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Oct. 30 issue of UW Medicine Insight

High school students from the Northshore School District toured nuclear medicine and the Echo Lab at UW Medical Center Oct. 15. UW Medicine offers high school tours twice a month. For more information, contact Amy Nguyen at


and much more...

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


2015 WWAMI Curriculum is off to a great start

Dear Colleagues:

Since the August launch of the 2015 WWAMI Curriculum for our entering medical students, several significant milestones have been met. First, students at each partner university (University of Washington Seattle and Spokane, University of Wyoming, University of Alaska-Anchorage, Montana State University and University of Idaho) completed a multi-week immersion in basic clinical skills and related topics. Students have spoken very positively about this experience, citing an exciting medical school introduction, excellent clinical training, bonding with classmates and teachers and developing comfort and passion for working with patients.

Scientific foundation classes began September 8 with the launch of the first of seven blocks—Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease (MCBD). Brent Wisse, UW associate professor of medicine, and Jocelyn Krebs, professor of biology at University of Alaska-Anchorage, formed the first WWAMI block leadership team and worked with outstanding leaders and faculty from each partner site. Weekly faculty video- and teleconferences included as many as 30 individuals at a time working together.

MCBD classes across all sites used a variety of active learning approaches, from interactive lectures to team- and case-based learning—all with the same learning objectives, out-of-class resources and assessments. Students also received (and will continue to receive) exposure to “threads” that run throughout the curriculum—human form and function, pharmacology and pathology—and themes vital to a career in medicine, such as ethics, diversity, health equity and social determinants of health. These threads and themes will be increasingly integrated as the curriculum develops and matures.

During MCBD, students also began a clinical curriculum called Foundations of Clinical Medicine. This longitudinal course, led by UW faculty members Margaret Isaac and Karen McDonough and coordinated at each Foundations site by outstanding faculty leaders, provides a day each week of alternating clinical skills workshops and Primary Care Practicum, working closely with a community-based physician. Students also work biweekly with their College mentor and small group. This integrated approach helps students make clinical correlations to basic science and refines their skills and understanding of medicine.

This week, students started the second block, Invaders and Defenders, covering immunology, infectious diseases, microbiology and related topics. John Lynch, UW associate professor of medicine, and Cindy Knall, associate professor at University of Alaska-Anchorage, direct the block, working with block leaders at each site. After this block, students will have a one-week intersession—a weeklong period of rest, short enrichment courses and/or deeper study of blocks recently completed for students who want or need additional exposure. The intersessions, directed by Amanda Kost, UW assistant professor of family medicine, occur periodically throughout the curriculum.

Hundreds of people from all our WWAMI sites have made the new curriculum possible. A strong, collaborative, team-oriented effort has resulted in the first five state regional medical school curriculum in the nation—developed by and for our WWAMI states.

Thank you to all involved in making this a successful launch and thank you in particular to Michael Ryan, associate dean for curriculum, who has done an exceptional job leading this effort from its start five years ago. He has worked tirelessly and diplomatically through what at times seemed insurmountable obstacles. Michael has never veered from the conviction that, working together, the WWAMI partnership of educators could achieve remarkable results for our students. Thank you to Michael and to the hundreds of faculty, staff, students and others who are making this a very successful and promising launch!


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

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UW Medicine’s Heart Regeneration Program moving to clinical trials

Chuck Murry pulls transformed stem cells from a freezer (Photo by Clare McLean). For a video (2:22) from the Washington Research Foundation, click here.

A $10 million investment from the Washington Research Foundation will enable UW Medicine scientists to begin clinical trials of a treatment that has the potential to restore heart tissue in people who have suffered heart attacks.

Scientists in UW Medicine's two-year-old Heart Regeneration Program have been working on innovative heart disease treatment research where they grow embryonic stem cells into heart cells that can be injected into a heart attack patient's heart to rebuild his or her heart wall. The money gifted to the UW Medicine's Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine will fund the research, with the goal of completing a Phase 1 clinical trial in the next five years.

"Basically, we think we have a way we can grow people's hearts back," said Chuck Murry, interim director of the institute. For more on the story, see articles in Puget Sound Business Journal, The Seattle Times and HSNewsBeat.

“MED Talks” presented to donors with the UW Turner Society available

At the annual Turner Society donor recognition event, UW Medicine researchers gave the following talks, which are now available online: “Vision restoration on the horizon,” by Russell Van Gelder, director of the UW Medicine Eye Institute and the Boyd K. Bucey Memorial Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology; “Regenerating hair cells to save hearing at UW Medicine’s Bloedel Center,” by Jay T. Rubinstein, Virginia Merrill Bloedel Chair in Clinical Hearing Research; “Preventing age-related dementia: pursuing the root causes of Alzheimer’s,” by Thomas J. Montine, Nancy and Buster Alvord Chair in Neuropathology. To watch the videos, see the UW Medicine Turner Society website.

