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August 19, 2011

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

UW School of Medicine presents 2011 progress report to Washington State Medical Association

Dear Colleagues:

Each summer, I submit a report to the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) about the UW School of Medicine’s recent activities and accomplishments. The 2011 report is available for your review.

Preparation of this report provides an opportunity to reflect on the academic year just completed and anticipate the year ahead. Despite ongoing economic challenges to education, research and health care programs, the UW School of Medicine had an excellent year and the future is bright. This success is due to a very large number of faculty, staff, students and trainees who are committed to excellence in their academic activities.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank all the members of the UW Medicine community and to thank the members and leaders of the Washington State Medical Association for the valuable role they play in healthcare in our state and for the many ways they help make UW Medicine a leading healthcare institution. Hundreds of Washington physicians volunteer to teach and mentor our medical and physician assistant students, residents and fellows in their medical practices. Many participate in UW School of Medicine activities in other ways, such as through the UW Medicine Alumni Association. Your roles are highly valued and greatly appreciated.


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




Study finds caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at molecular level

Paul NghiemCaffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published Aug. 15. Senior author Paul Nghiem, UW associate professor of dermatology and pathology, and his colleagues genetically modified mice so the rodents would have diminished function of a protein enzyme, known as ATR, in their skin. ATR helps the body repair damaged DNA.

Prior research has indicated that caffeine inhibits ATR, along with other enzymes that facilitate DNA repair. Although this repair activity is often beneficial, it also can contribute to the emergence of some cancers. When exposed to ultraviolet light, the genetically modified mice developed tumors three weeks later than unmodified mice did. After 19 weeks of ultraviolet light exposure, the lab-generated mice had 69 percent fewer tumors than regular mice. They also developed four times fewer invasive tumors. Continued chronic ultraviolet irradiation, however, eventually caused tumor development in all of the mice after 34 weeks of exposure.

"This study has been 10 years in the making,” Nghiem explained, “since it is much more difficult to genetically target this protein enzyme specifically. But what it suggests is that caffeine’s protective effect against ultraviolet damage, which we’ve documented in other studies, is likely due to ATR inhibition."

Nghiem said this inhibition most likely works at the pre-cancerous stage before UV-induced skin cancers fully develop.

"In past studies, we’ve been able to show that caffeine decreases the incidence of skin cancer development,” Nghiem said. “In this study, we set out to determine how that works and how the body protects itself from skin cancer. We were able to show that caffeine manipulates the pathway of this protein in a live mouse by suppressing ATR’s function."

With more than a million new cases in the United States each year, non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in humans. The researchers suggest that topical application of caffeine could be useful in preventing such cancers, with the added benefit that it directly absorbs UV light, thereby acting as a sunscreen.


Office of Research launches Required Training website for investigators 

The UW Office of Research has launched a new website to make it easier for scientists to keep informed about training requirements and research compliance.

Jeffrey Cheek, UW associate vice provost of research compliance and operations, said that given the UW’s decentralized structure, the new Required Training website should be particularly helpful.

"We developed this site in partnership with multiple central UW compliance offices and UW researchers,” Cheek said. “All of them share the same goal:  assisting members of the UW research community to easily identify training required for their area of research."

The Required Training website was constructed in consultation with UW researchers and UW training providers to identify those courses directly applicable to the conduct of research.  This site provides:

  • An overview of all research-related trainings that can be filtered by research area;
  • A detailed description of each training, including the required frequency and target audience for each course;
  • Easy access to training registration;
  • Information about the specific federal and state regulation or UW policy that mandates the training requirement;
  • The ability to share results from a pre-filtered set of results.

The information on the Required Training website will always represent the most current information available as of the date published in the page footer. Although the page will be actively reviewed and maintained, there may be other requirements for an individual's research. Therefore, researchers should always know their sponsor's training requirements specific to their research activities.

To request a demonstration of the webpage, contact research@uw.edu.


Clinical Care

American Academy of Medicine designates UW Medicine Sleep Center a program of distinction

Vishesh KapurThe UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center was named an Academic Program of Distinction by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). It is one of six in the nation to be so designated for having demonstrated excellence according to rigorous standards of clinical service, education and research accomplishments.

Vishesh K. Kapur, UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, directs the center. Sina Gharib, UW assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and Randy Mandell, UW clinical instructor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, are among providers. A multidisciplinary team of 10 provides diagnostic and treatment services at Harborview, as well as at UW Medical Center and several neighborhood clinics.

The other sleep centers holding AASM distinction are at Brigham & Women's, University of Louisville, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Children's Hospital Boston. 

