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Oct. 2 issue of UW Medicine Insight

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Anne Newcombe, clinical director of emergency services at Harborview, talks to KING TV on how the Aurora bridge disaster was handled. See story on
Firefighter recovering

and much more...

A biweekly newsletter focused on issues related to
the UW Medicine system.



Discovery fellowship opens up for School of Medicine graduate students; applications due Nov. 2

Dear Colleagues:

Paul Ramsey

We are fortunate to serve as the home for many outstanding graduate research programs that train tomorrow’s scientists. While completing their training, the graduate students in these programs frequently make important discoveries and advances that change the face of science and medicine. Working side by side with our scientific leaders, they enrich our research environment. We, in turn, learn and benefit from the work they complete during training. Yet after they complete their doctoral work, these talented individuals face challenges that did not exist in previous decades, including narrowing academic career opportunities and tightening funding.

To address this, the UW School of Medicine is working to enhance the traditional graduate education program to reflect the realities of the current career environment. Thanks to a special gift, the Graduate Discovery Fellowships Pilot Project will provide funded opportunities for individual Ph.D. students to explore diverse, career-enhancing opportunities. The pilot project will be flexibly structured to provide insight into the range of opportunities Ph.D. students seek in order to inform the design of subsequent fellowship opportunities for career exploration and enhancement.

A Graduate Discovery Fellowship might, for example, enable the development or mastering of new technology and approaches, or provide more scientific breadth to the recipient’s current abilities, expanding beyond the base discipline. Any proposal that would foster research independence and innovation is eligible for consideration.The fellowship is not restricted to any specific career goal.

This unique program will help us answer questions such as “What experiences and opportunities do students need to become the world’s best research scientists?” “What opportunities should be provided for students to explore other career avenues?” “What skills, beyond research abilities, are important?”

For 2015, approximately 6-10 awards will be given through a competitive process. Applications are due Nov. 2, 2015.The request for proposals is available at:

I would like to express my gratitude to Guy Tribble, M.D., Ph.D., and Susan K. Barnes for their generous contribution to support career-enhancing fellowship opportunities for graduate students.  As well, I would like to thank John Slattery, vice dean for research and graduate education, and Sheila Lukehart, associate dean for research and graduate education, who have advocated for broader and greater career support for our graduate students and who have worked with many faculty to design this wonderful opportunity.  Thank you also to the hundreds of graduate students who enrich our community immensely.  I urge graduate students to consider applying for this exceptional opportunity.


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

Research bar

UW researchers link two brains in experiment

UW grad student Jose Ceballos picks up signals from another brain. Photo from UW).
Kristie Ebi

UW researchers in psychology, computer science, engineering and bioengineering conducted what is believed to be the first experiment to show that two brains can be directly linked, allowing one participant to guess correctly what the other is thinking.The research was published in PLOS ONE. Andrea Stocco, UW assistant professor of psychology and a researcher at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, is the lead author.

In the experiment shown on YouTube, two participants played the game 20 Questions in rooms a mile apart on campus. One participant wore an electrode-studded cap connected to an electroencephalography (EEG) machine to pick up signals from the brain. The other wore a cap with a magnetic coil positioned over the part of the brain that controls the visual cortex. Stocco said if scientists could figure out how to transmit more complex signals like shapes between two brains, it might eventually allow people to collaborate on problem-solving in a completely novel way. For more on the story, see article in The Seattle Times and coverage on NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, FOX News and Business and KIRO-TV CBS 7.

New malaria infections halved since 2000 in sub-Saharan Africa

Simon Hay, director of geospatial science at UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and co-founder of the Malaria Atlas Project, is one of the authors of a study in the journal Nature that shows tremendous progress over the past two decades in sub-Saharan Africa in reducing malaria infections and the promise of fewer infections and deaths in the years to come.

The research, led by the Malaria Atlas Project, a multinational team of scientists based at the University of Oxford, found dramatic and widespread declines, with the overall rate of malaria infections falling by 50 percent between 2000 and 2015. “We can see for the first time at a very detailed level how the world is making incredible progress in stopping malaria, which has been a horrible disease that has harmed and killed millions worldwide,” said Hay. For more on the story, see release by IHME.

Other research news:

  • Seven easy ways to boost your metabolism (slideshow), MSN, Sept. 22, 2015
    Ways to implement easy lifestyle changes to burn more calories are presented. Research from the UW Medicine Sleep Center is referenced. (Slide 6).

