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Sept. 18 issue of UW Medicine Insight


Dr. John Meehan, pediatric surgeon and pioneer in robotic surgery, was treated like a rock star in Russia. See story on HSNewsBeat.
Firefighter recovering

and much more...

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



MEDEX graduate Terry Scott takes helm of program 

Dear Colleagues:

Paul Ramsey

I am very pleased that Terry Scott has been appointed to the combined role of program director and section head of the MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Program. He began in this role July 1.

Wylie Burke

MEDEX Northwest, the UW’s highly regarded program to train physician assistants (PAs), has sites in Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and Anchorage.  As program director, Terry is responsible for all aspects of the educational program, including leadership in scholarship, clinical activities, teaching and administration.

Terry, a graduate of the MEDEX program Class 25 (1993) is well-qualified for this important position. He joined the MEDEX faculty in 1996. From 2008-2011 he served as a city councilman and deputy mayor for the city of Shoreline.  He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the UW. He has worked as a PA in both rural and urban communities in Washington state and is in his 18th year of practice at the UW Family Practice Residency.

Terry Scott 
Wylie Burke

Prior to joining MEDEX, Terry provided primary care to HIV positive individuals at Harborview’s Madison Clinic and was involved in HIV vaccine research.

He has spent nearly 20 years recruiting, training and deploying a diverse, culturally competent physician assistant workforce to medically underserved areas. In addition, he has held leadership roles in major PA professional organizations where he was involved in policy, legislation and scholarship program development and implementation. 

The training and deployment of physician assistants are vital to addressing health workforce challenges. As it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2019, MEDEX will continue to train PAs to meet the primary and specialty care needs of the WWAMI region with a particular focus on underserved and vulnerable populations. Terry’s background and commitment make him an outstanding leader to work toward meeting these health workforce goals.  

Please join me in congratulating Terry and thanking him for his important work! 


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

Lung screening may not push smokers to quit

Steven Zeliadt, UW research assistant professor in health services and a health economist at the V.A. Puget Sound Health Care System, and seven colleagues, including David Au, UW professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine, conducted a study of 37 current smokers who were offered lung cancer screening at Department of Veteran Affairs centers around the country.

After being screened with a low-dose CT chest scan and told the results, the participants were interviewed in-depth about their smoking-related health beliefs. For about half of those in whom cancer was not found, “screening lowered their motivation for cessation,” the team reported in July in JAMA Internal Medicine. For more on the story, see article in The New York Times and coverage on KUOW.

The study heard around the world

Global life expectancy increases by more than six years. (Photo in Malawi courtesy of DFID creative).
Kristie Ebi

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at UW published its first annual update to its mammoth Global Burden of Disease study in The Lancet, Sept. 10 and press around the world covered the news. Here’s a sample of some headlines: Diario de Cuyo in Argentina published Living longer but with less health. (Translation). Quartz Africa wrote Ethiopians have increased their life expectancy by 16 years while South Africans have shortened theirs. The Kenyan Star wrote You can now expect to live for 67 years, Kenyans told. Voice of America Russian Service wrote Life expectancy in Russia, between North Korea and Iraq. (Translation).  BBC Russian Service published Russia is in 108th place out of 188 countries in life expectancy. (Translation). Zee News wrote Life expectancy up in India, women live over four years longer than men: Study. Nueva Tribuna wrote Spain’s ranking falls amongst countries with highest life expectancy. SBS in Australia published We are living longer but are less healthy. Radio Cuba published Global life expectancy increases but with poorer health. Reevolucion in Mexico wrote Diseases that affect the lives of Mexicans. The Asian Age wrote Global life expectancy has risen by more than 6 years. CBS News wrote Global life expectancy climbs, but so do years of illness and NBC News wrote What's killing us? It's mostly our own bad habits.

UW genome study finds answers on why cells resist chemotherapy

Chemotherapy resistance is a common reason for cancer treatment failure. Subtle alterations in the molecular machinery of cancer cells may help explain how they fend off the drugs administered to destroy them. UW researchers were able to find such changes with a technique that detect how proteins interact with each other inside cells.

To understand how cells function you need to know how proteins work together, said James E. Bruce, UW professor of genome sciences, who led the project. The study appears in the journal Nature Communications. Juan D. Chavez, UW research scientist in genome sciences, was the lead author. For more on the story, see article on HSNewsBeat.

Other research news:

Clinical Bar

UW Medicine testing new device to improve donor hearts

A donor heart intended for transplant is circulated with blood instead of sitting inert in an icy slush. (Image using a pig heart is courtesy of TransMedics).
Wylie Burke

UW Medicine’s Regional Heart Center is one of seven medical programs in the United States testing a device that may improve the availability of donor hearts for transplantation. The potential game-changer is an ex vivo (out of body) heart-perfusion system called “heart in a box.” Its manufacturer is TransMedics of Andover, Mass. 

