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April 4, 2014

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

New IHME cigarette smoking prevalence study highlights need for targeted action

Dear Colleagues:

In my work with the American Cancer Society’s CEOS Against Cancer and as a healthcare professional, I place a high priority on reducing tobacco smoking. While smoking rates are declining in the United States, they remain high among the poor, according to a new study by the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

The study, “Cigarette smoking prevalence in U.S. counties: 1996-2012,” published March 25 in Population Health Metrics, demonstrates that people who live in counties in the South and in counties with lower median income are most likely to smoke.

The study was featured on the front page of The New York Times and in Time, USA Today and several regional news outlets.

The New York Times wrote that while previous data established that smoking was highest among the poor, IHME’s new analyses of federal smoking data show the disparity is increasing. According to IHME, only about one in 10 people smoke in the affluent suburbs of Washington, D.C., but in impoverished places like Clay County in eastern Kentucky, nearly four in 10 people smoke.

This study is a call for targeted cessation efforts and brings new light to a persistent health problem worldwide. At least 1.3 billion people in the world smoke tobacco and 14,500 die from tobacco-related illnesses every day, according to the World Health Organization (2007).

Without action, the tobacco epidemic will worsen significantly. WHO estimates that by 2030, tobacco could kill 8 million people a year, up from 6 million today.

I offer my thanks to the faculty, staff and trainees at the IHME, led by Christopher Murray, for continued outstanding work that is changing the face of health worldwide. The IHME’s Global Burden of Disease work provides a roadmap for improving global health via research, education and healthcare innovation.


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

Note: A coalition of organizations is sponsoring a multi-campus screening of the film Addiction Incorporated, a documentary about the tobacco industry. UW will air the film 5:30 p.m.  April 10 in Thomson Hall 301 ; Assistant Surgeon General Patrick O'Carroll will address the crowd. RSVPs requested.


Combatting evolution to fight disease

Molecular mechanisms that generate biological diversity are rewriting ideas about how evolution proceeds, with implications for treating disease, according to an article in the March 7, 2014, issue of Science magazine. The article written by Susan M. Rosenberg at Baylor College of Medicine and Christine Queitsch, UW assistant professor of genome sciences, said a fusion of molecular mechanisms with evolution is needed because cancer and infectious disease are evolutionary problems that could be attacked at the molecular level.

“Deep understanding of the mechanisms that generate variation at the molecular level invites the possibility of fundamentally new antipathogen and anticancer therapies: ones that block the ability to evolve, instead of (or in addition to) traditional chemotherapies that kill cells or stop them from growing,” the authors said.

For more on the story, see the article in Science.


Clinical Care 

UW Medicine and Capital Medical Center form new collaboration

Signing the agreement Friday are, from left, Michael Wiechart, CEO of Cappella Healthcare; Johnese Spisso, chief health system officer of UW Medicine; and Jim Geist, CEO of Capital Medical Center. Credit: Kim Blakeley
UW Medicine Capital Medical Center

UW Medicine and Capital Medical Center in Olympia have signed an agreement selecting UW Medicine as the healthcare system of choice for complex tertiary and quaternary care for Capital Medical Center patients.

This strategic collaboration, effective April 1, will provide Capital Medical Center 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 the South Sound region.

“Patient choice is the most important aspect of this association,” said Johnese Spisso, UW Medicine chief health system officer. “We believe it will enhance and expand patient choice and provide enhanced access to complex care and services provided by UW Medicine whenever needed.”

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

New emphasis on colon cancer screenings

Last month, the White House issued a proclamation signed by President Barack Obama recognizing March 2014 as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The proclamation encourages Americans to discuss colon cancer with their doctors and receive the recommended screening test.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States for men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It affects an estimated 148,000 Americans each year and claims more than 56,000 lives annually. In fact, 1 in 20 people will develop colon cancer at some time during their lives. Almost all colorectal cancer starts as a precancerous growth (polyp) that can be detected and removed during colonoscopy.

According to the American Cancer Society, half of all colon cancer deaths in the United States could be prevented if everyone followed recommended screening guidelines. Most people should start being screened for colorectal cancer at age 50, but people with a family history of colorectal cancer are at higher risk and may need to be screened earlier.

“A colonoscopy is currently one of the best ways to screen for colorectal cancer and the best way to prevent it from happening in the first place,” says William Grady, UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and medical director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. “By finding and removing polyps early, we can make colorectal cancer a preventable disease for most people.”

Watch Seattle Cancer Care Alliance’s 90 Seconds Closer to a Cure for an interview with Dr. Grady about colon cancer screening. Take a look also at the SCCA infographic, The One Thing That Could Save Your Life, to learn more about the benefits of colonoscopies. And see the recent story on a new test that uses DNA to detect colon cancer and precancerous growths.



Education and Training 

Match Day: An envelope opens and the near-future crystallizes

Juan Ortiz was matched with UC-Riverside. Credit: McKenna Princing
Juan Ortiz

On March 21, 222 medical students graduating from the University of Washington's School of Medicine matched to residencies in 32 states.

