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Aug. 21 issue of UW Medicine Insight


Local artists created immersive, colorful window art now on display at Harborview Medical Center. This artwork was funded through King County’s 1% for Art Program, managed by 4Culture. See story on HSNewsBeat.

and much more...

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



Report to Washington State Medical Association; visit from HHS Secretary Burwell

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to send you the 2015 UW School of Medicine Report to the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA). This annual mid-year compilation of UW School of Medicine events, milestones and accomplishments portrays the challenges and opportunities we addressed over the past year. It also summarizes a few of the many ways in which our faculty, staff, students and trainees contribute to the community. 

The Washington State Medical Association is a wonderful partner in our collective work together of improving health for all people. The organization, its leaders and members support our teaching program through selflessly welcoming students and residents into their practices. By doing so, they help to prepare and nurture the next generation of healthcare professionals. WSMA also partners with us in significant policy and legislative efforts. The value of this partnership cannot be underestimated. The long-standing bond between the UW School of Medicine and WSMA remains a vital part of our work and a strong source of pride.

From left to right: Sen. Murray, Secretary Burwell, myself.

I would like to thank the leaders and members of the Washington State Medical Association for the many ways you serve the state and nation through your outstanding contributions.

Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell traveled to UW Medicine Aug. 17 to highlight efforts to build a healthcare system that delivers better care, spends our dollars more wisely, and puts educated, and empowered consumers at the center of their care. 
Burwell was joined by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and myself to host a roundtable discussion with hospital leaders representing rural and urban facilities in Washington state.  Stakeholders shared the challenges and opportunities they face while moving towards a healthcare system that delivers value over volume. Burwell and Murray praised the efforts and leadership that Washington state is taking towards a better future for healthcare.


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

New Day NW segment on dog aging

Rose Bingham and her dog, Rascal.  Photo courtesy of KING-TV 5 NBC.

KING-TV’s afternoon program, New Day NW, interviewed Matt Kaeberlein, UW professor of pathology, on his lab’s project to extend the life of dogs. The project involves giving dogs low doses of rapamycin, a compound used to prevent organ transplant rejection in people. 

One of the participants, Rascal, 9, and his owner, Rose Bingham, are also interviewed. Two phases of the study are using middle-aged dogs between 6 and 9. For more on the story and to enroll your dog, see interview on KING-TV 5 NBC and project website.

How researchers should handle video crews

Many UW Medicine faculty and staff are approached by reporters from local and international markets. It is critical for everyone who is contacted by these journalists, bloggers and reporters to reach out to the UW Medicine Strategic Marketing & Communications team. One of our primary focuses is helping to tell the UW Medicine story through traditional, digital and social media. All press releases and interviews should be scheduled or routed through the media relations team. Frequently, interviews will involve filming at various locations throughout the organization. For these types of documentary projects, a specific UW Medicine facility agreement must be signed prior to filming. This document protects the interests of UW Medicine and ensures that the footage will be used for its intended purpose. We do not sign facility agreements that the media outlet provides.

If filming is to occur in patient care areas, the UW Medicine media relations team ensures that all applicable guidelines, including HIPAA, are followed to protect our patients and ensure their privacy. This includes filming in the OR and in areas where one might believe that the patient’s identity will not be revealed. Often film crews will ask to film in areas such as the primate center which requires special permission and a requirement that all reporters and their camera crew members are up-to-date on TB and other vaccinations.

It is our policy to accompany all film crews when they are on UW Medicine premises. In addition to ensuring that the proper documentation is completed, we can help problem-solve issues, help with lining up B-roll and generally allow faculty to do their interview without concern for the myriad details that frequently accompany these interviews and video shoots. If you have any questions, please call the media relations team at 206-543-3620. 

More research stories:

  • Experimental gel partially protects against genital herpes, Fox News & Business, Aug. 6, 2015
    An experimental vaginal gel containing a drug used to treat the AIDS virus could prevent half of cases of genital herpes, according to a study done in South Africa. Connie Celum, UW professor of global health and director of the UW International Clinical Research Center, comments.  

Clinical Bar

NFL gives $2.5M to launch UW center to study concussions

Peter McLoughlin, president of the Seattle Seahawks and Paul Ramsey. Photo by Clare McLean/UW Medicine.

A $2.5 million donation from the National Football League (NFL) will kick off the newly formed UW Medicine Sports Health and Safety Institute aimed at advancing research, education and advocacy to prevent sports-related concussions. The institute also will study how to make sports and activities safer. 

The institute will be led by Richard Ellenbogen, chair of UW Medicine’s Department of Neurological Surgery, and Stanley Herring, medical director of Spine, Sports and Orthopedic Health. For more on the story, see coverage in HSNewsBeat,The Seattle TimesKUOW 94.9 FM, Seattle P-I/AP, KPLU and KCPQ 13.