Read about the AASM Program of Distinction.


Colonoscopy tops list of screening tests for men

The following is adapted from an article by Tim Burner, a family medicine physician at the UW Neighborhood Clinic in Woodinville. The article was published July 5 by the Journal Media Group.

Even when advised to get screened for colorectal cancer, many men are not convinced of the need. While women are accustomed to regular checkups for Pap smears, mammograms and birth control, men often wait until they are sick to see a doctor. Screening tests have the potential to identify diseases before symptoms emerge and when they are most treatable.

While screening can save lives and improve the quality of life, the choice of tests should be based on scientific research.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a national independent panel of medical experts, conducts scientific reviews of clinical preventive services and develops recommendations for primary care clinicians and health systems. The task force has written a guide to age-appropriate screening recommendations for men ages 18 to 65. For more information about USPSTF recommendations, visit “Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age”.


Read the original article.


Education and Training

Cassie Iutzi receives AMA Arthur Wilson Scholarship

Cassie IutziCassie Iutzi, a third-year medical student at the UW School of Medicine, has been awarded the Arthur N. Wilson, MD Scholarship by the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation. The scholarship supports a medical student who graduated from a high school in southeast Alaska and who has consistently received academic honors.

Iutzi, of Juneau, will receive a $5,000 scholarship to help defray medical school expenses. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Alaska, Anchorage and attended Juneau-Douglas High School. In addition to a medical degree, lutzi is pursuing a master’s degree in public health from the UW’s Department of Global Health.

Since 2004, Iutzi has volunteered as a medical interpreter in a Nicaraguan clinic, where she also completed a practicum studying patient satisfaction and participated in the clinic’s community education and women’s health groups.

In the latter part of her third year, Iutzi will participate in the WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE). She has been a leader in medical school where she has served as co-director for the Alaska class’s Family Medicine Interest Group, founder of the Access to Care group, and director for Casa Latina Health Education.

"Cassie Iutzi’s humanitarian efforts characterize Dr. Arthur Wilson’s devotion to the medical profession," said AMA Foundation President Owen Garrick. "She is certain to make a significant difference in the healthcare community, and the AMA Foundation is pleased to recognize such a remarkable student."

In 1984, Arthur N. Wilson made a bequest to the AMA Foundation for the Arthur N. Wilson, MD Scholarship to support aspiring medical students from southeast Alaska. Born in 1898 in India, Wilson graduated from Rush Medical School and, as a general practitioner, became an integral part of the town of Ketchikan, Alaska. The Arthur N. Wilson, MD Scholarship highlights the critical role rural physicians play in their communities.

Visit the American Medical Association Foundation website for more information.


Cindy Jacobs appointed director of business projects

Cindy Jacobs has been named director of business projects for the School of Medicine, effective Aug. 1.

For the past nine years, Jacobs was director for UW Medical Center Risk Management and associate director for Health Sciences Risk Management. Prior to joining the UW, Jacobs was risk/liability and compliance counsel at Valley Medical Center and director of risk management at Northwest Hospital.

Jacobs also has worked in private practice providing medical malpractice defense and was an attorney in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, where she represented the UW and Labor and Industries. She is also a registered nurse.



WWAMI Regional News

Robert McGuire receives WWAMI Distinguished Teaching Award

McGuireRobert McGuire, UW clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, received the 2011 WWAMI Distinguished Teaching Award during the School of Medicine graduation ceremonies June 4.  McGuire is the first Wyoming physician to receive the award since Wyoming joined the WWAMI program in 1997. McGuire was presented the award by Emily Ashbaugh, a member of the 2011 graduating class, who completed her OB/GYN clerkship with McGuire.

The WWAMI Distinguished Teaching Award honors a faculty member in the WWAMI region who has played an important role in student education. The award is intended to include teachers involved in the spectrum of WWAMI education, including but not limited to the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP) preceptorships, basic science courses (all first-year sites), clerkships and electives.

McGuire is the founding member of Cheyenne Obstetrics and Gynecology. Under McGuire's leadership, the practice became the first WWAMI Wyoming obstetrics and gynecology clerkship site in Cheyenne. He is well known for promoting quality patient care, as well as for his concern for patients and their families. As an outstanding gynecology surgeon, McGuire has influenced many students to enter obstetrics and gynecology residencies. McGuire is also very involved in the promotion of health quality and patient satisfaction activities in Wyoming. He served on the Wyoming Board of Medicine for eight years and was vice president of the Board from 1992-1996.He is also active in the county medical society and local hospital administration.