Of those graduates, 32 percent matched into residencies in the WWAMI program (60 in Washington, eight in Idaho, two in Montana, and one in Alaska and Wyoming). The percentage of students going into primary care specialties this year is 56 percent.

Six graduating students spoke candidly before the event about why they became doctors and shared their favorite or funniest medical school experiences: Juan Ortiz, surgery. Match: University of California, Riverside; Sarah Ordway, internal medicine. Military Match: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.; Isis Smith, internal medicine. Match: Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; Natalie Hale, internal medicine, and Ryan Wallace, psychiatry. Couple Match: Yale-New Haven Hospital; Sage Coe Smith, family medicine. Match: McKay-Dee Hospital, Ogden, Utah.

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

Institute of Translational Health Sciences launches Self-Directed Learning Center

The Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) offers a free online learning repository of courses. The courses are organized into a set of core competencies: research initiation, data analysis and management, and professional regulation and skills. Users at all levels of knowledge of clinical and translational sciences can take a course at a time and receive a certificate upon completion. Topics include Institutional Review Board, grantsmanship, statistical analysis, responsible conduct of research, and more.

“We saw a need to better manage and integrate our online educational content to ensure it is useful and impactful for the researchers we serve,” said Cathryn Booth-LaForce, ITHS senior faculty director and the Charles and Gerda Spence professor of nursing at the University of Washington. “As a result, we designed our new learning center around the end-user to provide a flexible, learner-centered educational experience.”

ITHS is one of 62 clinical and translational science award sites nationwide working to change how biomedical research and training is performed. The goal of ITHS is to improve the health for people throughout Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

Find out more about the new Learning Center on the ITHS website.

New seminar series kicks off UW Health Innovators Collaborative

The University of Washington’s Health Innovators Collaborative between UW Medicine and Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association is being launched with a spring seminar series exploring the profound changes in American healthcare.

The lineup: April 1: “Seismic Changes of Healthcare Necessitate New Approaches to Innovation: A National Perspective,” with Oren Lang-Furr, a partner at Ernst & Young serving their life sciences clients; April 22: “The Transformation of Healthcare: Forces, Directions and Implications” with Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the UW School of Medicine; May 13: “Demonstrating Value in Health Innovation: Lessons from Comparative Effectiveness Research” with Larry Kessler, Chair of UW Department of Health Services and former Director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA. June 3: “IT Can Make a Big Difference in Health: Why Hasn’t It?" With Peter Neupert, operating partner of Health Evolution Partners and former vice president of the Health Solutions Group at Microsoft.

The four lectures are free and open to the public but RSVPs are requested. The seminars are held in the William H. Foege Auditorium at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

These spring lectures are likely the beginning of a longer, more involved healthcare initiative, said Lee Huntsman, UW professor of bioengineering and president emeritus. The Department of Bioengineering is offering a spring companion graduate course to this lecture series, and organizers plan to evaluate the success of the seminars in stimulating conversation around the future of healthcare before deciding on further steps.

For more information, see the story in UW Today.

WWAMI Regional News

Coeur d’Alene family medical residency starts in June

There is renewed interest in family medicine among medical school graduates, and for the first time a group of them will do their graduate work in Coeur d'Alene. Kootenai Health will have six young doctors arrive in June for the inaugural class of its new Family Medicine Coeur d’Alene Residency program. The UW School of Medicine supports a growing network of such programs in the Northwest. The new Coeur d’Alene program joins 20 others in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

Read more in the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Training rural physicians in Miles City, Montana

WWAMI student Kacy Herron working in Miles City, Mont.
Miles City, Montana

The small town of Miles City (pop. 8,500), Mont., two hours from the nearest large city of Billings is where WWAMI student Kacy Herron is learning how to be a doctor. Admitted to Montana WWAMI in 2011 as a Targeted Rural and Underserved Track (TRUST) student, Herron spent two weeks in Miles City the summer before she started her medical school classroom work at Montana State University in Bozeman. Herron then spent another four weeks in Miles City the summer between her first and second year of classes doing RUOP, a four-week “Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program” immersion experience.

Herron, now in her third year, is back in Miles City as a WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE) student, where she will receive clerkship credit for outpatient family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry and chronic care over 18 weeks.

Herron’s lead preceptor, family physician Sue Gallo at the Billings Clinic in Miles City, a full- spectrum family medicine clinic, sees great benefit in training medical students: “Having students here helps keep me and my partners on our toes, and the students teach too—new studies they have read, a technique they saw used in their last rotation, etc. I feel strongly that the best way to get young new physicians into our communities is to participate in training them. It allows them an opportunity to see how care is provided here, feel confident that it is quality care, and decide if it is the type of environment they can see themselves working in...”

Medical student Kacy Herron, Montana WWAMI Clinical Coordinator Jay Erickson, and family physician Sue Gallo.
Medical Students

Herron said medical school has made for “a humbling and fulfilling journey” thus far, which very much includes her Miles City TRUST/WRITE experience.

