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May 30, 2014

Table of contents


Message from Paul Ramsey

UW School of Medicine Peer Support Program to launch in August

Dear Colleagues:

In my September 20, 2013, message, I described the progress of the UW School of Medicine Wellness Committee, charged to assess and advance wellness community-wise. The committee has done an outstanding job of advancing a culture of wellness through offerings like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and other education and outreach activities and forums. I am pleased to inform you that starting August 1, a School of Medicine Peer Support Program will augment existing programs.

Peer support is a vital part of wellness in medical settings where stress levels can be high. Nationally, we know that burnout is prevalent among healthcare professionals. Burnout negatively impacts personal and professional satisfaction and leads to more medical errors, riskier prescribing profiles and less empathy. Peer support programs initiated in other academic medical settings appear to be an effective strategy to help alleviate stress and associated burnout for faculty and staff.

Peer support offers a safe way for clinicians impacted by adverse events, medical errors, litigation or other workplace stressors—large and small—to talk about their experiences and emotions with someone whose empathy comes from having worked in a comparable setting. Peer support does not offer therapy, but rather provides a network of faculty clinicians who offer a listening ear to colleagues experiencing stressful situations. Peer supporters receive training in how to listen and respond as well as information about resources.

Peer support is free, private and confidential. It is not punitive, regulatory or mandatory. The program is designed to supplement rather than replace existing resources for addressing emergencies. To date, a number of individuals in the School of Medicine—both clinicians and basic scientists—have expressed their interest in serving as peer supporters and have gone through preliminary training. Additional in-depth training will be offered in September. If you are interested in being trained to provide peer support or have questions about the program, please contact Claudia Finkelstein (claudiaf@u.washington.edu).

Other faculty and staff wellness resources currently available include: the Employee Assistance Program with a UWellness section, the Seattle Children’s Hospital Work Life Balance and Wellbeing Committee, faculty development workshops (UW NetID required for log-in) on achieving work-life balance, the UW Medicine Health and Wellness web page, and other resources. For medical students and residents, a growing number of resources are available as well.

Many individuals have worked hard to establish the UW School of Medicine Peer Support Program. I would like to thank in particular Claudia Finkelstein, who has been a tireless driver of wellness support at UW Medicine. In addition, Larry Robinson, departing vice dean for graduate medical education and clinical affairs, has been a strong advocate for the peer support program and for wellness activities in general. Thank you to these two individuals and to the many others who have come together to create this important source of support for busy clinicians.


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 SOM establishes new Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease

Michael Gale, Jr.
Michael Gale, Jr.

The UW School of Medicine has announced the establishment of the Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease (CIIID). Research activities at the new center — directed by Michael Gale, Jr., UW professor of immunology and adjunct professor of global health and microbiology, and affiliate investigator of the clinical research division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center — will focus on innate immunity, which represents the body’s processes of immune recognition and response programming that establishes effective immunity and immune regulation.

The field of innate immunity is a relatively new area of immunological research, but has already been recognized as an area of immense importance in understanding how early programming of the immune system ultimately impacts outcomes of infection, autoimmunity, and immune diseases. The development of new therapeutics targeting innate immunity have the potential to make a major impact on the ability of clinicians to treat a wide variety of infectious and inflammatory diseases, and autoimmunity including neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

With financial support from the UW School of Medicine, CIIID will provide a formal infrastructure for innate immunity research, development, and training activity currently not available at the UW. The Center will provide a centralized hub in which faculty from across a spectrum of disciplines can work collaboratively to advance basic concepts and improve clinical application of innate immunity research. Importantly, the Center will also participate to recruit new UW faculty to further enhance research expertise within the Center’s scientific community.

“This new Center will be a focal point from which scientists interested in innate immunity and immune disease can effectively cooperate, develop collaborative projects, utilize shared core services, and compete for high synergy grant funding,” said Michael Gale. “Scientific advances made in the burgeoning field of innate immunity have the potential to revolutionize how infectious diseases, wound trauma, and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are treated in the clinic.”

In addition to providing infrastructure for basic and translational research, educational training will also be a large component of CIIID. As innate immunity is coming to the forefront of our understanding of how the body responds to infection, trauma, and environmental insults, more clinicians and research scientists across a broad range of disciplines- infectious disease, autoimmunity, surgery, vaccinology, therapeutics, molecular genetics, pathology, immunology, biochemistry, pharmacology, molecular medicine, rheumatology, and bioinformatics/computation modeling- all will need to be trained in the basic concepts of the field.

Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, executive vice president for Medical Affairs, and dean of the UW School of Medicine said, “Translational research, bringing science into the clinic to improve the health of the public, is at the heart of UW Medicine. The Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease will be housed at our South Lake Union site, which has been designed to promote interdisciplinary research activity, in this case immunology, pathology, infectious disease, and several research groups focused on autoimmune diseases and inflammation. Michael Gale is already very well recognized in the international innate immunity community, is far advanced toward introducing new treatments into the clinic, and is exactly the right leader for this new enterprise.”

The Center will have a large focus on translational research efforts to develop new therapeutics that target innate immunity. The CIIID will link with the UW Center for Commercialization and local biotech to leverage innate immune-based discoveries and technology to transfer into product development pipelines.

For more information on the CIID, contact Elizabeth Hunter at elh415@uw.edu or 206-616-3192.

UW professor awarded Life Sciences Discovery Fund grant

Karol Bomsztyk, UW professor of medicine, has received a Proof of Concept grant from the Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) to continue work on developing a tool for rapid sample preparation for chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, which are used to elucidate the biology of major diseases and inform development of drugs to treat those diseases.

In addition, the LSDF has awarded four other organizations in Washington with grants that total of $1 million to accelerate maturation of promising health-related technologies from ideas into commercial products. The other new Proof of Concept grants aim to improve the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, leukemia, and Parkinson’s disease, and help people quit smoking permanently.

In addition, the LSDF announced a $300,000 Entrepreneur Mentoring Program grant to the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association (WBBA) to launch a statewide advisory network to train the next generation of entrepreneurs and help early-stage companies achieve commercialization success.

Read more on the LSDF site.

Nearly one-third of the world’s population is obese or overweight

Today, 2.1 billion people—nearly 30 percent of the world’s population—are either obese or overweight, according to a new, first-of-its-kind analysis of trend data from 188 countries. The rise in global obesity rates over the last three decades has been rapid, substantial, and widespread, presenting a major public health epidemic in both the developed and developing world.

The study, “Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 19802013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013,” was conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and published in The Lancet on May 29. Read more.



Clinical Care

Rick Goss appointed Director of Quality Metrics Reporting

Rick Goss
Clinical Goss

J. Richard (“Rick”) Goss, UW professor of medicine and associate dean of the UW School of Medicine, has been appointed Director of Quality Metrics Reporting for UW Medicine.

Goss has been medical director of Harborview Medical Center since 2008. Under his guidance, the Patients are First dashboard has become the primary tool for quality reporting across all UW Medicine entities.

As UW Medicine moves into accountable care arrangements, the need for quality reporting is even greater. UW Medicine is fortunate to have Goss in this new role. He will continue to serve as Harborview’s medical director and will also continue to pursue his clinical practice at Harborview’s Adult Medicine Clinic.


UW dietitian discusses plant-based diets for MS patients

Fatigue was lower and quality of life improved for people with multiple sclerosis who adopted a year-long, plant-based diet low in saturated fat, according to recently presented research.

The unpublished findings from Oregon Health & Science University were shared at a neurology conference in early May. While the study sample was small (49 people), its results are so encouraging that people with the condition may be motivated to try it, said Anne Linge, a registered dietitian who consults with patients at UW Medicine’s Multiple Sclerosis Center.

“Quality of life is huge with people who have MS because fatigue is so debilitating. People who try this diet might experience diminished symptoms,” she said.

Read more in UW Medicine/Health Sciences NewsBeat.

Device repairs faulty heart valve without surgery

Catheter-based technology is making mitral-valve repair available to people who cannot undergo heart surgery. Dero Murphy, 89, a recent recipient of the MitraClip, called the procedure's effects "a miracle."

Mark Reisman, UW clinical professor of medicine, and Catherine Otto, UW professor of medicine, J. Ward Kennedy-Hamilton Endowed Chair in Cardiology and director of the Heart Valve Clinic at the UW SOM, explain the device's rationale and its benefits in a King 5 feature story.

Read more at the King 5 site.


Education and Training

Forging academic partnerships and programs to improve global health

Judith Wasserheit
Judith Wasserheit

Judith Wasserheit, vice chair of the Department of Global Health, and chair of the board of directors of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), talked with the journal International Innovation about the consortium’s work around the world.

