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April 3, 2015

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Message from Paul Ramsey

A record Match Day for UW School of Medicine students

Dear Colleagues:

On March 26, 2015, graduating medical students across the nation received results of the 2015 Match that provides them with the name of the residency training program to which they have been assigned, or “matched,” through a national competitive process.

I am very pleased to tell you that UW School of Medicine students had an outstanding match year. A record number and percentage of students matched into a primary care specialty—60 percent. That percentage has grown steadily, year by year. In 2009, 46 percent of our students matched into primary care specialties; this increased to 52 percent in 2011 and to 60 percent this year.

Among the 215 seniors in the match, 37 percent will enter residency programs in the WWAMI region. A total of 71 students will spend at least their first residency year in the state of Washington, one in Alaska, 7 in Idaho, three in Montana and one in Wyoming.

There are many reasons for this success in retaining students in the WWAMI region and for the record-high percentage of students matching into primary care specialties. The UW School of Medicine has dedicated enormous effort toward creating and implementing special programs that advance careers in primary care and rural medicine. These include the WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE), an innovative program that places students in a rural setting for a sustained period of time for completion of clinical clerkships, and the Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST), which creates a continuous connection of medical students with a rural community for the duration of medical school.

As a result of the UW School of Medicine’s strong focus on primary care, rural medicine and healthcare for underserved populations, our medical students commit to these areas at a significantly higher percentage than other medical schools nationally.

I offer my congratulations and thanks to the graduating class of 2015 for your outstanding match and your strong commitment to serving our WWAMI region, especially in areas of significant need, such as primary care. You are a vital and inspiring part of our future. Thank you!


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


UW experts, biotech firm join efforts against colorblindness

A simulation of colorblindness: normal color vision, left, and red-green colorblindness, right. (Photo by Neitz Laboratory)
Color Blindness

The University of Washington signed a licensing agreement with California-based Avalanche Biotechnologies to pursue a therapy for colorblindness, which affects more than 10 million people in the United States. Color-vision experts Jay and Maureen Neitz, UW professors of ophthalmology, developed the breakthrough gene-therapy approach in their work with squirrel monkeys. See the full story at NPR.

New center to use novel method to screen chemicals’ toxicity

Elaine Faustman and Terrance Kavanagh will co-direct the new center.
Faustman and Kavanaugh

The Environmental Protection Agency is providing $6 million in seed funds for a Predictive Toxicology Center at the University of Washington. The center is intended to enable researchers to develop more accurate, higher capacity in-vitro models of organ-mimicking cell cultures to test chemicals' potential risk to humans. Elaine Faustman and Terrance Kavanagh, both UW professors of environmental and occupational health sciences, will co-direct the new center.

Researchers from the Schools of Public Health, Pharmacy and Medicine will collaborate to develop three-dimensional cell cultures for the kidney, liver, lung and testis to better model how a person would respond to a chemical exposure. William Altemeier, UW associate professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine, will lead the center's lung cell culture development. Kavanagh will co-manage the liver-testing model with David Eaton, UW professor of environmental and occupational health sciences. Edward Kelly, UW associate professor in of pharmaceutics, will manage the kidney cell culture project. For more information about the center, see the article in HS NewsBeat.

Study disfavors early imaging for new back pain in seniors

Jeffrey Jarvik, UW professor of radiology and neurological surgery.

Older patients with low-back pain who have imaging studies such as X-rays, MRI and CT scans of their spines within six weeks of the emergence of new pain tend to use more health services and incur higher costs but do no better one year afterward than those who have imaging studies later or not at all, according to a new study published in the March 17 issue of JAMA.

“Our study suggests that adults age 65 and older should not be treated differently than younger adults, with respect to low-back imaging,” said Jeffrey Jarvik, UW professor of radiology, health services and neurological surgery and the study’s lead author. For more information about the study, see the article in HS NewsBeat.