“The technological advance of this device is that it circulates blood into the aorta and the coronary arteries, and the heart will be beating again all the way to its new home,” said Jason Smith, a cardiothoracic surgeon and transplant specialist at UW Medical Center. By contrast, the current standard of care encompasses transporting a donor heart in an icy saline slush in a cooler. For more on the story, see article in The Seattle Times, coverage on KING-TV NBC 5, and article on HSNewsBeat.

Ovarian cancer in the spotlight

September is national Gynecologic and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 21,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and although it’s rare, it’s also the deadliest of all female reproductive cancers.

Ovarian cancer is now dubbed the “disease that whispers;” although the symptoms are vague and can mimic symptoms of other conditions or diseases, most women will report that they noticed them.  Barbara Goff,  UW professor of obstetrics and gynecology, weighs in on risk factors and research aimed at early detection of ovarian cancer in the article, "13 ovarian cancer warning signs you should never ignore. For more on the story, see article on Fox News,

Meanwhile, in April, four groups -- Stand Up To Cancer, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition -- announced a "dream team" dedicated to ovarian cancer research. Elizabeth Swisher, UW professor of obstetrics and gynecology and medical director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, is part of the dream team. “I don’t want to say goodbye to one more patient,” she said in a three-minute video on the goals of the collaboration. For the video, click here. And to see what ovarian cancer looks like, view a clip from the Dr. Oz  show comparing a normal ovary to one with cancer.

Other clinical stories:

  • Chronic kidney disease can be dubious diagnosis, New York Times, Sept. 14, 2015 
    Half of the population older than 70 has chronic kidney disease according to international guidelines; however, a cadre of people are arguing the guidelines should be recalibrated for age. Ann O'Hare, a nephrologist at UW Medicine, is quoted.

  • New treatments for deadly idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Wall Street Journal (public access), Sept. 14, 2015 
    With improved understanding and better diagnostic guidelines for a rare lung disease, researchers say the number of people afflicted is substantially higher than previously thought. Ganesh Raghu of UW Medicine is lead author of the guidelines.

  • Treating cancer differently in older patients, U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 10, 2015
    Doctors, patients and their families must account for age in a patient's treatment decisions. Edward Libby, UW professor of medicine and medical oncology, is quoted. 

  • Shelton mom donating her liver to neighbor: 'I love her for it,' KOMO-TV ABC 4 and Radio 1000, Sept. 10, 2015
    Two neighbors will take part in what UW Medical Center says is the first adult-to-adult living donor liver transplant in the Pacific Northwest. 

Education Bar

Lynne Robins, Ph.D.
Wylie Burke

“I see CLIME as UW School of Medicine's answer to creating a community of faculty educator-scholars to promote best practices in teaching and promote scholarship in teaching.” Lynne Robins, director of CLIME

Lynne Robins' mission to support UW School of Medicine faculty through CLIME -- Center for Leadership and Innovation in Medical Innovation

By Bobbi Nodell
UW Medicine News

Lynne Robins wants to get the word out about innovation at the UW School of Medicine. Her way is to foster an engaged community of educators who feel empowered to disseminate their innovations through scholarly writing and presentations at national conferences.

Robins, UW professor in Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, is the new director of the Center for Leadership and Innovation in Medical Education or CLIME a center established in 2012 “to advance and support medical education throughout the WWAMI region.” Robins wants all 1,600 full-time faculty at the UW School of Medicine and the 4,000 clinical faculty throughout WWAMI to feel they are in a supportive environment and valued as teachers. “The UW has so much going on in WWAMI, especially with curriculum renewal,  we need to create scholarship around it and get the word out,” she said.

CLIME holds many workshops for faculty. (Photo by Sara Kim).
Students Stethoscope

Robins replaces Sara Kim, UW research professor in the Department of Surgery, who assumed a new role as associate dean for educational quality improvement. (See July 24 issue of Insight). She will be working alongside Jon Ilgen, CLIME’s associate director and UW assistant professor of medicine (emergency medicine), and Michael J. Ryan, CLIME’s executive administrative officer and associate dean for curriculum, as well as CLIME’s core leaders, members and staff to move the organization’s agenda forward.

Robins came to UW in 1999 and worked with Charles Dohner, one of the founders of the Teaching Scholars program, a program he started in 1995 with David Irby that offers training for educators in scholarship and teaching through a 10-month fellowship.

