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Jan. 15 issue of UW Medicine Insight

Peter Neligan (pictured above), director of the Center for Reconstructive Surgery at UWMC, talks about face transplant surgery in a UW Medicine Pulse podcast. Also, patient Dawn Shaw, who consults with Neligan, blogs about why she wants to tell her story to TLC. See her blog, Facing Up to It
Jan. 15, 2016


and much more...

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



HOUSE, the Journal of Housestaff Quality & Safety, debuts

UW Medicine’s residents and fellows play a vital role in caring for patients in our hospitals and clinics. In 2012, the Office of Graduate Medical Education (GME), under the leadership of Byron Joyner, vice dean for graduate medical education, inaugurated the UW Medicine Housestaff Quality & Safety Committee (HQSC), a trainee-led organization that engages members in quality and safety activities throughout our training sites. Their work is exemplary. The group meets throughout the year to learn the skills needed to lead and improve complex systems and also serves as the housestaff voice on quality and safety by participating in many forums throughout UW Medicine. More than 40 residents representing 21 specialties are on the committee. They receive guidance from 10 outstanding faculty advisors. Another 100 housestaff attend hospital quality and safety committee meetings on an ad hoc basis.

Recently, HQSC launched HOUSE, the Journal of Housestaff Quality & Safety, to showcase the exceptional work undertaken by our trainees to advance the quality, safety and value of patient care delivered across UW Medicine. During the 2014-2015 academic year, HQSC subcommittees tackled projects that included promoting use of bedside whiteboards to enhance discharge planning, evaluating depression screening workflow at a primary care clinic, overhauling the post-operative transfer-of-care process at Harborview Medical Center, and improving computerized ordering of influenza screening tests to reduce waste and lower costs. Descriptions of these and other projects are presented in HOUSE. It is gratifying to see our talented, dedicated trainees take such an active role translating the UW Medicine Patients Are First pillars from concept into everyday clinical practice.

I urge you to review the inaugural issue. Many individuals have been involved in both HQSC and developing the journal. Current HQSC co-chairs are Vlad Golgotiu, second-year resident in anesthesiology & pain medicine, and Chenwei Wu, internal medicine chief resident in quality & patient safety. Irving Ye, fourth-year resident in anesthesiology & pain medicine, who served last year as HQSC co-chair with Nick Meo, is editor-in-chief of the first issue of HOUSE. Nick, now an attending hospitalist at the Seattle VA, was recently appointed GME co-director of quality & safety; he will serve alongside Lisa McIntyre, associate professor of surgery. Their efforts are supported by an outstanding GME team including Byron Joyner, Amity Neumeister and Gabrielle Pett. Thank you to each of these individuals and to all committee members and faculty advisors for your dedication to safe, excellent patient care. Your work plays a vitally important role in achieving our mission of 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


Research bar

Progress towards creating a broad-spectrum antiviral went viral

A scientist's illustration of immunology research at UW Medicine's South Lake Union campus. (Photo by Dennis Wise.)

News from the UW Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease on progress towards a broad-spectrum antiviral becomes one of the Top 10 trending science stories on Facebook December 18 when news is released from research published in the Journal of Virology.

UW researchers working in collaboration with Kineta Inc. and the University of Texas at Galveston have shown that making a drug-like molecule to turn on innate immunity can induce genes to control infection in several known viruses. The findings, published online Dec. 18, show promising evidence for creating a broad-spectrum antiviral that can suppress a range of RNA viruses, including West Nile, dengue virus, hepatitis C, influenza A, respiratory syncytial, Nipah, Lassa and Ebola.

Michael Gale Jr., UW professor of immunology and director of the UW Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease, is one of the authors. For more information, see story on HSNewsBeat, Gizmag, Dispatch Tribunal, Science Daily among others.

Repetitive blast exposure causes cerebellar dysfunction in combat veterans

Study shows combat veterans suffer similar brain injuries as boxers. (Image from ThinkStock.)

A team of brain injury experts led by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and UW Medicine found that the more blasts veterans are exposed to, the more they show chronic changes in neuron activity in specific brain regions. The researchers also found that in mild blast-exposed mice, neurons are lost in the same brain regions, and that the pattern of loss is similar to findings in retired boxers seen more than 40 years ago.

