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June 13, 2014

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Message from Paul Ramsey

UW School of Medicine Peer Support Program to launch in August

Dear Colleagues:

The 2014 graduation of UW School of Medicine medical students was held on Friday, May 23 at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Of 218 graduates this year, 213 participated in the afternoon graduation ceremony. More than a thousand family members, friends, faculty, staff and other supporters participated.

The graduating class selected Heidi Combs, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, to give the graduation address. Dr. Combs is a Teacher Superior in Perpetuity, having received the Distinguished Teacher Award from four classes of graduating medical students. She talked with the graduating students about the changing face of medicine—both demographically and in the doctorpatient relationship. She asked the graduates to remember the importance of maintaining resilience and empathy during their residency training and beyond.

Heidi Combs
Heidi Combs

The graduating class selected four individuals to receive this year’s Distinguished Teacher Awards: Anthony “Abe” DeSantis, clinical associate professor of medicine, received the award for basic science teaching in the Hormones and Nutrients course. Dr. DeSantis was one of the UW School of Medicine pioneers of a classroom teaching approach called “the flipped classroom.” Margaret Isaac, assistant professor of medicine, and Tom McNalley, attending physician in rehabilitation medicine, were honored for their outstanding clinical teaching. Jan Whitefield, clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, teaches our medical students in WWAMI Alaska and received the award for WWAMI teachers. Congratulations to these inspiring teachers for your wonderful service to and example for our students! Jamey Cheek, academic skills counselor, received the Margaret S. Anderson Award that each year honors a faculty or staff members who has shown exceptional concern for and support of medical students.

The students selected one peer graduate for both the Ellen Griep Award and the Rosenblatt Community Service Award—Derek Blechinger. Derek was a superb student throughout his medical school career. Among many other activities, he co-founded UW TEST a program for HIV testing and prevention provided entirely by medical students in collaboration and support from area physicians. For his outstanding service, he received the U.S. Public Health Service 2013 Excellence in Public Health Award. Congratulations, Derek, and thank you for your outstanding contributions!

Thank you and my best wishes to all of our 2014 graduates and to this year’s awardees.


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 physicians Tony Blau and Mary Claire-King talk about cancer in Q&As

Mary Claire-King presents at World Science Festival 2014 in New York City
Mary Claire-King presents at World Science Festival 2014 in New

University of Washington cancer specialist C. Anthony Blau, professor of medicine, hosted an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit. When we last checked, the conversation had grown to more than 400 comments, including this question: In all honesty -- do you think that any cancers will have a complete cure within the next 20 years? Read the Reddit article.

Meanwhile, TIME Magazine interviewed Mary Claire-King, UW professor of genome sciences and medicine, who discovered the region on the genome that eventually became known as BRCA1, the first gene linked to a higher than average chance of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The first question asked in the Q & A with her was on how she discovered BRCA1, and the importance of believing in your gut instincts. Read the Time article.

Researchers teamed with playwrights

Five researchers from the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the University of Washington were teamed with a local Seattle playwright for the creation of five intriguing short plays exploring science and what it means to be human airing Friday, June 13. The scientists are Eberhard Fetz, UW professor of physiology and biophysics; Adrienne Fairhall, UW associate professor of physiology and biophysics; Lise Johnson, UW senior fellow in neurological surgery; Chet Moritz, UW assistant professor in rehabilitation medicine; and Howard Chizeck, UW professor of electrical engineering. The Infinity Box Theatre Project is committed to using the power of theater to pose questions about the human consequences of science and technology. More on the event here.


Clinical Care

Video highlights work of stem-cell technology at UW Medicine

Three UW researchers realizing the power of stem-cell technology to transform medicine had a dream for making Seattle a leader in this effort and now lead the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine: Charles E. Murry, UW professor of pathology, bioengineering and medicine/cardiology and C. Anthony Blau, UW professor of medicine, are co-directors of the Institute; and Randall Moon, UW professor of pharmacology, is founding director of the institute. Learn more about the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine in this 8-minute video.

UW launches crowd funding web portal

The UW is now using the crowd funding web portal, USEED. Faculty and students can use this website to fundraise for projects, events, etc. All donations through USEED are 100 percent tax deductible and projects receive all the funding raised, regardless of whether they reach their goal by the deadline. For more information.


Education and Training

Bioengineering students receive prize for ‘Flu Finder’

Two PhD candidates in the Department of Bioengineering, Gina Fridley and Carly Holstein, as well as teammates from the Foster School of Business, placed second and received Best Innovation prize at the 2014 UW Business Plan Competition on May 22. Their project, Flu Finder, is based upon Fridley and Holstein’s thesis work in the lab of Paul Yager, UW professor of bioengineering. Flu Finder improves on current flu diagnostic technology by offering a flu test that is accurate, inexpensive and can be administered by anyone, anywhere, with results in 20 minutes or less. The team received $12,500 for their two prizes, $10,000 (sponsored by WRF Capital) for second place and $2,500 (sponsored by Perkins Coie) for Best Innovation. The UW Business Plan Competition awarded $70,000 in prizes in 2014 and has given out $1.6 million to student-led startups over the past 17 years. More information here.

