom McNalley, UW assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine and clerkship director for rehabilitation medicine and chronic care; Peggy Schlesinger, Missoula WWAMI Track faculty member; Lynne Robins, UW professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education; and Martin Teintze, Montana WWAMI program director and first-year assistant dean.

The conference was hosted by the Montana Area Health Education Center, the UW School of Medicine and the Montana WWAMI clinical office. Many thanks to the event sponsors: Montana Primary Care Association, Montana WWAMI TRUST, Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Montana Academy of Family Physicians, St. Vincent Healthcare, Benefits Health System, St. James Healthcare, St. Peter’s Hospital, Montana Medical Association, Mountain Pacific Quality Health and the Montana Health Research and Education Foundation.


Addiction-medicine program director earns national recognition

Dr. Richard Ries
Richard Ries

Richard Ries, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Addictions Division, will be honored by the American Society of Addiction Medicine at the organization's conference this month. He will be recognized for his thoughtful leadership and deep understanding of the art and science of addiction medicine. Ries is editor-in-chief of The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine, the primary reference and clinical text about addictions.

 “Ours is the only psychiatry department in the country that offers an addictions track as an entry option for its residents," said Ries. "That fosters a pipeline of top notch fellows and drives all of us to stay at the top of our game.”

2015 UW Awards of Excellence recipients announced

Ann Downer (right)
Ann Downer

The University of Washington has announced this year’s Awards of Excellence recipients who are being recognized for achievements in teaching, mentoring, public service and staff support. Recipients include Irawati Lam, registered nurse, radiation oncology (Distinguished Staff Award); Taryn Lindhorst, associate professor, social work (Distinguished Teaching Award); and Ann Downer, associate professor, global health (Distinguished Contributions to Lifelong Learning Award).


Irawati Lam
Ira Lam
Taryn Lindhorst
Taryn Lindhorst

In 2010, Lindhorst was appointed the Carol LaMare associate professor of social work, where her knowledge, commitment and passion made the Carol LaMare Program a national model for innovation in oncology and palliative social work care. Read more about Lindhorst’s accomplishments. Downer, a pioneer in online learning, is founding director of the International Training and Education Center for Health within the Department of Global Health. Read more about Downer. Irawata Lam takes care of pediatric patients receiving daily radiation treatments, often times for six weeks. Read Lam's nomination letter.  For a list of all the award recipients, see story on UW Today.


Paul Nghiem named head of the Division of Dermatology

Dr. Paul Nghiem
Paul Nghiem

The Department of Medicine has appointed Paul Nghiem, UW professor of medicine and adjunct professor of oral health sciences and pathology, as head of the Division of Dermatology in the Department of Medicine and holder of the George F. Odland Endowed Chair in Dermatology. Nghiem is known for his outstanding research and dynamic patient-oriented teaching activities. He is also known as an excellent physician and role model to his trainees.

"Paul is outstanding in all the three major activities in academics: research, teaching and patient care," said William Bremner, UW professor and chair of the Department of Medicine. "Knowing how well he listens and follows through in such a positive way, I know that he will also be outstanding as a division leader.”

Nghiem is an expert on Merkel cell carcinoma and a leader in establishing the widely accepted guidelines for staging of this malignancy, describing prognostic features of the disease and studying the basic pathogenesis of the disease. He attended Harvard College and Stanford University Medical School, and he also earned a Ph.D. in cancer biology from Stanford. He completed a residency in dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Science in Medicine Distinguished Scientist Lecture “Guiding signals through anchored enzyme complexes,” with John D. Scott, UW professor of pharmacology, April 22

Intracellular signal transduction events are precisely regulated in space and time. This is achieved in part by a-kinase anchoring proteins (AKAPs) that tether a variety of protein kinases and phosphatases in proximity to selected substrates. AKAP targeting provides an efficient means to reversibly control the phosphorylation status of key substrates and contributes to the dynamic regulation of sophisticated cellular pathways. Using genetic, structural, electrophysiological and super-resolution imaging techniques Dr. Scott will show that AKAPs enhance the precision of cellular signaling. He will also show that aberrant AKAP signaling events contribute to the onset of diabetes, and comorbidities including hypertension and heart disease.The lecture is from 12-1 p.m., D-209, Turner Auditorium, UW Health Sciences Center. View the flier.