UW Medicine team helps on second gorilla surgery 

More than 25 medical specialists joined the Woodland Park Zoo’s veterinary team and donated their time and expertise to help Vip, the 36-year-old, 430-pound gorilla. This is the second surgery for Vip (short for Very Important Primate) for a chronic sinus infection. Greg Davis, UW associate professor of otolaryngology and director of rhinology and endoscopic skull base surgery, led the medical teams for both surgeries. “Fortunately, the polyps and infection found in Vip were minor compared to what was found a year ago,” he said. For photos, see the Woodland Park Zoo blog.

Dangerous rates of co-prescribing opioids and sedatives 

Mark Sullivan, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the executive director of COPE for Chronic Pain CME at the UW School of Medicine, issues commentary in the August 2015 issue of the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety on the risks of prescribing opioids and sedatives. “We are making progress on decreasing opioid prescribing, but co-prescribing of opioids and sedatives have not decreased.”

Sullivan said most prescription opioid deaths commonly involve alcohol, sedatives and/or illicit drugs such as heroin. But the most fatal combination is opioids and common benzodiazepines, which are medications prescribed for depression, anxiety and sleep. For more information, see the release from COPE.

More clinical stories:

  • What to do when your baby falls, Huffington Post, Aug. 18, 2015
    Tony Woodward, UW professor of pediatric emergency medicine and chief of emergency medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital, is quoted.
  • Seahawks notebook: Jesse Williams returns months after cancer surgery, Tacoma News Tribune, Aug. 15, 2015
    No one was thinking about Seahawks defensive tackle Jesse Williams playing in Friday's preseason game 2 1/2 months ago. The work of surgeons at the UW Medical Center is noted.
  • EnChroma's accidental spectacles find niche among the colorblind, New York Times, Aug. 15, 2015
    Don McPherson invented lenses meant for surgeons, but he found an entirely different use for them: as a possible treatment for colorblindness. Jay Neitz, UW professor of ophthalmology, is quoted.
  • Testing for more breast cancer genes offers useful information, Fox News &  Business, Aug. 14, 2015
    New tests for breast cancer risk mutations beyond the well-known BRCA genes would offer actionable information for many women and their doctors, a new study finds. Elizabeth Swisher, UW professor of obstetrics and gynecology, is quoted.
  • High-risk medical devices backed by few studies, Fox News & Business, Aug. 11, 2015
    Many high-risk therapeutic devices get FDA approval with only one study proving their safety and efficacy before going to market. Bruce Psaty, UW professor of general internal medicine, is quoted.  
  • Teen misses Taylor Swift concert due to brain surgery, KING-TV NBC 5, Aug. 9, 2015
    A Washington teenager who missed a Taylor Swift concert after she had brain surgery is getting a lot of positive feedback from fans on social media. Michael Levitt, UW assistant professor of neurological surgery and radiology, is quoted.  
  • Tattooing may be ancient, but safety questions remain, Fox News & Business, Aug. 7, 2015
    Little is actually known about the long-term risks of tattooing. Michi Shinohara, UW clinical assistant professor of medicine/dermatology comments. [This Reuters story appeared in several outlets.]  

Education Bar

Q&A with chair of UW Department of Bioethics & Humanities

Denise Dudzinski, Ph.D.

In March, Denise Dudzinski was named the new chair of the UW Department of Bioethics & Humanities, a small department that works on big issues – end-of-life care, responsible conduct of research and social justice.

“Ethics provides a kind of scaffolding and language for the moral life. It helps people see moral issues from a variety of perspectives and better understand the reasons that people sometimes – quite reasonably – disagree with each other. We hope this promotes better understanding and tolerance.” Dudzinski said her moral awareness started at an early age when her family moved to Riyad, Saudi Arabia. Find out more about the department through a Q&A with the chair. 

UW No. 3 in the world for medicine and pharmacy, according to global ranking

The Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University released its global rankings Aug. 15 of the top 500 universities globally and UW was ranked third in the fields of clinical medicine and pharmacy. UW ranked No. 15 overall.  Since 2003, Shanghai Jiao Tong University has produced the Academic Ranking of World Universities, which analyzes the top universities in the world on quality of faculty (40%), research output (40%), quality of education (10%) and performance vs. size (10%). Its ranking is exclusively of research universities, mainly in the empirical sciences. For more on the story, see the Shanghai ranking website and article on UW Today.

More education stories:


UW medical residents driving force behind new student clinic in Alaska

Bethel Regional High School will be getting a student clinic in fall. Photo courtesy of Bethel Regional High School.

UW pediatric residents in Alaska came up with an idea for treating high school students more effectively. Open a student clinic. But their idea was stalled until space could be found. A student construction class built a portable to be put on market. The superintendent of the Lower Kuskokwim School District repurposed the building for the clinic and the building is being moved to Bethel Regional High School. The clinic will open this fall.

The clinic will provide healthcare like physicals, vaccines and care for simple ailments like headaches, stomachaches or sore throats. Through Bethel Public Health Nursing, there will be pregnancy and STD testing as well as access to contraceptives. It will be a supplemental healthcare location so students will be referred to their regular physician for more comprehensive care. The school district also plans to eventually provide behavioral healthcare.

