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June 24, 2011

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation advances major global health projects

Dear Colleagues:

I was very pleased to be able to attend the fifth meeting of the Board of the UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) on June 16-17.  IHME, established in July 2007, has made remarkable progress in four years.  The institute provides independent, rigorous measurements of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. This information is made available to policymakers around the world and provides them with evidence to make informed decisions about allocation of resources to improve health for all people.

Among the major IHME projects discussed at the Board meeting were:

  • Work on the “global burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factor study” that measures the impact of more than 200 health conditions and 40 health risk factors. This work is conducted in collaboration with 800 researchers around the world who are producing the best available data related to the burden of disease, stratified by age and sex, over the past two decades. This work involves conducting in-person surveys and gathering health information through an innovative on-line survey.
  • IHME is leading a team of demographers, statisticians, economists and other experts in a study to improve the allocation of resources among interventions, technologies, hospitals and other service delivery platforms. This work will produce cost effectiveness estimates to improve health.
  • IHME is working on a focused population health metrics project to track health intervention coverage in India, Mexico, the Philippines and Tanzania. IHME staff are working in close collaboration with research organizations in these four countries to develop methods to measure mortality, causes of death and incidences of major illnesses where data are incomplete.
  • The IHME malaria control policy assessment project is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of malaria control interventions. This work, conducted primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, is evaluating the effectiveness of interventions by analyzing the effect on child mortality and producing estimates at the national and local levels.
  • IHME is conducting research in the United States to estimate mortality, life expectancy, risk factors, health disparities and disease prevalence. This work has received recent national and international attention related to significant differences found among different counties in the United States.

Among IHME’s publications is an annual policy report titled Financing Global Health which tracks more than $200 billion in public and private contributions to global health.

IHME is also committed to expanding the field of health metrics by training the next generation of global health leaders in the science of measurement that is both accountable and transparent. IHME educational programs include undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. IHME has made remarkable progress in development of educational programs in a very short period of time.

I would like to congratulate and thank Chris Murray, UW professor of global health and IHME director, and his outstanding faculty, staff and students. Their work is having a large impact on policy and on important health-related decisions globally related to improving health for all people.


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




Diabetic kidney disease on the rise in America, despite improved diabetes care

Ian de BoerDiabetic kidney disease has become more prevalent in the United States over the past 20 years, despite a substantial increase in the use of medications for treating people with diabetes, according to a study published June 22 in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The widespread application of medications shown to improve health in clinical trials has markedly improved the control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol in the diabetic population in the United States.

Yet diabetic kidney disease continues to rise. This increase is mostly due to the growing number of people with diabetes. But researchers were surprised that diabetic kidney disease increased in direct proportion to the percentage of American adults with diabetes. In other words, there was no apparent progress in preventing kidney disease within the diabetic population.

"Improvements in reaching therapeutic targets in diabetes management have not translated into a decline in diabetic kidney disease," said the lead author of the study, Ian H. de Boer, UW assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology, and an adjunct assistant professor of epidemiology.

Diabetic kidney disease, a common complication of diabetes, develops in about 40 percent of people with diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease in the developed world.

De Boer and his research team discovered that better diabetes management did not lead to significant improvements in glomerular filtration rate, a test which measures kidney function.

"The results of our research don't suggest that standards of diabetes care for controlling blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and cholesterol should be changed," de Boer said. "What the findings suggest is that these treatments alone are not doing an effective job of reducing diabetic kidney disease, and researchers need to find additional ways to do that."

De Boer said that solutions lie in preventing diabetes through diet, exercise and lifestyle modifications to prevent or treat obesity, and in finding new interventions to treat people with kidney disease, particularly interventions that prevent glomerular filtration rate problems.

Deok-Ho Kim receives Perkins Coie Award for Discovery

Deok-Ho KimDeok-Ho Kim, UW assistant professor of bioengineering and a regenerative medicine researcher, has received the 2011 Perkins Coie Award for Discovery.

The award is part of the law firm's five-year commitment to support translational research at UW Medicine South Lake Union. Each year, from 2007 to 2011, the firm has awarded a $20,000 grant to support a new project to generate data that could be used as a basis for a new and significant research program funded by NIH or other funding agencies. The award to Kim is the fifth in this program.