  • How genome sequencing creates communities around rare disorders, The Atlantic, Sept. 21, 2015
    By identifying the gene behind a mysterious debilitating condition, researchers can define a rare disease and transform a patient’s life. Wendy Raskind, UW professor of medicine (genetics) is quoted.

  • A cure for 'colorblindness' may be in sight, MSN, Sept. 20, 2015
    Maureen Neitz, UW adjunct professor of ophthalmology, and Jay Neitz, UW professor of ophthalmology, have successfully cured colorblindness in two squirrel monkeys.

  • These charts show how much of your life you will spend being sick, The Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2015
    A new study from the UW's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reports that people around the world are living longer; however, they are also expected to spend more time suffering from illnesses. Theo Vos, a professor at the institute, is quoted.

  • Experts agree: Seattle-area men are driving women to drink, Crosscut, Sept. 18, 2015
    King County women rank among the top 10 percent of heavy drinkers in the U.S., according to research by the UW's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Ali Mokdad, lead researcher and professor at the institute, is quoted.

Clinical Bar

Mishka, the otter, prime example of ‘One Health’

Trainer Sara Perry uses food to teach  Mishka to push her nose on an inhaler and take a deep breath. (KING -TV).
Wylie Burke

News of the otter Mishka at the Seattle Aquarium, who needs an inhaler because of asthma triggered by area wildfires, was a story that went viral. A spokeswoman for the aquarium estimated that 900 million saw this news. Along with the cute photos and story, was an interview with Peter Rabinowitz, director of UW’s Center for One Health Research. Rabinowitz, UW associate professor of global health and environmental and occupational health sciences, and adjunct associate professor of medicine (allergy and infectious diseases), told reporters Mishka is a prime example of what is known as “one health” — people, environment and animals all affected by the same issues. "Sometimes those species can tell us there is a problem in the environment that could be important for human health as well," he said. For more on the story, see article in The Washington PostUSA TodayThe Telegraph (U.K.) and coverage on ABC NewsKING-TV 5 and  KPLU among others. 

The UW Center for One Health Research (COHR) "investigates the health linkages between humans, animals and their shared environments; including zoonoses, comparative clinical medicine, animals as sentinels, animal worker health, food safety and the human-animal bond. Through transdisciplinary partnerships, COHR develops innovative strategies for healthy coexistence between humans and animals in sustainable local and global ecosystems."

Copper making a comeback to fight bacteria

Harborview Medical Center is redesigning a waste-disposal room to incorporate copper on light switches and door handles to help fight bacteria. “We’ve known for a long time that copper and other metals are effective in killing microbes, so it wasn’t a great leap to incorporate copper surfaces into hospitals,” John Lynch, medical director of infection control at Harborview, told The Washington Post. At least 15 hospitals across the country have installed, or are considering installing, copper components on “high-touch” items, according to the paper.  For more on the story, see article in The Washington Post.

Guys putting off going to the doctor

Tom Walsh, UW associate professor of urology and director of the Men’s Health Center at UW Medicine, was interviewed about a study in JAMA showing that men don’t see a doctor as often as women do. “The idea of losing control or taking time out of one’s busy day to actually see a doctor is part of a man’ s paradigm,” Walsh said. Yet, as KUOW noted, men are more likely than women to have diabetes and high cholesterol. And men tend to die at a younger age. For more on the story, listen to the interview (2:19) on KUOW or view the transcript.

Other clinical stories:

Education Bar

The Health Professions Academy will support cohorts of students and expand the success of UW's summer medical dental education program for college freshmen and sophomores, (Photo by  Daniel Olson).
Wylie Burke

UW wins diversity grant for health professions

In a push to keep health professions on pace with changing demographics, the UW will create a Health Professions Academy to cultivate and recruit undergraduate students from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds to enter health sciences as a career.

The academy is a collaboration of the schools of Medicine and Dentistry and the Office for Minority Affairs and Diversity. It is funded by a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. UW was one of 17 institutions funded from among 150 applicants. “We will recruit students during their freshman year and have them enrolled by the summer,” said Leo Morales, UW professor of medicine and chief diversity officer for the School of Medicine. For more on the story, see article on HSNewsBeat.

Building a better ear (model)

Currently, medical students are working with bars of soaps, potatoes and apples to hone their techniques on ear reconstruction, but a collaboration between UW Medicine resident and a UW bioengineering student now offers a more realistic model. The two have created 3-D printing techniques to develop a low-cost, more lifelike surgical model that is also patient-specific for residents trying to learn how to do ear reconstruction. For more on the story, see article on UW Today.