More research stories:

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U.S. trial’s first ‘heart in a box’ transplant recipient feels ‘like a million bucks’

Ted Daniels, 47, talks about being the first of dozens of patients in a trial testing a new device to transport organs. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times.)

Ted Daniels, a 47-year-old truck driver from Aberdeen, Washington, is recovering well after receiving a donor heart that was kept beating for eight hours in an investigational circulatory device known as “heart in a box.”

“I feel like a million bucks,” he said, as he and doctors at the UW Medical Center met with the media Oct. 14. “I get to watch my girls grow up; spend a couple more years with my wife… I wasn’t quite ready to check out. I’ve got so much more stuff to do.”

Daniels was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a decade ago. He was transplanted Sept. 16, 2015, with a donor heart that had traveled in the Organ Care System manufactured by TransMedics of Andover, Massachusetts.

Jason W. Smith, UW assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery, said the device “raises the possibility of bringing more hearts to our region.” One other UW Medicine patient has received a heart via the new technology, two of at least 55 people who are expected to be a part of the trial at the seven participating sites, Smith said. At least 15 UW Medicine patients who need the lifesaving operation and are eligible have consented to participate, he said. For more on the story, see coverage in The Seattle Times, KING-TV NBC 5, and HSNewsBeat.

Turning the prescription opioid epidemic around

Mark Sullivan, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and executive director of UW’s COPE for Chronic Pain CME, said turning around the opioid epidemic won’t happen instantly, but providers can take basic steps now to end the prescription opioid epidemic and improve treatment of patients with chronic pain.

The UW COPE for Chronic Pain CME Program offers evidence-based clinical knowledge and training on how best to treat patients experiencing chronic pain. COPE CME helps clinicians assess patients and monitor their progress, mitigate risk, and focus on restoring function and quality of life. It provides guidance on when and how to start, stop, or modify opioid therapies. COPE’s online course includes case-based video vignettes that model interactions between providers and patients, helping to improve communications that promote trust. Live and web-based CME is available. Learn more at:

Related clinical stories:

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UW psychiatry to help expand mental health services throughout the state

Anna Ratzliff, director of the UW Integrated Training Program: “We believe there should be no wrong door for patients presenting with these disabling conditions.” (Photo courtesy of Ratzliff.)

The UW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science has launched a new program to expand mental health services across the state through funding from the Washington State Legislature. The program will train psychiatrists to partner and consult with primary care providers and other healthcare workers to improve access to evidence-based mental health care in every county in the state. Washington state’s mental healthcare system recently ranked 48th in the nation, according to a report by Mental Health America, highlighting the need to strengthen the existing system.

The UW Integrated Care Training Program will be the first in the country to train psychiatrists specifically to partner with primary care providers and other healthcare professionals in primary care clinics, community health centers, rural access hospitals, school-based health centers and correctional facilities. This program will expand the training of UW psychiatry residents in integrated-care psychiatry and will create a one-year clinical fellowship for psychiatrists who seek additional specialty training in integrated care. The program will also provide continuing medical education opportunities for practicing psychiatrists.

“Our vision is to train psychiatric consultants who can support every healthcare provider in the state to help patients living with mental health and substance-use disorders,” said Anna Ratzliff, UW associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the UW Integrated Training Program. “We believe there should be no wrong door for patients presenting with these disabling conditions.” The program is being funded at $2 million a year for four years. For more on the story, see article on HSNewsBeat.


Medical students, small towns and the power of relationships

Scott Hippe, left, and preceptor Dr. Tobe Harberd in Chelan. (Photo courtesy of Hippe.)

Scott Hippe, fourth-year medical student at the UW School of Medicine, wrote about his small-town experience that led to a big career decision. His article was published Oct. 13 in Academic Medicine Blog.

‘‘Before ever setting foot in a medical school classroom, I spent a week observing competent, compassionate rural physicians care for the diverse health needs of their community. This was the first of my experiences participating in the WWAMI Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST) Program — described in a recent report by Greer and colleagues — which paired me with a small town in north-central Washington state named Chelan. Entering the program I had few expectations and little idea where it would take me. 

‘‘Now, over three years after my first experience, the program has guided my career plans. I will be entering a family medicine residency with a rural emphasis and I intend to practice in an underserved area in the Pacific Northwest. What between then and now sent me down this path? In a word, relationships.’’ For more on his story, see article in Academic Medicine blog.