About the work of the CUGH, Wasserheit said, “CUGH was founded in 2008 to harness, support and promote the capacity of university-based global health programs to transform health around the world. Across the US, and in many other countries, we have seen explosive growth of interest in global health among students and, as a result, the blossoming of global health programs at universities.”

She went on to focus on the unique role of universities in promoting global health: “…they bring together an incredible array of expertise and experience across disciplines, and they have tremendous potential to shape the future by working with young people in education and training. The leading research universities add the third leg to the stool and are leading forces in the creation of new approaches and technologies to solve the world’s major problems and certainly improving health globally is one of these.”

Read the full interview with Dr. Wasserheit on the UW site.

Fogarty Scholar Paul Drain helps accelerate disease diagnoses in South Africa

As a UW medical student on a Fogarty Fellowship in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2005, Paul Drain worked with AIDS patients under the care of Wafaie Fawzi, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

After returning the United States and receiving a certificate of completion from the UW Global Health Pathway, Drain published a practical reference guide for students called Caring for the World: A Guidebook to Global Health Opportunities.

Drain is currently using his second award from the Fogarty's Global Health Program for Fellows and Scholars to assess point-of-care diagnostics that can short-circuit delays in care for AIDS patients in South Africa. One is a urine test for TB that resembles a home pregnancy kit; the second is a modular CD4 cell counter. Both provide results in 20 minutes.

There are more opportunities than ever before to participate in global health and they're easier to access, noted Drain. "Young people are thinking more globally than generations before. They want to diversify their training, see different types of diseases," Drain concluded. "Fogarty's support has allowed me and many other people to continue doing global work. Without their support a lot of this wouldn't be possible."

Read more about Drain’s work at the Fogarty International Center site.



WWAMI Regional News

WWAMI students visit Colville for rural medicine experience

Stephanie Fosback talking to students on the bus ride to Colville

Every year, John McCarthy takes a group of eastern Washington and Idaho WWAMI medical students on a road trip. McCarthy is one of two UW School of Medicine (UWSOM) assistant regional deans for eastern and central Washington, including Spokane (the other is Darryl Potyk), and he’s an energetic promoter of rural medicine. This year’s visit was 70 miles north to Colville, with 20 WWAMI students from Moscow/Pullman joining a dozen from Spokane. The excursion was funded by the Friends of WWAMI Spokane.

Pullman internist Stephanie Fosback, a UWSOM graduate and Colville native, gave a presentation regarding the need for more rural doctors. “I wanted to work in an underserved area and also have the chance to teach,” Fosback said. “And now I do some outpatient work, I do some work in the ICU and I love the variety.”

Fosback’s teaching includes precepting third-year medical students during their outpatient internal medicine rotation. This spring, she and her colleagues are hosting an internal medicine resident for a month. In 2015, they will host a third-year medical student for four months as part of the WRITE (WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience) program.

When the bus reached Colville, the first destination was Hearth and Home, a company that makes fireplaces and other heating devices. “I want them to see the types of industry that drive small-town economies like Colville’s,” McCarthy said.

The next stop was Providence Mount Carmel Hospital for a brief tour and then lunch at the Garden Homes Clinic, where the students ate with two local doctors and the three family medicine residents associated with Colville’s Family Medicine Rural Training Track (RTT) residency, the oldest such program in the nation.

The students heard from third-year resident Matt Kaiser and second-year resident Paul Gloe, who are doing their training in Colville, and first-year resident Mo Campbell, who is based in Spokane this year but will move north to the Stevens County town in September.

Campbell, a native of Ely, a small town in northern Minnesota, said she has long known that she wanted to work in a small town and was recruited to apply for the Colville residency. “I came here because primary care is really valued in the Northwest,” she said. “This residency is known for the range of opportunities available to new doctors.”

Also at the table were Katrina Gardner, a North Dakota native who recently finished her Colville residency and has stayed in the area to practice, and Kal Kelley, a Montana native and former Colville resident who started his medical career in eastern Oregon.

The five doctors shared stories about the challenges and joys of small-town medicine. They also talked about their roles as visible people in a small town, about trying to maintain some sense of private life and about the professional and personal isolation they sometimes feel.