INSIGHT program teaches students about injury, violence prevention

Maria Manzueta, a UW undergrad with INSIGHT. (Photo by Mark Gudmastad)
Wylie Burke

The Injury Student Internship Training Program, or INSIGHT, offered by the Harborview Injury Prevention Research Center, introduced 26 students (7 high school, 14 undergraduate and 5 graduate students) from across the nation this summer to injury and violence prevention. The six-week program, in its second year, is funded through a combination of UW departments and community sponsors, and seeks aspiring medical students interested in the field of injury prevention. This summer, 51 students applied.

“From interacting with patients in the ICU to experiencing my first surgery, this summer has truly opened my eyes to the impact physicians make every day,” said Gabriela Cabello, a pre-med student from Johns Hopkins University.

At the end of the internship, students showcased their research and four were selected as the best: Tonya Tang, The Northwest School, for “Patient-reported outcomes in spine surgery patients;” Jasmine Graham, UW, for “Nurse practitioner recommendations for adolescent driving following concussion;” Renae Tessem, UW, for “Firearm storage practices among participants in a community-based firearm safety event;” Morgan Graves, Georgetown University School of Medicine, for “Systolic dysfunction after isolated moderated-severe traumatic brain injury.” UW mentors were Debra Gordon, Janessa Graves, Fred Rivara and Vijay Krishnamoorthy.


‘Curriculum changes should be good for WWAMI students’

Wyoming WWAMI students celebrate after getting their white coats. (University of Wyoming).
Frank Batcha

(Reprinted from Wyoming Public Radio)

University of Wyoming is looking to find more space for the WWAMI medical program. The program is run by the University of Washington and trains students from Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho to be doctors.

A new curriculum will require students to complete the first two years of the program in their home state. University of Wyoming WWAMI Director Tim Robinson said the school is exploring options for expansion to accommodate those students. He said that the program is worth it.

“We just recently had a financial impact study done and they found that for every dollar the state of Wyoming invests in the WWAMI program, over $11 returns to the state,"said Robinson. So we have 79 graduates of the WWAMI program that are practicing in the state of Wyoming and that’s about a 70 percent return rate.”  For more on the story, see story on Wyoming Public Radio.

People Bar

Carlos Pellegrini to become chief medical officer at UW Medicine

Dr. Carlos Pellegrini
Carlos Pellegrini

Carlos Pellegrini, the Henry N. Harkins Endowed Professor and Chair of the UW Department of Surgery, will be taking on the newly created role of chief medical officer for UW Medicine. As the chief medical officer, he will provide executive leadership and strategic guidance for integration of clinical practice with education and research activities across all UW Medicine sites of practice and will report directly to Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine. The chief medical officer will also oversee all physician-led activities within UW Medicine and will have leadership responsibilities for transforming clinical practice and performance for the UW Medicine accountable care network. 

Pellegrini will step down as chair Dec. 1 and Douglas Wood, vice chair of the UW Department of Surgery and chief of the UW Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, will serve as acting chair. 

UW faculty Ray Hsiao elected president of state medical association

Dr. Ray Hsiao
Awards Hsiao_Ray.jpg

UW School of Medicine faculty Ray Hsiao, a child psychiatrist and addiction specialist at Seattle Children’s, will be the next president of the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA), the association announced at its annual meeting Sept. 27. WSMA represents physicians, resident physicians, medical students and physician-assistants throughout Washington state. 

Hsiao, co-director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Seattle Children’s, is a UW associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the UW School of Medicine child and adolescent psychiatry residency training program. He received his medical degree from Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, completed his residency at UW and is triple board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Awards Bar

UW Neighborhood Clinics receive patient safety honor

The Washington State Medical Association honored UW Medicine’s Neighborhood Clinics with the William O. Robertson, MD Patient Safety Award for its efforts to administer “the right vaccine at the right time, every patient, every time.” The UW Neighborhood Clinics have been under a 1 percent vaccine error rate for 11 consecutive months, according to the medical association. Read Williams, clinic chief at the UW Medicine Issaquah clinic, was on hand to receive the award at the association’s annual meeting Sept. 27 in Spokane.

Cambia announces 10 ‘Sojourns Scholars,' including 1 from UW

Dr. Daniel Lam
Daniel Lam

Cambia Health Foundation named 10 recipients of a two-year $180,000 grant to promote a palliative care workforce development across the country by funding research, clinical, educational or policy projects. The 2015 class of Sojourns Scholars comes from Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington, D.C. In Washington, the recipient is Daniel Lam, UW clinical assistant professor of medicine (nephrology), who will be integrating palliative care into routine care delivery across an entire dialysis provider system at Northwest Kidney Centers.