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Collagen expert David Eyre is UW Medicine Inventor of the Year

David Eyre, UW professor of orthopedics and sports medicine, was named the 2015 UW Medicine Inventor of the Year for pioneering a diagnostic test to measure bone loss. He will be recognized Nov. 5 at a ceremony at the UW Medicine building in South Lake Union.

Eyre has spent a half-century researching the biochemistry of collagen, a protein polymer that forms the essential framework of our bones and cartilage. He developed the diagnostic in 1985 based on biomarkers, a technology ahead of its time. Thirty years later, his tool, called Osteomark NTx, is widely used by pharmaceutical companies to analyze the effectiveness of drugs in slowing bone turnover and preventing loss.

For more on his discovery, including why it’s so hard to come up with a replacement for joint cartilage, view our Q&A on HSNewsBeat.

Spokane’s William G. Sayres, Jr. holds first Smith Family Endowed Chair in Medicine

William G. Sayres, Jr.

The University of Washington Board of Regents has confirmed William G. Sayres, Jr., as the inaugural holder of the Smith Family Endowed Chair in Medicine. Sayres, a highly regarded family physician, is a clinical faculty member of the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine, and has been a leader in the Spokane medical community for more than 20 years. This new endowed chair marks a significant investment in expanded medical education in eastern Washington. As assistant dean for the UW School of Medicine in Spokane, Sayres directs the primary pre-clinical education, also known as the Foundations phase of the medical education curriculum, in Spokane. The Foundations phase encompasses the first 18 months of the curriculum and is completed by all UW medical students. The Smith Family Endowed Chair in Medicine was established by Marian E. Smith, Daniel and Morgan Smith, and Deborah and Jim Heg.

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2015 Roux Prize Winner: Dr. Agnes Binagwaho

The UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has awarded the 2015 Roux Prize to Agnes Binagwaho, a trained pediatrician and Minister of Health of Rwanda. She is the second winner of the Roux Prize, a US $100,000 award for turning evidence into health impact, and the largest prize of its kind. Dr. Binagwaho has been using Global Burden of Disease (GBD) data and evidence from the Ministry’s own data-gathering efforts to ensure the country’s limited resources are saving the most lives and reducing suffering. Learn more at And for more on the award, view the video on YouTube.

Bonnie Ramsey named to National Academy of Medicine

Pediatrician Bonnie Ramsey talks to one of her young patients. (Seattle Children’s).

Bonnie W. Ramsey, a UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s pediatrician specializing in lung diseases, was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine). Ramsey is a leader in cystic fibrosis clinical care and research and holds a UW Medicine Endowed Chair in Cystic Fibrosis Research named in her honor.

Ramsey also directs the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Seattle Children’s. UW Medicine now has 35 faculty elected to the National Academy of Medicine. For the full list, view the UW Medicine website. And for more on the story, see the article on HSNewsBeat.

UW has two Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Awards

Heather Cheng and Michael Schweizer, UW assistant professors in medicine (oncology), received Young Investigator Awards from the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Young Investigator Awards are given to exceptional early career scientists who will pioneer and transform new biotechnologies into saving lives of prostate cancer patients. Each award totals $225,000. The two were among 19 awardees out of 109 applicants, according to the foundation. For more on the awards, see the Prostate Cancer Foundation website.

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  • Science in Medicine presents Susan Collins, Turner Auditorium, Nov. 4, 2015 (1-2 p.m.)
    Collins, UW associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will present a New Investigator Lecture: "Meeting people where they’re at: Community-based harm reduction treatment for alcohol use disorders."

    Collins is co-director of the UW Harm Reduction Research and Treatment (HaRRT ) lab, which works with a multidisciplinary research and clinical team, community-based agencies, healers from different traditions, and substance-using community members. Together, they co-develop and evaluate harm-reduction interventions that aim to reduce substance-related harm and improve quality of life for affected individuals and their communities. For more information, see the flier and the Science in Medicine Lecture Series website. (The Science in Medicine Lecture Series is celebrating 40 years of outstanding science this year.)

  • Transforming Injury and Violence Prevention Summit, Seattle Airport Marriott, Nov. 13
    The one-day summit coordinated by the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice - Public Health Training Center, Washington State Department of Health and Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center will bring together decision makers, leaders and researchers from healthcare, public health and community organizations to address the role of policy, practice and partnerships in 21st century injury and violence prevention. Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman will open the conference. Registration closed Oct. 24. For more information, see the conference website.

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