In his award application, Kim described the difficulties scientists have been facing in trying to regenerate heart tissue to repair damage from heart attacks. Regenerative cells injected directly into the heart have a low survival rate and the body rapidly clears them from the injection site.

Kim is working to overcome these obstacles by pre-conditioning stem cells before they are transplanted into diseased tissue. He plans to incubate stem cells in an environment that is similar to the biological niche that supports muscle cells in the living heart. This would create a nano-patterned, bioengineered patch for damaged heart muscle. He hopes that pre-conditioning will enhance the survival of the cells, help them turn into the right kinds of heart muscle cells, and remain at the transplant site to enhance the repair of heart tissue.

His research may yield new information on the roles of this stem cell niche in regulating how stem cells are changed into heart muscle cells and in fostering heart muscle regeneration. Kim wants to establish tissue-engineered heart grafts that resemble the normal architecture and function of heart muscle.

Kim is part of the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at UW Medicine South Lake Union.



Clinical Care

UW Medicine and Valley Medical Center form strategic alliance

The chief executive officers of UW Medicine and Valley Medical Center (VMC) have formed a strategic alliance in which Valley Medical Center, Public Hospital District #1 of King County, will join UW Medicine effective July 1.

The creation of the strategic alliance follows several months of in-depth discussion with respective boards, communication with key stakeholders, and preparation of a strategic alliance agreement, which was approved by the governing boards of both organizations.

The strategic alliance will increase access to additional healthcare services for South King County residents and offer a seamless continuum of care for those patients, from primary care through the most complex needs, in addition to aligning best practice models, expanding clinical, teaching and research programs, and positioning UW Medicine for future healthcare reform opportunities.

“This strategic alliance provides exciting opportunities to combine efforts on important initiatives that will benefit patients and the community,” said Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the UW School of Medicine. “UW Medicine and Valley Medical Center share a commitment to providing outstanding clinical care with an emphasis on patient safety and service. This alliance will further support our mission to improve the health of the public and enhance our ability to provide national leadership for healthcare reform.”

”In my 28 years at Valley Medical Center, the work of the President’s Advisory Council in guiding us toward a strategic alliance with UW Medicine is the most significant and visionary accomplishment that has been made on behalf of our community because it will help facilitate the most comprehensive clinical care available for the people in our community,” said Rich Roodman, CEO of Valley Medical Center.

UW Medicine currently includes: Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, Airlift Northwest and UW School of Medicine.

Team Transplant runs with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Alysun Deckert and Kathleen SebeliusKathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, had a busy day in Seattle on Saturday, June 11. In the afternoon, she was commencement speaker for the University of Washington Class of 2011. She started her day at Seward Park with UW Medicine's Team Transplant

Team Transplant runs up to six miles every Saturday, and Alysun Deckert, the team's founder, coach and a clinical nutrition manager at UW Medical Center (UWMC), knew that Secretary Sebelius might be up for joining the team after reading a recent profile in "Runner's World" magazine. Deckert is an experienced runner who has competed in U.S. Olympic marathon trials.

At least 20 transplant recipients, and a total group of 45 runners, ran with Secretary Sebelius and her staff on June 11. Deckert said the secretary ran up to five miles with the team, but had to cut the distance a bit short so that she could make a breakfast appointment.

Team Transplant hopes the Secretary will join them on a run the next time she is in Seattle.

UW Medicine’s Team Transplant includes UW Medical Center liver, kidney and heart transplant recipients, as well as faculty physicians, staff, family and friends. The team has run in such events as the Seattle Marathon since 2001.

Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on April 28, 2009. She leads the principal agency charged with monitoring the health of the American public, ensuring that individuals get the health care they need, and providing children, families and seniors with essential human services. She also oversees one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government, with nearly 80,000 employees.

Photo: Alysun Deckert (left), Team Transplant coach, and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services, started commencement day with a run in Seward Park. Photo by Tess Brown.



Education and Training

Spokane County Medical Society names George Novan Physician/Citizen of the Year

George NovanGeorge Novan, associate director of the WWAMI first-year medical education program in Spokane, has been named Physician/Citizen of the Year by the Spokane County Medical Society.