Clinical Care

UW Medicine, Skagit Regional Health and Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics have approved a three-way agreement to form a long-term clinical affiliation

Cascade Valley Hospital
Cascade Valley Hospital

UW Medicine will enter into a long-term affiliation with Skagit Regional Health and Cascade Valley Hospital. In addition, Skagit Regional Health will enter into a long-term lease of Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics, with Skagit Regional Health running the operations, finances, day-to-day management and governance of the hospital in Arlington and related clinics. The Board of Commissioners of Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics voted to accept the UW Medicine proposal on Wednesday, March 18, and the Board of Commissioners of Skagit Regional Health approved the plan on Friday, March 20. The next step will be preparation of a letter of intent, which will trigger negotiations on the details for a final agreement, a process estimated to take six to 12 months. For more information about the affiliation, see the article in HS NewsBeat.

New book identifies 44 surgeries ‘essential’ to human health

The book cover and its lead editor, Dean Jamison, UW professor emeritus of global health.
Essential Surgery

Everyone in the world should have access to 44 surgical procedures according to Essential Surgery, a reference book released today by the Disease Control Priorities Network (DCP3) in the University of Washington's Department of Global Health. Making these 44 procedures available worldwide could avert 1.5 million deaths per year, said Charles Mock, UW professor of surgery and book editor.

The book has 80 authors from 20 countries. Dean Jamison, UW professor emeritus of global health, served as the chief editor. Andreas Stergachis, UW professor of epidemiology and global health; Carol Levin, UW senior research scientist in global health; and Joseph Babigumira, UW assistant professor of global health, are co-authors on chapters covering family planning, post-abortion care and the costs and cost-effectiveness of surgical procedures and platforms. For more information on the book, see the article in HS NewsBeat.

Education and Training

UW residency match sets record primary-care percentage

Siobhan Thomas-Smith was selected for a UW-affiliated pediatrics residency at Seattle Children's. (Photo by Heather V. Wilson.)
Match Day

Sixty percent of the 2015 University of Washington School of Medicine graduating class will enter primary-care residencies this fall. Their participation in the National Residency Matching Program began months ago when the students submitted applications, attended interviews and ranked their desired destinations. This effort culminated on Friday, March 20, for 215 graduating UW School of Medicine students. The match results indicate that 130 are going into the primary-care fields of family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. Another 17 will be training in general surgery, eight in obstetrics/gynecology and seven in psychiatry. For more information about the Match Day results see the article in HS NewsBeat or read this week's message from Paul Ramsey.

UW Dept. of Global Health a leader in online learning

Michael Chung, UW associate professor in the departments of Global Health and Medicine
Michael Chung

The University of Washington’s Department of Global Health is a leader in the use of distance learning technologies for low-resource settings, according to a recent article in Techonomy. Through an initiative called eDGH, the department runs e-learning programs in more than 30 countries. Since 2007, when it opened two small program sites in Kenya and Haiti, the department has delivered classes to students in many of the world’s poorest places. Its flagship course on Clinical Management of HIV now reaches over 1,000 students globally each year.

In a typical program, students watch lectures and submit homework virtually, but still attend regular local classes for discussions with peers and professors, said Michael Chung, eDGH’s co-director and UW associate professor in the departments of Global Health and Medicine. This approach, often called “blended learning,” helps reduce program costs without compromising quality standards. For more information, see the article in Techonomy.

WWAMI Regional News

C. Scott Smith receives 2015 Idaho WWAMI Alumni Award for Excellence

C. Scott Smith, recipient of the 2015 WWAMI Alumni Award for Excellence
C. Scott Smith

C. Scott Smith, UW professor of medicine and of biomedical informatics and medical education, and based in Boise, Idaho, has been named the recipient of the 2015 WWAMI Alumni Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Teaching, Leadership and Patient Care. Smith, an E-76 WWAMI graduate, was integral in leading the UW’s Internal Medicine Boise Track, now a full three-year internal medicine residency program based at the Boise VA Medical Center.

Smith obtained his bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 and graduated from the UWSOM in 1980 as a member of the 1976 Moscow/Pullman class. He served as a physician and captain in the United States Air Force, where he was the chief of primary care at Griffiss Air Force Base. He joined the Boise VA faculty as program director in 1990. Smith is board certified in emergency medicine and internal medicine.