McGuire initially came to Cheyenne from Pennsylvania in 1975. He completed medical school at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and did his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Allentown Hospital in Allentown, Pa. Following completion of his residency, he practiced in Cheyenne for several years and then returned to Allentown in a faculty position before settling in Cheyenne in 1979.

McGuire retired from practice in January of 2011.


Boise launches second internal medicine residency

In 1977, the UW Department of Medicine embarked on an exciting new experiment, a separate internal medicine residency track outside of Seattle. This Seattle-Boise track, with residents spending their first and third years in Seattle and their second year at the Boise VA, was one of the nation’s first primary care internal medicine programs. As of 2010, there are 223 graduates, with 31 percent practicing in Idaho and 70 percent in the WWAMI region.

Now, a second internal medicine residency, with all three years based in Boise, has been launched under the leadership of Scott Smith, UW professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine. The residency was added to meet the need for more physicians in Idaho and to improve continuity of resident training. This is the first UW-sponsored residency based wholly outside greater Seattle. Eight residents in each training year will spend approximately 70 percent of their time at the Boise VA and 10 percent each at Saint Luke’s Regional Health Care System, Saint Alphonsus Regional Health Care system, and “outside” rotations (including Seattle).

The new residency has several interesting features, including a 50:50 mix of ward and outpatient experiences; required community-based rotations at offices around the state; a three-year integrated scholarship curriculum; a simulator and bedside ultrasound curriculum that covers common inpatient problems; and a “medical home” continuity clinic that includes nurse practitioner students, pharmacy residents, and housestaff from psychology and psychiatry working together at curriculum and practice.

The first cohort of eight categorical interns began their training on July 1. Three interns are from the UW, and one each from the University of Colorado, Stanford University, University of Texas - Southwestern, University of Texas-Galveston, and West Virginia University. Many have strong ties to Idaho.



Upcoming Events

The following is a listing of some upcoming events that may be of interest to the UW Medicine community.

Biomedical Research Integrity Program Lecture, Aug. 25

Why Scientists Cheat (and What Am I Supposed to Do About It?), noon, Thursday, Aug. 25, Room T-733, Health Sciences Building. Gerald Koocher, professor of psychology and dean of the School of Health Sciences at Simmons College in Boston, will address questions of academic dishonesty. For more information, contact Margaret Mitchell at uwbri@uw.edu or 206.221.6548 or visit the Biomedical Research Integrity Program website.

UW Department of Radiation Oncology Symposium, Sept. 9

Hypofractionation RT Strategies: Benefits and Pitfalls, a day-long symposium, Friday, Sept. 9, Orin Smith Auditorium, UW Medicine South Lake Union. Robert Stewart, UW associate professor of radiation oncology and medical physicist, will give the keynote lecture titled Biological Mechanisms Underpinning Fraction-Size Effects in Photon and Hadron Therapy.  After the lecture, there will be oral presentations on new therapies, delivery systems and implementation techniques and equipment used in radiation oncology. Register online. For more information, visit the Department of Radiology Oncology website or contact Velida (Vee) White at   veewhite@u.washington.edu or 206.598.4115.

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. 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.  
Faculty Development Workshop, Oct. 21

“You Got Promoted to Associate Professor – Now What?” 8 a.m. to noon, Friday, Oct. 21, UW South Campus Center, Room 316. While this workshop is geared to midcareer faculty, all are welcome to attend. Speakers include UW School of Medicine faculty members Chris Surawicz, Robb Glenny, Deb Schwinn, Larry Robinson, Anna Wald, Grace John Stewart, Tueng T. Shen and Josh Benditt. The workshop is sponsored by the UW Medicine Office of Faculty Development. For information, contact Michelle Walter at mmwalter@uw.edu or 206.543.6232.

Future of Contraception Conference, Oct. 29 – 31

The Future of Contraception Initiative, a three-day conference, Oct 29-31, Edgewater Hotel, 2411 Alaskan Way, Seattle. The conference will bring together international experts to address global needs, new developments in male and female contraception, and recent research in reproductive biology.  UW Department of Medicine Chair William J. Bremner is chair of the organizing committee and local host for the conference. Register online. For more information, contact foci2011@uw.edu or call 206.543.1537.

Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium Workshop, Nov. 8

The fourth annual Northwest Genome Engineering Consortium Workshop on Genome Engineering takes place Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Seattle. The workshop provides a forum for discussion about genome engineering concepts, methods, and applications under study in both consortium and non-consortium laboratories. Register online. Visit the Northwest Engineering Consortium website or contact Andre Durudas, consortium project coordinator, at 206.884.7399 or andre.durudas@seattlechildrens.org for more information.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.