First-year UWSOM student Cyrus Haselman said he was impressed enough by the Colville residency that he might look into it when it’s time for him to consider residency training. If he does, he may find the Colville residency is unusually competitive as far as rural training track (RTT) programs go. Campbell said the RTT received 100 applications for the newest residency opening, which has been filled by an Arizona native with a background in international medicine who will start the first year of his residency in Spokane in the fall.



  • The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) has awarded the UW Institute for Protein Design (IPD) an $8 million grant to launch the WRF-IPD Innovation Fellows Program, which will support research partnerships between the IPD and other Seattle-area research institutes or UW departments. Read more at the IPD site.

  • Ron Maier, UW professor of surgery and chief of surgery at Harborview Medical Center, has been named a recipient of the 2014 UW Medicine Award for Excellence in Mentoring Women. As director of a premier surgical trauma fellowship, Maier has supported and mentored women in a field previously dominated by men; 35 percent of the fellows in this program have been women. His successful mentees include 3 professors and an associate professor, as well as several junior faculty and surgeons in private practice. One letter writer commented, “He probed our aspirations and plans for the future and went out of his way to enable us to achieve our best potential.”

  • Jonathan Drezner, UW professor of family medicine, received the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) Lifesaving Research Award in a ceremony in New York City. This award recognizes exceptional dedication and work in research aimed to improve knowledge regarding preventing sudden death in sport. Read more at the KSI site.

  • Farid Moussavi-Harami, UW acting instructor/senior fellow in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, has received the $20,000 Perkins Coie 2014 Award for Discovery. Moussavi-Harami plans to use the award to continue his research in connection with developing a novel mechanism to treat cardiac cell contraction that will have fewer side effects, while strengthening and improving overall patient health and survival. Read more at the Perkins Coie site.

  • John Clark, UW professor and chair of the Department of Biological Structure, has been elected as the 2015-16 president of the Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology (ARVO). ARVO is the largest vision research organization in the world with an international membership of nearly 13,000 in 80 countries. With blindness and vision impairment affecting nearly 300 million people worldwide, ARVO is dedicated to research that can improve vision and prevent blindness. Read more at the ARVO site.

Upcoming Events

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

Learn about NIH study review, June 12

The Institute of Translational Health Science’s next Career Development Series seminar will take place on Thursday, June 12, 2014, from 3 to 4 p.m. Paul Martin, UW professor of medicine, will leverage his experience as a seasoned NIH grant reviewer, including his tenure as chair of the Cancer Immunopathology and Immunotherapy Study Section, to provide insight into the workings of NIH study sections. Martin will discuss the fundamentals of grant review, including an overview of study sections, and grant scoring. The likelihood of a successful grant application is increased by a thorough understanding of the review process. The seminar is free and open to the public, although an RSVP is requested. Read more.

Summer Institute in Global Health, June 23

The Global Health Summer Institute will be offering condensed courses that are open to both students and the public via either UW tuition (for credit) or a fee-per-course (non-credit) basis. Classes start June 23. A list of courses is available.

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.

Workshop: Surviving & Thriving During the Research Years, July 15 & 18

The annual UW Department of Medicine Workshop on Surviving & Thriving During the Research Years is a 2-day course covering skills necessary for academic success, such as grant writing, scientific writing, oral presentation, job negotiations, and more. The course is designed for research fellows and is open to fellows and junior faculty from all departments. A light breakfast and lunch will be included to facilitate informal fellow-fellow interactions. There is no charge for attendance at the course, but registration is required. Read more.

Continuing Medical Education 

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.



In the News 

  • Research on wellness of elderly with chronic disabilities, UW Medicine/Health Sciences NewsBeat, May 20, 2014. Ivan Molton, UW assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine, recently received a five-year grant to promote healthy aging among people with long-term disabilities, specifically multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and post-polio syndrome.
  • Medical apps help patients take control of their health, UW Medicine/Health Sciences NewsBeat, May 15, 2014. Mobile apps, including several emerging at UW, ingeniously exploit technology and bring a new realm of medical benefits to patients.
  • Telehealth services extend physician expertise to remote areas, UW Medicine/Health Sciences NewsBeat, May 15, 2014. “It’s an incredibly exciting time,” said John Scott, medical director of Telehealth for the University of Washington. “It feels a little like a gold rush: a lot of attention and resources being put into mobile health apps. I think this will eliminate big barriers to getting care.”