The work of the scholars builds on the 2014 inaugural class to improve care for patients of all ages facing a variety of serious illnesses. “These grants are career-changing opportunities for exceptional physicians and nurses who are future leaders in palliative care,” said Anthony Back, co-director of the UW Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence and UW professor of medicine (oncology). “The Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program is creating the next generation of leaders who will shape innovations, policies and systems to improve the quality of care for individuals living with serious illness and their families. For more on the 2015 cohort, see the Cambia Foundation website.

Events Bar

  • Biochemistry’s 29th Annual Hans Neurath Lecture, T-625 Health Sciences Building, Oct. 8 (4:30 p.m.) Speaker Prof. Susan Lindquist will give the talk, "From yeast to human IPS cells: A chemical biology discovery platform for protein folding diseases." Lindquist is a pioneer in the study of protein folding. She has shown that changes in protein folding can have profound and unexpected influences in fields as wide-ranging as human disease, evolution and nanotechnology. Lindquist is a member and former director (2001-2004) of Whitehead Institute, a professor of biology at MIT and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

  • The Human Right to Family Planning Conference, William Gates Hall, Oct. 9
    Sponsors include UW School of Law, UW Center for Law and Science in Global Health, UW School of Medicine, UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UW Department of Global Health and Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. For more information, see the website

  • "Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law in South Africa - Problems and Perils at 21," Kane Hall Room 130, (7-9 p.m.)
    Justice Edwin Cameron will describe his country's transition 21 years ago, after a deep history of racial injustice, to constitutional democracy aspiring to non-racialism, equality, dignity and social justice. Sponsors include UW Department of Global Health, UW Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), UW International Clinical Research Center, & defeatHIV Community Advisory Board. For more information, see the website.

  • Surgery's 66th Annual Alfred A. Strauss Lecture, Hogness Auditorium, Oct. 16 (4 p.m.)
    Speaker: Dr. Thomas M. Krummel, the Emile Holman professor, Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine; Co–Director, Stanford Biodesign and Susan B. Ford Surgeon–in–Chief Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

  • Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk, Oct. 17

    purpleUW Medicine is a big supporter of the American Heart Association's Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk, and we expect 1,050 walkers to join us. While the percentage of deaths due to heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases has fallen by nearly one-third since 1999, cardiovascular disease is still the leading killer in the United States according to the American Heart Association. Every day, more than 2,000 Americans die of cardiovascular disease. Currently the American Heart Association is funding $5.78 million in active research grants in the state of Washington; $5.3 million is funded at UW. Last year, UW Medicine raised $192,801.50, making UW Medicine the top fundraiser. Please register online at the UW Medicine Company Heart & Stroke Walk page. You can sign up as a team captain or you can join an existing team. You can also make a donation at any time to help us reach our goal. 

  • Free dental, vision and health clinic, Key Arena, Oct. 22-25

    Seattle's Key Arena will turn into a free health clinic October 22 to 25, offering medical, dental and vision care at no cost to underserved and vulnerable populations. Patients will be helped on a first-come, first-served basis. Organizers suggest coming to the event on Thursday or Friday, as they expect higher demand on Saturday and Sunday. In 2014, the clinic served 3,400 patients. For more information, see coverage on KING-TV NBC 5. 

  • CME course on faculty development: Teaching from afar: Evidence best practices for distance education, South Campus Center Room 316,  Oct. 27 (8:30 a.m.-noon)
    This workshop will introduce participants to distance learning technologies, describe challenges and opportunities in a decentralized medical education setting and provide strategies for enhancing teaching using distance education technologies. Workshop sponsor: Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education. Register on Catalyst.

    Continuing Medical Education
    Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes. 

    Note: Videos from the 2015 UW Mini-Medical School are now available on YouTube. 

In the News
Articles that involve UW Medicine and Health Science faculty staff, students and trainees.

  • Can open data drive innovative health care? Techonomy, Sept. 25, 2015
    Valuable health information remains locked in proprietary or hidden databases; a growing number of open data initiatives aim to change this. Peter Speyer, director of data development at UW's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, is quoted.
  • 'NIFTY' cup could be lifesaver for high-risk babies, KING-TV NBC 5, Sept. 24, 2015
    Seattle Children's Hospital, UW and PATH have collaborated on a feeding cup to help babies who can't feed properly. Christy McKinney, UW clinical assistant professor of oral health sciences, is quoted.

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