“I am quite fortunate and honored to be the first Miles City TRUST student. Gallo and the many other members of the medical staff have really shown me what the true scope of rural medicine entails. Gallo is incredibly patient and down to earth with her patients -- and with me. She is a great mentor who has taught me the importance of humanism as well the technical skills necessary for creating a career in rural medicine,” said Herron. “She has also shown me how fun it can be to practice rural family medicine. In what other career can you provide care to a newborn baby and mom, and then walk down the hall to visit a sharp elderly woman going on 105 years old?”

Other teaching physicians who participate in the Miles City TRUST/WRITE program include Chris Cook (ob-gyn), Ed Young (pediatrics), Pat Grantham (family medicine), Shantell TwoBears (family medicine) and Christine Drivdahl (family medicine).

Read more about the WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE).

Read more about the Targeted Rural and Underserved Track (TRUST).

UW School of Medicine launches 'Next Generation WWAMI' in Spokane

Dr. Hollie Matthews examines an X-ray with David Lepez, who trained for several months in her Moses Lake, Wash., practice. He is now in residency training in family medicine.
Next Generation WWAMI

The University of Washington School of Medicine recently announced plans to establish Spokane as the center of an effort called "Next Generation WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho)."

“In recognition of the critical role that the Spokane community plays in the overall health of the state of Washington and the Inland Empire, it's time to make WWAMI-Spokane the next generation of innovation in medical education," said UW President Michael K. Young.

As part of ensuring the successful development of the Next Generation WWAMI program in Spokane, President Young will appoint an Advisory Council on Medical Education Access and Affordability to be led by former Gov. Daniel Evans, who signed the original legislation establishing the WWAMI program in 1971.

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



Upcoming Events

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

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, will include more than 60 speakers and 500 participants. The student-run 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.

Uncensored has amassed the biggest list of financial sponsors in the conference’s history, with more than 35 diverse health organizations providing support. See the full list here. The conference is organized by UW, student-run committee of the Western Regional International Health Conference, UW chapter of GlobeMed and the UW Department of Global Health. Register here.

Paws-on Science, April 4 - 6 Husky Weekend event

Paws-on Science, a partnership between the UW and Pacific Science Center, introduces families and the community to innovative research under way 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.

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.

A celebration to honor Marvin Turck's 50 years of service, June 4 

A celebration to honor Marvin Turck’s lifetime of service to the University of Washington will be held at the Harborview Medical Center Research and Training auditorium. Turck is an emeritus professor of medicine, who has been a faculty member in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1964 and has received the Department of Medicine teaching award so often that the award was renamed to the Marvin Turck Outstanding Teaching Award in his honor. At the national level, he served with distinction for 14 years as editor of The Journal of Infectious Diseases. For more information, contact Jason Gordon at jasong08@uw.edu, 206.616.4170.

Summer Institute in Statistics for Clinical Research, June 23-27 and July 7-23

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 to learn more. Contact Monica I. Feliu-Mojer at monicai@uw.edu or 206.543.5912 for more information.

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.

22nd Annual Principles of STD/HIV Research Course, July 21 - July 31, 2014

The two-week course has been offered since 1993 and more than 1,500 participants have attended. Each year, an average of 100 participants from approximately 25 different countries attend the course. The course duration has been limited to two weeks in order to encourage individuals who are establishing active research careers to attend.

Course faculty are international leaders in the field of STD/HIV research and come from the University of Washington as well as other research institutions in Seattle and across the globe. Faculty vary from year to year. A list of some prior course topics and faculty is available here. Applications are accepted until May 1. To register, go here.

Continuing Medical Education 

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.



In the News

Pilot program gives parents tools to boost babies' brains, Seattle Times, March 30 (UW Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences featured).

An unexpected discovery in the minds of autistic children, Wired, March 26. (UW professor of neurological surgery Robert Hevner comments).

How being ignored helped a woman discover the breast cancer gene, NPR, March 27. (UW professor of medicine and genome sciences Mary-Claire King featured).

Legislators' $25M boost for STEM scholarships may be magnet, Seattle Times, March 25. (UW gets largest share-38 percent).

La lumbalgia es la enfermedad mas incapacitante del mundo (Low back pain is the most disabling disease in the world, ABC Spain, March 25. (IHME data).

Smoking proves hard to shake among the poor, New York Times, March 24. (IHME study).

The surprising places where people are quitting smoking, Time Magazine, March 24. (IHME study).

Op-ed: Is the world more depressed?, New York Times, March 24. (IHME data).

A networked approach to fighting the TB pandemic, blog post in Scientific American, March 24. (Affliate professor of Global Health David Shermanworking at Seattle Biomed summarizes TB progress).

We are all mutants: On the hunt for disease genes, researchers uncover humanity’s vast diversity, The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 24. (Joshua Akey, associate professor of genome sciences, is quoted).

Washington Research Foundation to invest in researchers, help commercialize innovations, Geekwire, March 24. (News on a $30 million, five-year grant that will help attract researchers to several programs at UW).

Exact Sciences’ colon cancer test detects more tumors, Bloomberg, March 19. (UW professor of medicine Jason Dominitz wrote editorial that accompanied study in New England Journal of Medicine).

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