Their findings, “Repetitive blast exposure in mice and combat veterans causes persistent cerebellar dysfunction,” published in Science Translational Medicine January 13, are helping to uncover the mysteries of how combat veterans have been injured by repetitive blast exposure. These results can help guide the search for more effective treatments, said David Cook, VA scientist and UW research associate professor of medicine and pharmacology. For more on the story, see release on HSNewsBeat and coverage in The Seattle TimesKUOW, Reuters, KPLU among others.

Wearable device suppresses growth of brain-cancer cells

A wearable device that creates electrical fields to suppress cancer cells’ proliferation in the brain was so effective at extending patients’ survival that the clinical trial in which it was being tested was ended early. Optune, the battery-powered, cap-like device, when paired with standard-care temozolomide chemotherapy, significantly prolonged progression-free and overall survival of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma, compared with patients who received temozolomide alone.

Findings were published Dec. 15 in JAMA. “We should add this modality to what we’re currently doing for our patients,” said Maciej Mrugala, UW associate professor of neurology in the Division of Neuro-Oncology, who led UW Medicine’s participation in the clinical trial. For more information, see article on HSNewsBeat.

More research stories involving UW Medicine:

Clinical Bar

Great reception at new clinic opening in Olympia

Harry the Husky gives a high five to young visitors at the open house. (Photo by Clare McLean, UW Medicine.)

More than 300 people turned out for an open house Jan. 9 welcoming a UW Medicine neighborhood clinic in Olympia, the 11th UW Medicine clinic in the state.

Attendees were treated to healthy snacks, the Husky Pep Band, Harry the Husky, Mr. Yuk, first-aid myth busters, live Latin jazz, giveaways, tours of the clinic and meet-and-greets with the clinicians. A dozen pieces of local art decorate the 12,600 square-foot facility, located on Ensign Road in N.E. Olympia.

The primary care clinic is a collaboration between UW Medicine and Olympia’s Capital Medical Center and offers care for acute illness and injury, women’s healthcare, preventive medicine, medical screening and chronic disease management, as well as an onsite lab and X-ray. The clinic opened with three providers: Clinic Chief Eunice Chen, MD; Hollie Matthews, MD; and Theresa Duggan, ARNP. A second ARNP will join the team next month. For photos of the event, see the UW Medicine Facebook album

UW physician joins Gov. Inslee in plan to reduce gun violence

Prof. Monica Vavilala is a huge advocate of locking up guns so they don’t accidentally fall into the wrong hands. (Photo courtesy of KING-TV NBC 5.)

Monica Vavilala, UW professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics and director of ‪Harborview‘s Injury and Prevention Research Center, joined Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Jan. 6 as he announced a new initiative to reduce gun-related deaths by strengthening background checks and implementing a statewide suicide prevention plan. Vavilala advocates for locking up guns among other measures. (For more information about safe storage of firearms, visit

See coverage on the UW websiteKING-TV NBC 5New York Times, Seattle Times, KOMO-TV ABC 4, KIRO-TV CBS 7, Spokesman-Review.

More clinical stories involving UW Medicine:

