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December 2, 2011

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

Nursing excellence is in evidence throughout UW Medicine

Dear Colleagues:

Nurses have a powerful impact on healthcare in many key areas—patient safety, quality assurance, and effective communication with patients, families and other healthcare professionals, to name a few. Excellent nurses are absolutely vital as key members of the healthcare professional team in all settings.

It is therefore a pleasure to tell you that UW Medical Center once again has achieved Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center for excellence in nursing practice and patient care. This award is the highest level for hospital nursing awards by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Remarkably, this is the fifth consecutive time UW Medical Center has been awarded Magnet designation. It is the only hospital in the United States to receive this repeated level of recognition.

The Magnet program began 17 years ago to honor institutions that provide top quality nursing care. UW Medical Center was the first hospital in the nation to achieve Magnet status in 1994.

Through the Magnet designation, the American Nurses Credentialing Center commends UW Medical Center as an institution that supports the highest quality of professional nursing practice, exemplifies excellence in leadership and management philosophy, as well as the practices of nursing services. The designation also recognizes UW Medical Center’s innovative nursing strategies to improve the quality of patient and family care.

UW Medical Center nurses are not alone in receiving national recognition. Harborview Medical Center’s intensive care nurses have distinguished themselves nationally over multiple years through receipt of the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. All five Critical Care Units, which include a total of 89 critical care beds, have achieved the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence, as did UW Medical Center’s Cardiothoracic Unit and 5East.

I would like to thank all of the nurses throughout UW Medicine: at UW Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, the UW Neighborhood Clinics, and Airlift Northwest. Your outstanding clinical skills and commitment to our patients are essential for UW Medicine to succeed with 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




Gregory Morton receives Novo Nordisk Diabetes Innovation Award

Gregory MortonGregory J. Morton, research associate professor of medicine in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition, has received a Novo Nordisk Diabetes Innovation Award for his proposal “Leptin, Glucagon and Diabetes.” His is one of the first such awards in the pharmaceutical firm’s new program, dedicated to supporting exploration of novel hypotheses in nonclinical diabetes and obesity research to further the development of therapies. Morton will receive $500,000 over two years.

Morton studies the role of the brain in the regulation of energy balance and glucose metabolism. Specifically, he researches the action of the adiposity signals, insulin and leptin in the hypothalamus and examines the mechanisms and pathways by which they mediate their effects on food intake, body weight and peripheral insulin sensitivity. His work uses physiological, molecular biological, pharmacological and histochemical approaches.

“Recent evidence suggests that induction of hyperleptinemia fully ameliorates hyperglycemia in a rodent model of type 1 diabetes, and our recent findings implicate the brain in this effect,” Morton said.

Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes treatment innovation, supports new and established scientists in their exploration of novel hypotheses in the area of diabetes and obesity research. The aim of this new research award program is to help scientists substantiate early innovative research efforts and clarify if their hypotheses could result in new treatment options for diabetes and obesity.

Read more about the Novo Nordisk Awards.  

UW researchers evaluate benefits of drug overdose law

Drug users and bystanders who witness a drug overdose are often reluctant to call 911 out of fear that they might be arrested for drug possession. Initial results from an evaluation of new legislation in Washington state show that 88 percent of opiate users are now likely to call 911 to get emergency help for drug overdose victims because they know that they are protected by the state’s Good Samaritan laws.

UW researchers are evaluating Washington’s Good Samaritan overdose law. These are the first evaluation data in the United States to address the legal intent and implementation of a law designed to encourage bystanders to call 911 during a drug overdose.

Caleb Banta-Green, research scientist and epidemiologist with the UW Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, is the lead researcher on the project. Other UW researchers include Patricia Kuszler, the Charles I. Stone Professor of Law, and Phillip Coffin, a senior fellow in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Drug-induced deaths in the U.S. totaled 37,485 in 2009. This figure surpasses motor vehicle fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Washington state the number of unintentional drug overdoses increased from 281 in 1995 to 756 in 2010. Prescription opiates or heroin were present in 74 percent of these deaths in 2010.

The team is conducting an ongoing study of how Washington state’s law is affecting heroin overdoses in Seattle. The study examines the legal intent, implementation and outcomes of the law. It is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research Program (PHLR). PHLR’s goal is to build the evidence for and increase the use of effective regulatory, legal and policy solutions, including statutes, regulations, case law or other policies, to protect and improve public health.

When the study is complete, researchers will report on how the law is impacting overdoses and 911 calls. In the meantime, they are releasing initial results about how the law was developed and implemented and how it impacts stakeholders’ behaviors.

Initial results of the study are available online.


Clinical Care

Valley Medical Center earns national award for outstanding achievement in budgeting

Valley Medical Center (VMC) has received the 2011 Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The award, the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting, reflects the commitment of the administration and finance staff to meet the highest principles of governmental budgeting. VMC received the award for its 2011 fiscal period budget.

To receive the award, VMC had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. The guidelines assess how well VMC’s budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications tool. VMC earned the award by rating proficient in all four categories as well as the fourteen criteria within those categories.

According to the GFOA, recipients of the award have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.

In addition to this award, VMC was also recognized by the Washington State Auditor’s Office for 10 consecutive years with no audit findings. A letter from the auditor’s office praised Valley as “a model for other entities in our state.”

In a letter to the medical center’s Board of Commissioners, Sontag said: “This accomplishment reflects the dedication of the District’s Commissioners, management and staff to provide strong operational oversight, good internal controls and accurate financial reporting,”

A prescription for managing seasonal depression 

The following is an excerpt from an article by Pamela Sheffield, UW clinical assistant professor, family medicine physician and clinic chief of UW Neighborhood Clinic – Ravenna. The article was published October 31 by the Journal Media Group.