Smith is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the VA’s David M. Worthen Award recognizing outstanding contributions and achievements of national significance in the area of health care professional education. He has also received more than $6 million in peer-reviewed research and program funding.

Smith served on the national education committee for the Society of General Internal Medicine. He is the Governor for the Idaho Chapter of American College of Physicians and was inducted as Master ACP in 2012. In addition, Smith is the national physician consultant for the VA Centers of Excellence in Primary Care Education, Office of Academic Affiliations.


West African College of Surgeons confers Carlos A. Pellegrini with honorary fellowship

Carlos Pellegrini, UW professor and Henry N. Harkins chair of surgery
Carlos Pellegrini

Carlos Pellegrini, UW professor and Henry N. Harkins chair of surgery, was conferred with an honorary fellowship by the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) for his achievements in and service to surgical education. WACS promotes postgraduate education and training in surgery in West Africa.

Professor Olajide O. Ajayi, past president of WACS, quoted a former resident in the honorary fellowship citation saying, “It is the overall professional conduct of this great man which has most impacted us all - his patients, staff, trainees, and colleagues. It is the way he will listen at a moment of need, it is the unforeseen gesture of kindness, it is handwritten note that he is never too busy to write, and it is the confidence of knowing that he will always be your best advocate. This is what I learned from Dr. Pellegrini.”

Pellegrini is a world leader in minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgery and a pioneer in the development of videoendoscopy for the surgical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease and esophageal motility disorders, particularly achalasia. At UW Medicine, he developed the Center for Videoendoscopic Surgery, the Swallowing Center (now known as the Center for Esophageal and Gastric Surgery), and the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies.

Mary L. Disis receives prestigious 2015 research award from the American Cancer Society

Nora Disis, UW professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology
Nora Disis Apr15

The American Cancer Society is awarding Mary L. “Nora” Disis, UW professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology, one of its 2015 research awards for her work on “Vaccines targeting cancer initiation antigens to prevent colon cancer.” The $400,000 unrestricted award “provides flexible funding for full-time investigators in mid-career who have made seminal contributions to cancer research and who will continue to provide leadership in their research area.”

The awards are made through a highly competitive peer-review process and given for a period of five years with the possibility of one five-year renewal. Only 25 research professors are funded at any time. Disis, also a UW adjunct professor of pathology and obstetrics and gynecology, is a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and director of UW’s Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) and UW’s Center for Translational Medicine in Women’s Health.

Disis is an expert in breast and ovarian cancer immunology and translational research and one of the pioneering investigators who discovered that HER-2/neu is a tumor antigen. Her work has led to several clinical trials which evaluate boosting immunity to HER-2/neu with cancer vaccines.

For more on her research proposal on vaccines to prevent colon cancer, see the summary.


Bioethics Grand Rounds with Mark Daniel Sullivan, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and adjunct professor of bioethics & humanities, April 7

The Department of Bioethics & Humanities and the Ethics Advisory Committee at the University of Washington Medical Center are co-sponsoring this event with Dr. Sullivan, who will speak on “Is respecting patient autonomy enough, or must we promote autonomy as well?” 3:30-4:30 p.m., Health Sciences Building, T-747. View the flier.

Grand Rounds with Glenn Regehr, professor of surgery at the University of British Columbia, April 7

The Center for Leadership and Innovation in Medical Education (CLIME) is sponsoring this event with Dr. Regehr, who will speak on “The dangerous pursuit of independence: Implications for healthcare practice and education,” 12-1 p.m., Health Sciences Center, K-069. View the announcement.

Pioneering Ideas in Global Health discussion with Christopher Murray, UW professor of global health, April 13

Christopher Murray is director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation for the Department of Global Health. His Global Burden of Disease study is chronicled in journalist Jeremy Smith’s book Epic Measures. They will discuss the study and how it is changing the course of global health. The event is at 7:30 p.m., Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave, Seattle. For more information and tickets, please visit the Town Hall website.