  • Antidepressants during pregnancy: Stay on them or stop? U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 13, 2016
    In December, two new studies on taking antidepressant drugs during pregnancy drew a lot of attention. Dr. Bryan King, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the UW, wrote an accompanying journal editorial about one study, putting it into perspective.
  • Better treatment for breast cancer hasn't boosted the benefit of mammograms, study says, LA Times, Jan. 11, 2016
    Cancer screening is supposed to reduce cancer deaths by finding tumors early and, presumably, when they are easier to treat. But a new study by the UW and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center finds that improvements in treatment have barely changed the benefit of screening mammograms.
  • Opinion | Stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms, Seattle Times, Jan. 5, 2016
    "Around 70 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for use on livestock and poultry, often on animals that aren’t even sick..." writes Dr. Scott Weissman, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the UW, with Andrew Gage of WashPIRG.
  • Ask Well: Is day-old kale salad less nutritious than fresher kale?New York Times, Jan. 5, 2016
    There is a gradual loss in nutrient content in kale or any fresh fruit or vegetable from the moment it is picked. But the decrease is so minor that the health benefits of consuming the leftover salad would still be high. Anne-Marie Gloster, lecturer of epidemiology at the UW, is quoted.
  • We’re thinking about ADHD all wrong, says a top pediatrician, NPR, Jan. 4, 2016.
    Dimitri Christakis, UW professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s, writes an editorial in JAMA.
  • Seaweed capsules may help diabetes patients lead insulin injection-free life, Tech Times, Jan. 2, 2016
    Scientists have developed a breakthrough hydrogel seaweed capsule that can help diabetes patients lead an injection-free life. The study was conducted in collaboration with the UW and Wuhan University of Technology in China.
  • Will Smith shines light on dark side of sport he loves, Sports Illustrated, Dec. 22, 2015
    Will Smith's new film "Concussion" reveals the impact the game of football has on players later in life. Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the UW and the co-chairman of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee, is mentioned.
  • Teens who self-harm are using secret hashtags to connect on Instagram, say Seattle researchers, KPLU, Dec. 21, 2105
    Adolescents who engage in self-harm, such as cutting, are using covert hashtags to connect on social media, according to a new study by Seattle researchers. Dr. Megan Moreno, associate professor of pediatrics at the UW, is quoted.
  • Here's how to actually not get sick when you travel, BuzzFeed, Dec. 18, 2015
    Tips for staying healthy while traveling. Dr. Christopher Sanford, associate professor of global health at the UW, is quoted.
  • The book ‘Dreamland’ chronicles America’s opiate nightmare, Seattle Times, Dec. 16, 2015
    'Dreamland' documents how the prescription-opiate epidemic in America intersected with the heroin scourge, as a crackdown on prescription opiates turned people addicted to Vicodin, OxyContin and other opiates toward cheap Mexican heroin. UW Pain Center founder John Bonica is mentioned.
  • Non-invasive brain cancer treatment offers hope for Spokane woman, Spokesman-Review, Dec. 15, 2015
    Jayne Crouch was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer. Doctors said her chances of surviving two years were 2 to 3 percent with chemotherapy. A new treatment option could increase those odds. Dr. Maciej Mrugala, a neuro-oncologist at the UW School of Medicine, is quoted.
  • A new study raises old questions about antidepressants and autism, NPR, Dec. 14, 2015
    Taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder, according to a new study. Dr. Bryan King, a UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences not affiliated with the study, is quoted. Also coverage on CBS News; UPI; New York Times.
  • Data breach costs UW Medicine $750,000, KIRO-TV CBS 7, Dec. 15, 2015
    UW Medicine will pay $750,000 to patients after a data breach put their information at risk. Ninety-thousand patients were affected after an employee downloaded a malicious email attachment. Also coverage in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Education Bar

An inspiring look back at 2015

Students, teachers, researchers and physicians talk about their past year at UW Medicine in a five-minute video produced by UW Medicine Advancement. From standing up to cancer, to being a great mentor, to being chosen to make a TED Talk, their comments show vision, compassion and generosity. View the video here.

The dream becomes real for MEDEX student Simon Mendoza

Simon Mendoza at the offices of MEDEX Northwest in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of MEDEX Northwest.)

Simon Mendoza emigrated to Washington state from Michoacán, Mexico, with his parents and nine brothers and sisters in search of a better life. The family lived in Grandview with an uncle, who also had nine children; Mendoza’s father became a farmworker. Growing up, his family would travel 25 miles to a medical clinic in Othello for health services.

Now a student in his clinical year with the MEDEX Northwest physician assistant program, Mendoza is putting his new skills to use in the same Othello clinic. At the Columbia Basin Health Association Othello Family Clinic, where he’s doing his four-month family medicine preceptorship, Mendoza says he feels right at home. The mission statement of the clinic speaks to its focus on migrant farmworkers: “Keeping healthy those who feed the world.” Read more on his journey in MEDEX Magazine.

Related links:


UW medical students' unique training: 6 weeks in Northwest outposts

Julie Middleton, 28, and Kayla McMahon, 25, are UW medical students in rural Montana. (Photo by Paula G. McGarvey for The Montana Standard.)

Julie Middleton from Billings, Mont., and Kayla McMahon from Helena, Mont., are among the UW medical students providing care this winter in rural and underserved Northwest outposts. The two participate in the School of Medicine’s Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST, which aims to get primary care into areas where it traditionally is lacking.

They are training at the Southwest Montana Community Health Center in Butte, Montana. The local paper wrote about “the new faces in the exam rooms.”

Students visit their designated TRUST communities numerous times during their training. This includes two weeks prior to their first year of medical school and again in their second year, for one month during the summer. At this time, they work on a community project. Middleton worked on a suicide prevention project in Butte, and McMahon worked on a sexual education project in Helena.

The WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE)  program expands on TRUST, giving third-year medical students a mix of opportunities and experiences where they learn to diagnose, treat and manage a broad range of patient health issues and conditions. This allows them to develop their practice style and simultaneously benefits rural or underserved regions in the Pacific Northwest where they are assigned. For more on the story, see article in The Montana Standard.