“George has had an important impact for years in mentoring students as they work through a competitive education process,” said Keith Baldwin, Society executive director. “He helps them become good people. Also, he’s been a strong supporter of primary care, which is becoming so important now.”

Novan became a faculty member in the Internal Medicine Residency Program in Spokane in 1990. For the past 20 years, he also has helped third-year University of Washington medical students find hospitals and clinics in Spokane for their clinical training.

Novan is a three-time recipient of the UW Department of Medicine WWAMI Excellence in Teaching award. In 2009, his Spokane students honored him with the Teacher of the Year award.

Alumni gather and celebrate at annual All-School Reunion weekend

Approximately 250 people gathered to honor four outstanding alumni at this year’s All-School Reunion weekend reception and dinner June 4 at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel.

Celebrating their reunion this year were alumni from the classes of 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006. As part of the reunion weekend, the UW Medicine Alumni Association recognized the following exceptional alumni for their achievements and contributions:

Distinguished Alumni Award: Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., Res. ’68, Fel. ’69, a 40-year member of The New York Times science news staff, is one of the most prominent medical journalists in the nation. Altman has explained medical issues and advances to lay audience in thousands of articles and columns and has won numerous awards for his work. A graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine, Altman completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical genetics at the UW.

Anna ChavelleAlumni Service Award: Anna H. Chavelle, M.D. ’57, a family medicine physician (photo,left), has dedicated numerous hours of service to the UW School of Medicine. Chavelle has raised funds for the Theodore J. Phillips Professorship of Family Medicine and the giving campaign for the Class of 1957’s endowed scholarship, served on the School of Medicine’s admission committee and its executive committee, and has been involved in the UW Medicine Alumni Association since the early 1990s. Chavelle retired from practice in 1995 and is now an emeritus clinical associate professor.

Humanitarian Award: Frank W. Ogden, M.D. ’61, served as physician, surgeon and medical director of Kibuye Hospital, a small facility in the central highlands of Burundi, East Africa, for 40 years. He is known for his tireless service, compassion, and willingness to do whatever he can to alleviate suffering among the people of East Africa. In 2005, Hope Africa University in Bujumbura, Burundi, opened a new medical school and named it the Frank W. Ogden School of Medicine. The first class will graduate in 2012.

Alumni Early Achievement Award: Marshall Horwitz, Ph.D. ’88, M.D. ’90, is UW professor of pathology, medicine, genome sciences, and biology. He received his medical and doctoral degrees from the UW Medical Scientist Training Program, which he now directs. Following his medicine residency and fellowship in the Division of Medical Genetics, Horwitz joined the faculty in 1995. His honors include the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, as well as membership in the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. 

UW Medicine restructures new faculty orientation

The UW Medicine new faculty orientation seminar has been restructured to better accommodate and welcome more new faculty. Orientations will now take place quarterly instead of annually, and the seminar will be two and a half hours, instead of four hours.

The new structure will allow new faculty to have the opportunity to participate at the beginning of their appointment.

Each quarter, beginning July 14, the orientations will provide new faculty with helpful information about UW Medicine, including a welcome by Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine, and an overview of UW Medicine’s organization and structure, tools for academic success, Health Sciences Libraries, UW Work Life Resources, and UW Benefits.

The next UW Medicine New Faculty Orientations take place:

  • Thursday, July 14, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Turner Conference Room, E202, Health Sciences Building. Register online.
  • Thursday, October 6, 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Research and Training Room 117, Harborview Medical Center. Register online.

The orientation is for all faculty members who have joined UW Medicine within the past few years, although all are welcome.

Contact Michelle Walter at mwalter@uw.edu or 206.543.6232 for more information.



WWAMI Regional News

Wyoming WWAMI increases class to 20 students

Matthew McEchronThe state of Wyoming became the second “W” in WWAMI when it joined the states of Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho as the fifth partner state in the WWAMI medical education program in 1997. The original class size in WWAMI Wyoming was 10 students. At that time the state of Wyoming was challenged to prepare students to meet the admissions requirements of the WWAMI program. Leaders from the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Medical Society, the University of Washington School of Medicine and educators around the state of Wyoming developed and implemented a program to improve the Wyoming pipeline for medical school applicants.