The Graduate School’s Weight and Wellness series, April 8, 14, 21, 30 and May 5, 13, 19

Speakers include Adam Drewnowski, UW professor of epidemiology and medicine (April 14), Ellen Schur, UW assistant professor of medicine (May 13), former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin (April 30) and wellness celebrities Michael Pollan (April 8) and Kathy Najimy (May 19). All lectures are in Kane Hall, Room 130, 6:30 p.m.

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 we show that AKAPs enhance the precision of cellular signaling. We have also discovered 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.


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.

  • Antidepressants have sexual side effects in teens, too, Fox News & Business, March 24, 2015
    When teens take pills for depression and anxiety, doctors need to make sure they understand that sexual side effects are common with the drugs, a new paper advises. Dr. Cora Breuner, a professor at the UW who wasn't involved in the paper, is quoted.
  • How obesity became a disease, The Atlantic, March 24, 2015
    Weight loss is a big business and it comes with a built-in supply of repeat customers. And doctors have been involved in the business one way or another for a long time. Nita Mary McKinley, a psychology professor at UW Tacoma, is quoted.
  • UW applies for permission to perform face transplants, KOMO 4 News, March 25, 2015
    Local doctors could soon offer a surgery that is both rare and remarkable. The University of Washington Medical Center applied for permission to perform face transplants, a procedure that has been performed nine times in the U.S.
  • Scientists may have identified a gene that causes severe autism in women, The Verge, March 25, 2015
    A newly identified gene has been found to play a role in severe autism in women, as well as some men. Co-author Tychele Turner, a UW postdoctoral researcher in genome sciences, is quoted.
  • Cancer patients want more info about CT risks, Fox News & Business, March 25, 2015
    Some cancer patients would like more information on the health risks of their radiology tests, a new study found. Janet Busey of the radiation department at the UW is quoted.
  • Resuscitation outcomes no worse when families watch doctors work, Fox News & Business, March 25, 2015
    Letting family members watch while doctors work to bring a loved one back from the brink of death may not hurt patients' odds of survival, a new study suggests. Dr. Zachary Goldberger, assistant professor of medicine, is the lead author.
  • Let’s talk (frankly) about sex, New York Times, March 25, 2015
    A new approach uses openness and humor to make "The Talk" less dreadful for parents and children alike. The creator of the course, Julie Metzger, was inspired while she was a graduate student at the UW's School of Nursing.
  • Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk and debate over preventive surgery, WAMU-FM 88.5 American University Radio, March 26, 2015
    Mary-Claire King, UW professor of medicine and genome sciences, is one of the experts on a panel discussing genetic mutations and people's efforts to stop breast and ovarian cancers before they start. [King first speaks at 3:15.]
  • Dr. Jeffrey Duchin and his disease detectives are on the case(s), Seattle Times, March 26, 2015
    Pacific Northwest magazine profiles the UW faculty member whose job as Seattle and King County's chief epidemiologist puts him on the front lines of every scary germ and virus to hit the news.
  • No, Ebola is not mutating into a 'supervirus', CBS News, March 26, 2015
    The Ebola virus that is causing the current outbreak in West Africa is not mutating as quickly as earlier reports had suggested, a new study finds. UW microbiologist Angela Rasmussen comments.
  • As second twin awaits kidney donor, rural Washington family can only wait, Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2015
    After a mother and daughter underwent a 2009 kidney transplant at the University of Washington Medical Center, now another member of the Sunnyside, Washington, family needs a transplant and is waiting for a donor.

    Spokane Medical Education
  • Record number of UW med school grads chose primary care this year, Spokesman-Review, March 25, 2015
    About 60 percent of the University of Washington's medical school graduates this year, or 130 students, will pursue primary care residencies, a new record for the five-state physician training program.
  • Legislature OKs bill paving way for WSU medical school, Yakima Herald-Republic, March 26, 2015
    A nearly century-old restriction giving the UW the exclusive right to operate a public medical school in the state was removed by the Legislature, opening the door for a new WSU medical school. [This Associated Press article appeared in several outlets.]
  • New WSU medical school in Spokane gets Senate OK, Spokesman-Review, March 26, 2015
    Washington State University should soon have the authority to start a new medical school on its Spokane campus. The question now is, will it have the money to do that?