People Bar

Paris climate change conference big deal for health

Prof. Kristie Ebi gave two presentations at side events; one for 200 people on the effects of climate change on health.

Kristie Ebi, UW professor of global health, who has attended United Nations climate-change conferences since 2000, said the agreement reached at the Paris conference in December was nothing short of monumental.

“It showed that world governments agree climate change is a serious problem and they are committed to addressing it,” Ebi said. She’s an expert on the health risks of climate change and how humans adapt to it. She addressed conference attendees on Dec. 5 and 11.

Ebi sat for a Q&A about her experience in Paris.
Q: What was the atmosphere of the conference?
A: There was tremendous spirit of collaboration to reach an agreement. The French and the secretariat for the United Nations did an incredible job on all scales, from having welcoming kiosks at the airports, to hiring people from the local community as greeters when delegates took buses to the venue, to doing an amazing job on the diplomatic end. It’s quite clear from countries’ comments that the agreement was as strong as possible at this time. See the full Q&A with Ebi on HSNewsBeat.

Events Bar

  • It's time to begin registering for UW Medicine's Mini-Medical School
    UW Medicine’s popular Mini-Medical School runs this year 7-9 p.m.on Tuesdays from Feb. 2-March 8, and is filling fast. The free sessions give a quick, but in-depth look behind some of the important medical issues of the day. For the first session on Feb 2, Renato Martins, UW professor of medicine (oncology) will be joined by Douglas Wood, acting chair and professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, to discuss current tools and resources available to physicians and patients to develop comprehensive cancer treatment plans. For more information, see the Mini-Med website.

  • Recognize exceptional alumni (Deadline Jan. 15, 2016)
    People educated at the UW School of Medicine — researchers, physicians, medical technologists, physician assistants, residents and fellows and other graduates — benefit our communities and enrich the world of medicine. Once a year, the UW School of Medicine Alumni Association honors exceptional alumni with several awards presented during reunion weekend. Please take a moment to nominate a deserving alumnus for one of these awards: the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Alumni Humanitarian Award, the Medical Alumni Service Award and the Alumni Early Achievement Award. Who’s eligible? Anyone who has received a degree from — or completed residency or fellowship training in — a program administered by the UW School of Medicine. Learn more and submit a nomination at A nomination form is available here.

  • New Year's Health Fair, Magnuson Park Community Center, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 (9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.)
    Student health professionals and mentors from the UW schools of pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, physical therapy and speech and hearing sciences will be offering free services to the community. The fair will take place at the Magnuson Park Community Center The Brig (near the dog park), 6344 N.E. 74th St., Seattle, 98115. For more information.

  • What really happens at an NIH study review, SLU, Feb. 4, 2016 (3-4 p.m.)
    Institute of Translational Health Sciences presents a career development event. Dr. Paul Martin will leverage his experience as a seasoned National Institutes of Health grant reviewer, including his tenure as chair of the Cancer Immunopathology and Immunotherapy Study Section, to provide insight into the workings of NIH study sections. RSVP here. 

  • Diabetes Research Center seeks applications for research awards and graduate fellowships, (Deadline Feb. 16, 2016.)
    The UW Diabetes Research Center is soliciting applications for the Pilot & Feasibility Research Awards and Stroum Graduate Fellowship Awards. The required forms are available at their website. Letters of Intent and reviewer nomination forms are due by Jan. 4, 2016. The deadline for applications is Feb. 16.

  • 2016 Northwest Regional Conference on African Immigrant Health, UW, March 19-20, 2016
    The theme of the 2016 conference is "Addressing the Social Determinants of African Immigrant Health.” Hosted by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Regional Operations and Office of Minority Health, Region X and EthnoMed, a joint program of Harborview Medical Center and the UW Health Sciences Library.  To register and for more information.