But not all faculty have the opportunity to go through this training and those who graduate want a support network. That’s one of the many places where CLIME steps in. Robins said CLIME has supported several “learning communities” of local and WWAMI faculty, who meet weekly to discuss topics such as teaching with technology and how to teach under curriculum renewal. CLIME has also partnered with the Association of American Medical Colleges to offer a year-long Medical Education Research Certificate program. CLIME awards small grants to faculty doing education research projects. And, Robins said, CLIME offers a number of opportunities for faculty to teach and learn from one another in informal “work-in-progress” sessions and during special events with invited experts in medical education.


WWAMI sites celebrate graduation from immersive skills training

By Barbara Clements
UW Medicine News

Families inside Hogness Auditorium in Seattle were taking last-minute selfies with their sons or daughters. Young children were settled next to grandma to make sure they would be entertained for the next hour.

Cellphone moment at the White Coat ceremony in Seattle. (Photo by Clare McLean/UW Medicine).
Frank Batcha

But when the time finally came on September 4 for UW School of Medicine first-year students to don their white coats, no one bothered to stay in their seats. Almost on cue, they  rose, cell phone in hand, to get that key shot as their loved one came across the stage to be handed a white coat  -- a symbol of their graduation from a two-week immersion into medical school and their dedication to patients.  Welcome to the new 2015 WWAMI curriculum where medical school has been flipped. Under this new curriculum, first-year students start with immersion to learn the clinical skills that will sustain them as physicians throughout their careers -- including in the outpatient clinical settings in which they will spend one day a week, and the inpatient training they will receive from college mentors throughout their 18-month Foundations phase.

This ceremony was also held in Spokane and across the other four states which comprise WWAMI Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Of the 246 incoming medical students this year, Seattle has 100, Spokane 40,  Idaho 35, Montana 30, Wyoming 20 and Alaska 21.

White Coat ceremony in Spokane. (Photo by Christopher Anderson).
Frank Batcha

At the Seattle ceremony, Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the UW School of Medicine, congratulated the students and the 500 assembled family and friends. With the recently implemented changes, Ramsey noted that the students are entering one of the best medical schools in the country and “will be engaging in one of the best curriculums in the country.”

Ramsey encouraged the new students to get enough sleep, study hard and to spend time with their families and supporters to recharge. And then once recharged, get back to work, he laughed. “You are going to be changing the world of medicine.” For a slideshow of 2015 students and more on the WWAMI 2015 curriculum, see the story on HSNewsBeat.



Awards Bar

UW Medical Center, Institute for Simulation cited for excellence

  • The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) has once again given the UW Medical Center  “Meritorious Status” a qualification given to the top performing hospitals in surgery (in this case general and vascular) in the United States. The status was based on a composite score in the outcome areas of mortality, cardiac, respiratory (pneumonia), unplanned intubation, ventilator more than 48 hours, renal failure, surgical site infection and urinary tract infection from Jan. 1, 2014-Dec. 31, 2014.  
  • The American College of Surgeons Division of Education has reaccredited the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies for three years. In the seven-page performance report, the UW institute was cited for “best practice for providing education to the total scope of learners, including community outreach” and for “best practice for curricular development.” (The institute has published 22 original curricula).

Events Bar

  • Elder Friendly Futures: Care and collaboration with older adults, Lynnwood Convention Center, Sept. 17-18
    This annual two-day gerontology conference is for clinical care providers, community partners and researchers with a commitment to healthy aging. The conference is sponsored by the UW School of Nursing de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging and the UW School of Social Work. For more information, see conference website.

  • “Think like an auditor: Constructive responses to real study problems,” Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Sept. 24 (2:30-4 p.m.)
    Mandy Morneault, Institute of Translational Health Sciences' (ITHS) manager of regulatory knowledge and training, will lead this program aimed for research coordinators and describe the goals and common triggers of creating quality systems to assure data integrity and regulatory compliance. This is part of ITHS' Clinical Research Education Series. For more information, see the ITHS website. 

  • 4th International Conference on Immunotherapy in Pediatric Oncology (CIPO2015),  The Westin Hotel,  Sept. 25-26
    The conference, hosted by Seattle Children’s Research Institute, is designed to bring together worldwide leaders to discuss the latest immunotherapy research in the field of pediatric oncology. For more information, see conference website.

  • UW Medicine EMS & Trauma Conference, Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center, Sept. 28-29 
    The two-day multidisciplinary conference highlights issues in trauma care. The conference is sponsored annually by Airlift Northwest and Harborview Medical Center. For more information, see conference website.

  • Biochemistry’s 29th Annual Hans Neurath Lecture, T-625 Health Sciences Building, Oct. 8 (4:30 p.m.) 
    Speaker Susan Lindquist, Ph.D. 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.

  • 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

    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. 

  • 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 available on YouTube. 

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