Joint meeting of Society for Education in Anesthesia and Association of Surgical Educators, April 24-26

The Society for Education in Anesthesia and the Association for Surgical Education are joining forces in a combined meeting at the Motif and Westin Hotel in Seattle, “Collaborative Education in an Ever-Changing World.” This joint meeting between two well-established groups of educators marks a new milestone in collaborative graduate medical education. Karen Horvath, UW residency program director for general surgery and associate chair for education in the Department of Surgery, and Karen Souter, UW residency program director and vice chair for education in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, will co-host the national event. As part of the meeting, four teams of national experts will partner with the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies at Harborview Medical Center and lead immersive simulation workshops that promote collaborative learning between surgeons and anesthesiologists. For more information, see agenda.

Department of Surgery’s 24th Annual Visiting Scholar in Cardiothoracic Surgery Lecture, April 24

Frank Hanley, endowed professor in child health at Stanford University, will speak on, “Delivery of surgical care for congenital heart disease: A two decade experience with an integrated multi-centered regional program.” The lecture is from 3:30-4:30 p.m., K-069, Health Sciences Building. View announcement on lecture.


Train-the-trainer workshops for first responders and public health professionals, May 8 and June 18

Washington first responders and public health professionals are invited to participate in upcoming train-the-trainer workshops scheduled to introduce you to the Response & Recovery App in Washington (RRAIN) Washington a (iPhone/iPad) mobile app developed at the University of Washington Health Sciences Library and aimed to be used by first responders in the state in response and recovery situations. Come learn how to use the app and website for your next Washington response and recovery situation. Seattle trainings: Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave., May 8, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and June 18, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Register to attend a class at http://rrain.org/register.php. Please share this opportunity with your colleagues. If you have questions regarding this training opportunity, contact hslrrain@uw.edu.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.

In the News
Articles which feature UW Medicine and Health Science  faculty staff, students and trainees.

  • Editorial: Med school marks step forward for WSU, Valley, Yakima-Herald Republic, April 10, 2015
    UW already has a Spokane program that admits about 40 students per year, and the university argued the state's money would be better spent expanding its Spokane presence. But WSU President Elson Floyd made a persuasive case, the editorial board writes.
  • Editorial: WSU leadership has taken school far in push for med school, Spokesman-Review, April 9, 2015
    "How did WSU persuade lawmakers to adopt a bill giving the Cougs a first step toward a new medical school? With determined leadership combined with a looming physician shortage, and a little luck," writes the Spokesman-Review Editorial Board.
  • How WSU beat odds in fight to create med school, Seattle Times, April 5, 2015
    WSU President Elson Floyd built bipartisan support and won approval from lawmakers to begin creating a new medical school. The UW's planned expansion in Spokane is noted throughout. [This story also appeared in the Yakima Herald-Republic]
  • First, do no harm to UW's top-ranked medical school, Olympian, April 2, 2015
    "Whether the Legislature decides to spend resources on WSU's new medical school or not, lawmakers must protect the nation's No. 1 public medical school with a 'do no harm' stance," writes former Gov. Dan Evans in an op-ed.
  • Inslee signs bill paving way for WSU medical school, Yakima Herald-Republic, April 2, 2015
    A bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday ends the 98-year prohibition against opening a medical school at Washington State University.
  • Inslee signs bill allowing WSU med school; funding still in flux, Spokesman-Review, April 2, 2015
    Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday that allows Washington State University to launch a new medical school in Spokane, but hedged when asked how much money the state should spend training doctors during the next two years.
  • Not enough money for UW, doctors: Health care leaders respond to budget proposals, Puget Sound Business Journal, April 1, 2015
    The budget proposals released by the House Democrats and Senate Republicans in the past week left some health care trade organizations and leaders worried about the future of Medicaid patients and medical education in Washington state.
  • Senate Republicans propose $5.5M less than House Dems for new WSU med school, Puget Sound Business Journal, March 31, 2015
    The Senate Republicans' proposed budget released today would allot significantly less to Washington State University's proposed medical school than the House Democrats' $8 million, which was included in their budget released last week.