In the News

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

  • Top HSNewsBeat stories for 2015
  • Seattle-based VICIS unveils new design for football helmets, Washington Post, Jan. 13, 2016
    A new football helmet with an exterior shell that can absorb hits like a car bumper and has four layers of protection was unveiled Tuesday by UW-startup VICIS, which hopes the benefit of protection will offset an expensive purchase price. (This AP story appeared in several outlets). Geekwire; CBS Seattle, Puget Sound Business Journal, Bloomberg.
  • West Coast states dropping prescription requirement for birth control, Crosscut, Jan. 11, 2016
    This month, Oregon became the first state in the nation to allow women to get birth control pills or patches from a pharmacist without a doctor’s prescription. A UW study is referenced.
  • Editorial | Expand coverage with dental therapists and Medicaid reimbursements, Seattle Times, Jan. 9, 2016
    "Too many of Washington's residents insured by Medicaid are not able to get the dental care they need..." writes The Seattle Times Editorial Board. A partnership between the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the UW is mentioned.
  • Itchy eyes? Sneezing? Maybe blame that allergy on Neanderthals, NPR, Jan. 7, 2016
    Many people have Neanderthal genes in their DNA that predispose them to allergies, two studies published Thursday have found. Josh Akey, a professor of genome sciences at the UW who is not affiliated with either study, is quoted.
  • UW study: Students choosing healthier food under new standards, Seattle Times, Jan. 6, 2016
    The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act has significantly improved the nutritional quality of student meals in the Renton School District, UW researchers found in a new study. Also coverage in New York Times (Donna Johnson, professor in the School of Public Health at the UW, is quoted.) Huffington Post; CNN; Pacific Standard Magazine; Christian Science Monitor.
  • Afraid of the dentist? This strategy can help, CBS News, Jan. 5, 2016
    Many people are familiar with the fear that can precede a visit to the dentist, but new research shows that talk therapy can help when that anxiety becomes a crippling phobia. Dr. Peter Milgrom, professor of dental public health sciences and pediatric dentistry, is quoted.
  • Brain implant that could reanimate paralyzed limbs secures $16M in funding, Motherboard, Jan. 3, 2016
    The National Science Foundation recently awarded the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the University of Washington a $16 million grant for research that will hopefully lead to implantable tech that promotes brain plasticity and the reanimation of paralyzed limbs.
  • High-tech gear aims to lessen deadly risk of football concussions, USA Today, Dec. 24, 2015
    After years of neglect, football teams are looking at everything from new-fangled helmets and neck contraptions to injury-risk monitoring systems, shock-absorbing turf and mandated spa days. The UW and UW startup VICIS are developing a new impact-absorbing football helmet.
  • The NFL's concussion problem, Sports Illustrated, Dec. 23, 2015
    On Christmas Day, a wide-release feature film will spread the story of CTE’s (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) discovery in football players — and the NFL’s years of inaction in combating head trauma — to moviegoers everywhere. UW startup VICIS and its new impact-absorbing helmet are mentioned
  • Yes, helicopter parenting happens, even at the doctor's office, Huffington Post, Dec. 20, 2015
    Part of raising a teenager is figuring when and how to let go of the reins so adolescents learn to make smart choices on their own. Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the UW, is quoted.
  • UW startup working on regrowing organs, KOMO-TV ABC 4, Dec. 19, 2015
    Scientists have discovered a cell in our bodies that can be used to regenerate organs. UW startup, miPS Labs, is working on preserving people's cells now to regrow organs later.
  • This startup wants to freeze your cells now to repair your body later, Geekwire, Dec. 18, 2015
    Regenerative medicine — the idea of generating new cells to replace damaged tissues — hasn’t gone mainstream yet. But miPS Labs says it’s never too early to start planning for what could be the next big wave in the treatment of disease. Alex Jiao, miPS co-founder, is also a UW doctoral student.
  • Many parents don't notice when their kids are overweight, Huffington Post, Dec. 16, 2015
    Many parents don’t realize when their children are overweight and so they fail to help the youngsters shed excess pounds, an Australian study suggests. Davene Wright, researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the UW, is quoted.
  • A smartwatch for the visually impaired, Huffington Post, Dec. 15, 2015
    When a group of students at the UW saw a fellow classmate struggling with big heavy Braille books to study, it sparked an idea that could change the way the visually impaired interact with technology. The students created a startup to develop and produce a Braille smartwatch, called Dot.
  • Gov. Inslee talks climate change at UW, KIRO-TV CBS 7, Dec. 14, 2015
    Governor Inslee talked with students at the UW about climate. Inslee regularly hosts meetings to talk about climate with students.
  • Don't do this to your child: The way you reprimand could have long-term effects, Fox News, Dec. 11, 2015
    By the age of 5, children have a sense of self-esteem as strong as an adult’s, according to a new study by the UW, which explains that this important personality trait is already in place before children begin kindergarten, and it remains relatively stable across one’s lifespan.

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