This effort has resulted in a significant increase in the number of qualified applicants to the WWAMI Wyoming program. In 2005, the Wyoming Legislature, with the approval of the University of Washington School of Medicine, voted to increase the WWAMI class size to 16 over a period of three years. This was accomplished by increasing the class size by two students each year.

The Wyoming Legislature voted again this year to increase the Wyoming medical student class size to 20 students, beginning with the entering class of 2011. Matt McEchron, assistant dean of the Wyoming WWAMI Medical Education Program since 2008 (photo above, left), has continued to seek and develop a quality pipeline of students who are well qualified for the WWAMI program. In 2011, this effort resulted in the largest number of qualified applicants for the WWAMI Wyoming program since its inception in Wyoming.

Doug SchmitzThe work by Carol Teitz, dean of admissions, and the four members of the WWAMI Wyoming Admissions Committee — Doug Schmitz, chairman (photo, right), Deeanne Johnson-Engle, David Fall and Mark Wurzel — resulted in the initial acceptance of 20 outstanding students with an additional nine alternates.

Hosting admission interviews in Laramie for the first time resulted in a high level of satisfaction by the applicants and an increased number of interested Wyoming premedical students. All applicants are encouraged to visit the UW School of Medicine in Seattle. WWAMI Wyoming will continue focus on building a pipeline of highly qualified applicants to produce a strong physician workforce for the region.



Upcoming Events

The following is a listing of some upcoming events that may be of interest to the UW Medicine community. Additional events are listed on the UW Medicine events calendar

Wednesday Evenings at the Genome, July 6 – 27

The Department of Genome Sciences hosts a free summer lecture series designed for a general audience with no background knowledge in genetics and provides opportunities to chat with presenters:

July 6Recent adventures in human evolution by John Akey, UW assistant professor of genome sciences; July 13: Confessions of the genome: Solving rare disease mysteries by Mike Bamshad, UW professor of pediatrics and adjunct professor of genome sciences; July 20: Meet your tenants: A genomic tour of your inner microbial zoo by Elhanan Borenstein, UW assistant professor of genome sciences; and July 27: Paleovirology: Ghosts and gifts from ancient infections by Harmit Malik, affiliate UW assistant professor of genome sciences and associate member of Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Presentations begin at 7 p.m., W.H. Foege Building Auditorium (S-060) on the UW campus, followed by refreshments at 8 p.m. Contact Carlene Cross at crossc2@uw.edu or 206.221.5374 for more information, or visit the Genome Sciences website.

Algae and Human Health Symposium, July 15

Algae and Human Health Symposium, 8:30 a.m. - noon, July 15, Kane Hall. Health professionals and biomedical scientists interested in algal toxins or the nutritional benefits of algae can register to attend speaker sessions in the morning and paper sessions in the afternoon. Speakers represent the University of Miami and European Centre for Environmental and Human Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and a general practice physician and author. Registration is $80. The symposium is a special session at the combined Phycological Society of America and International Society of Protistologists 2011 annual meeting this summer in Seattle. For more information, contact Patricia Tester, 252.728.8792; Susan Brawley, 207.581.2973; or Gaile Moe at 206.281.2238.

Ethical considerations in research collaborations conference, Sept. 22 – 23

The Ethical Considerations in Research Collaborations conference will bring together nationally recognized speakers for a discussion of ethical challenges in three areas: university to industry collaboration, researcher to researcher collaboration, and international collaboration. Among the objectives of the conference are to create a summary document of best practices for sharing primary data and biological samples, including maintaining and building research repositories; and to create and share an executive summary of the discussion of shared definitions, regulatory requirements and common practices among researchers in the university and industry sectors. Participants will take home suggested best practices and educational materials, and will create new networks for industry and cross-cultural collaborations. The conference is sponsored by the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity. Visit the conference website for more information or to register.

Pre-Curriculum Review Advisory Committee Feedback

Comments about the medical school curriculum can be made online. This survey website requires a UW Net ID. Contact Kellie Engle at kaengle@uw.edu or 206.543.2249 for more information.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.



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