 Matt Serna, a UW resident pediatrician with the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, said treating adolescents is a new field for pediatricians because they are, in some ways, both a child and an adult. “That combination means they need healthcare but don’t readily seek it out.” For more on the story, see article on KYUK AM/FM/TV.

New geriatrics center to help train primary care doctors in treating older adults

A Northwest Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Center is being established at UW to increase the expertise of primary-care providers, trainees and others in caring for older adults.
The ultimate goal is to improve healthcare for aging individuals and populations in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) region.
The UW Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine received a three-year, $2.5 million cooperative agreement award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration for the new center. For more on the center, see story in HSNewsBeat.

People Bar

MPH graduate appointed as Liberia’s Minister of Health

Bernice Dahn receives mosquito nets in Liberia. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Flickr.

Bernice Dahn, who came to UW in 2003 for a nine-month leadership training, stayed on to get her MPH. She served as Liberia’s chief medical officer during the Ebola outbreak. And on April 8, she was appointed minister of health in Liberia. She quarantined herself for a month during the Ebola outbreak and was staying in constant contact with her colleagues from the leadership program, said Stephen Gloyd, UW professor of global health and health services. Gloyd said her UW connections are her support group.

In May, Dahn co-wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times, “Ebola-Free, but Not Resilient,” that calls for building resilient health systems that can handle a crisis without collapsing. “One lesson from Ebola is clear: in a resilient health system, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Liberia not only reminds us of the necessity to create such a system, but also can help to show the path forward.” For more on the opinion piece, see editorial in The New York Times. 


Awards Bar

UW team physicians for Seahawks honored

Team physicians for the Seattle Seahawks Jonathan A. Drezner, UW professor of family medicine, and Ashwin L. Rao, associate professor of family and sports medicine, received the T. David Sisk Awards for research excellence: Best review paper Evaluation and management of Wolff-Parkinson-White in athletes. The T. David Sisk Research Awards were established in 2010 to honor the best papers submitted to Sports Health in clinical, laboratory and international research. The winners receive a $2,500 cash prize and a plaque.

Joel Mitchell receives 3 national awards

Dr. Joel Mitchell
Joel Mitchell

Joel C. Mitchell, UW assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and associate chief of staff at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, received three prestigious national awards recognizing his transformational leadership in healthcare and his national contributions to leadership development, healthcare administration and employee wellness. 1) Leadership Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which recognizes VA psychologists who are exceptional healthcare leaders, have demonstrated advocacy for the profession of psychology and are mentors and role models for psychologists across the VA. 2) Outstanding Administrator from the American Psychological Association, which recognizes the highest caliber of leadership ability with a significant impact at the local, regional and national levels. 3) Patriot Award from the U.S. Navy, which recognizes individuals for their exceptional dedication and support of U.S. Naval reservists and their families.

Microbiologist Robert Martin to be honored

Robert Martin, director of laboratory systems development for UW's International Training & Education Center for Health (I-TECH), is the recipient of the American Society for Microbiology’s 2016 Hologic Joseph Public Health Award. This award honors a distinguished microbiologist who has exhibited exemplary leadership and service in public health. Martin has played a leading role in initiatives to build laboratory capacity and capability in the many countries I-TECH partners with. The award takes its name from J. Mehsen Joseph, who directed the Maryland State Laboratory for decades and was instrumental in working with the CDC to expand the role of public health laboratories.Martin, will receive this well-deserved honor at the ASM Microbe 2016 meeting in Boston next summer.

Events Bar

Molecular Mechanisms in Huntington Disease, Aug. 31 

The Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education is sponsoring a lecture by Robert Hughes, associate professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Hughes received his Ph.D. in biology from Yale University and completed postdoctoral fellowships in the departments of biochemistry and genome sciences at UW, where he worked in the laboratory of Stanley Fields, a pioneer in yeast technology. The event is from 2-3 p.m., SLU Orin Smith Auditorium. Robert Hughes flyer

New Faculty Orientation: Welcome and Meet Paul Ramsey, Sept. 1 

Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine, and Christina Surawicz, associate dean for faculty development, invite faculty at all academic ranks who have joined UW Medicine in the last few years for a faculty orientation from 1-4 p.m., Health Sciences Building E-202 Turner Conference Room. The event is sponsored by the Office of Faculty Development. Register by noon Aug. 26.

Partnering with Patients in Research, Sept. 1 

The Department of Family Medicine is sponsoring a talk to provide an overview of the CERTAIN Patient Advisory Network and describe efforts to sustain patient engagement as well as examples of research initiatives where patients are active collaborators in the work conducted. The talk will be given by Danielle Lavallee, research assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, 12-1 p.m., Roosevelt 1, 4225 Roosevelt Way N.E. Suite 308 Conference Room 357.

Pink Boat Regatta, Sept. 13

The Fourth Annual Pink Boat Regatta is a sailing fundraiser for breast cancer awareness with funds going to the labs of UW Medicine researchers Julie Gralow, professor of medicine/oncology and Mary-Claire King, professor of medicine/medical genetics and genome sciences. For more information, go to

Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk, Oct. 17

UW Medicine team at heart walk in 2014.

UW 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. 

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

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


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