New fellowship in family planning

The UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology will start a fellowship program in family planning on July 1, 2014. This two-year program is designed for OB/GYN residency graduates interested in further training in family planning and will span a range of areas, from clinical experience and research to teaching and advocacy. Fellows will graduate with a Master’s degree in Public Health, or its equivalent, and will complete at least one independent research project. They will also have an opportunity to be involved in a global family planning experience.

The first fellow, Lyndsey Benson, is currently completing her OB/GYN residency at the University of Chicago. She has some experience already as a researcher, having completed a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship project in medical school, which included first author publication. In addition, she has worked on four other research studies in which she has designed and/or conducted a statistical analysis plan. She has published or is in the process of publishing the results. The University of Washington Ob/Gyn Department is one of 31 family planning fellowship sites around the country.


WWAMI Regional News

Preceptor named Idaho Family Physician of the Year

Pictured left to right; Shannon Batcha, Frank Batcha and Mary Barinaga, May, 2014 Idaho Academy of Family Physicians Annual Conference.
2014 Baringa Award

Frank Batcha, a family medicine physician in Hailey, Idaho who is working with the Idaho WWAMI program, was named Idaho Family Physician of the Year by the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians. A tribute was made to Batcha for his generous contributions to his profession, to medical education and to his service and dedication to his community and his country. Batcha began his practice at the Hailey Medical Clinic in 1996 and is a clinical assistant professor in the UW Department of Family Medicine. He served in the Idaho Army National Guard from 2001 to 2009 serving on active duty as a brigade surgeon and was deployed for 14 months to Iraq in October 2004.

Daniel Bechtold, E2013 TRUST Scholar, Frank Batcha and Sage Coe Smith, 2013 WRITE Student enjoy a day exploring the trails of Hailey, Idaho.
Daniel Sage 2013

Batcha works closely with the Idaho WWAMI program, teaching UW medical students and residents. As an advocate for medical education, Batcha serves as a preceptor for the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP), the Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST) and the WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE) programs. He enjoys having students spend time with him in his practice where they can experience the satisfaction and benefits of practicing medicine in a small rural community. Batcha has had a tremendous influence on young students and residents, helping them to recognize, understand and experience the profound impact family physicians have on their communities.

Recently, a WWAMI WRITE medical student who spent 18 weeks learning from Batcha shared her experience with him: “Through Batcha, I was allowed a glimpse into the privilege of having continuity and connection between patients and physicians. He showed me that being a family physician can be so much more than just being a doctor; it is about being a part of a community. It was so clear that Batcha is a vital and essential part of the Wood River Valley as reflected by his patients raving about him, in the knowledge he has about the community and the manner in which his colleagues seek his advice and counsel. Not only is he a wonderful physician, but he is also a great mentor and educator.”



  • Judith Turner, UW professor in psychiatry & behavioral sciences and clinical faculty in the Division of Pain Medicine at the Center for Pain Relief, has been elected the next president of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), the most prestigious pain society in the world. She is the third UW pain faculty member to have been elected to this office; the UW is the only place where any more than one faculty has ever been IASP president—roles UW pain professors John Bonica and John Loeser have had in the past.

  • Daniel Stetson, UW assistant professor in the Department of Immunology, was selected to receive a 2014 Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award by the Burroughs Wellcome fund. This is an outstanding recognition of both his accomplishments and promise for continued success.

Upcoming Events

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

Public lecture, ‘Neurofutures,” June 16

Andres Lozano from the University of Toronto will be giving a public lecture, “The Brain on Circuit Training: Finding and Fixing Misfiring Neural Circuitry." This talk is on deep brain stimulation, which is being used to help treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. Afterwards, he will discuss his work with science educator and author David Heil, fielding questions from the audience. 7 p.m. Kane Hall, June 16, 2014. More on the event here.

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.

Former trauma patient signing books, June 24

On Jan. 31, 2013, Bridget Halfaker was hit by a car while walking with her infant son James strapped to her chest. Halfaker has written a book, Toddler Chakras, and she will sign books with her 2-year-old son in the Harborview Gift Shop. Noon-2 p.m., June 24, 2014. Profits from one year of sales will be allocated to the Trauma Fund at Harborview.

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.

First international conference on Systems Biology of Infectious Diseases, Aug. 17-20 in Seattle

Discover how innovations in genome science, technology, and computing are leading to advances in the study of human infectious diseases. Research aimed at understanding, treating, and preventing conditions such as respiratory infections, tuberculosis, and AIDS will be highlighted. The conference will also feature presentations on the identification of emerging pathogens, the role of the host response and host genetics in determining disease outcome, and the promises of personalized care. Keynote Speaker Nathan Myhrvold will speak at 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 17. For more on the event here.

Continuing Medical Education 

Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.



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