Every fall, as the days grow shorter and the sky darkens, I see patients whose mood begins to match the gloomy external world. They are tired, sleep long hours and have trouble getting out of bed or leaving the house. Their arms and legs feel like lead, and their strongest desires are cravings for sweet and starchy foods.

These complaints often mark the onset of winter seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Although diagnosis requires a pattern of episodes over several years, with symptoms appearing in fall and subsiding in spring, this type of depression is thought to be caused by the effect of reduced natural daylight on brain chemicals that regulate our sleep patterns and mood. In the Pacific Northwest, as many as one in five people experience winter SAD with mild symptoms, and 5 to 10 percent of the population have more severe symptoms.

To compensate for the reduction in natural light, the first line of treatment for most people is light therapy. They sit in front of a light box that delivers high intensity white fluorescent light (10,000 lux) for approximately 30 minutes a day. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50 to 80 percent of light box users experience an essentially complete remission of symptoms when they continue treatment daily into spring.

Read the entire article.


Education and Training

Bioengineering student Cameron Turtle named a 2012 Rhodes Scholar 

Cameron TurtleCameron Turtle, a UW bioengineering senior, has been named a Rhodes Scholar, along with political science major Byron Gray. They are among 32 Rhodes Scholars named for 2012. The UW is the only public university in the nation with more than one new scholar.

Turtle, a Mary Gates scholar and a Goldwater scholar, is an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Michael Regnier, UW professor of bioengineering. Turtle is studying cardiovascular biology and has done extensive work in cardiac therapeutics. He co-founded Bioengineers without Borders at the UW to provide service opportunities in global health. Turtle also founded and now serves as chief executive officer of Point of Care Technologies, a company that develops molecular medical diagnostic devices that interface with Android-based mobile equipment. Turtle plans to study cardiovascular medicine. He is from Pullman, Wash.

Gray plans to study contemporary India and socio-legal systems. He is from Post Falls, Idaho.

Both Turtle and Gray have participated in the UW’s College Honors program, in which students can take selected core honors classes or conduct advanced work in their majors. They will begin their studies at Oxford in October 2012.

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest international fellowship awards in the world, according to the website for Rhodes Trust, a British charity established in honor of Cecil Rhodes that provides full financial support for scholars to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Read more in UW Today.

UW medicine mourns the death of pharmacology student Laura Sheard

Laura SheardLaura Sheard, 26, a fifth-year graduate student in pharmacology at the UW, died Nov. 13 in an automobile accident in Seattle.

Ning Zheng, UW associate professor of pharmacology and Sheard’s faculty advisor, said Sheard, originally from Pennsylvania, was an extremely talented student who showed great promise. Zheng said she was lead author for a research paper on plant hormones in the scientific journal Nature. In August, Sheard received a fellowship from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to fund her postgraduate work.

"She was hoping to put her research to ways to help feed the world," said Diane Schulstad, human resources manager for the Department of Pharmacology, in a Seattle Times article. Sheard stood out for her vibrant personality, Shulstad said. She loved dancing and made cupcakes with beautiful designs on them.

Sheard’s boyfriend, Kristopher Martin, 33, originally from Wisconsin, also died in the crash. Graduate students of the department created a memorial space for Laura Sheard and Kris Martin in the Health Sciences Library, where students collected a box of messages for Sheard’s and Martin’s families. Zheng presented the box of messages to Sheard’s family when he attended the memorial service for Sheard in Jim Thorpe, Penn., Nov. 26.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Jim Thorpe Area School District for the Laura Sheard Memorial Scholarship Fund, 410 Center Ave., Jim Thorpe, PA, 18229. The fund will be used to create an annual scholarship award for a graduating senior who is interested in pursuing a degree in science.

WWAMI Regional News

Frank Newman, Montana WWAMI founder and director, dies

Frank NewmanFranklin Scott Newman, a founder and former director of the Montana WWAMI program, died Friday, Nov. 11, at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital of acute respiratory failure.

Newman, 80, joined the faculty at Montana State University (MSU) in 1961. During his tenure at MSU he held a variety of academic positions. In addition to heading the Montana WWAMI program, he directed other health professional programs including the Montana Family Practice Residency Program, the Montana Area Health Education Center and the Montana Office of Rural Health. At the time of his death, Newman was actively involved in teaching and advising pre-professional healthcare students as well as writing grant proposals for rural health programs in the state of Montana.

"Frank was the heart and soul of the WWAMI program in Montana," said Jay Erickson, assistant dean and clinical professor, Montana WWAMI. He had been involved in the program at so many levels—founder, director, professor, mentor. We are all certainly thankful for his many contributions to the WWAMI program over the years. His passion for teaching and rural healthcare will not be easily replaced."

Newman was born July 31, 1931. He grew up in Kansas and graduated from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., with a bachelor's degree in biology. He then attended Kansas State University where he earned a master’s degree and doctoral degree in virology.

Outside of academia, Newman was a founding member of the Big Sky Wind Drinkers, an institution among Bozeman runners for nearly 40 years. He was the race director of the annual Frank Newman Marathon Relay held each May.

Newman, a highly respected and much loved advocate for rural health, was honored in Bozeman on Oct. 7 during a dinner that celebrated the 40th anniversary of the WWAMI program. Newman was given a UW School of Medicine lifetime achievement award in the form of a UW School of Medicine chair for his considerable work on behalf of the WWAMI program. The Montana Area Health Education Center/Office of Rural Health and Montana WWAMI Medical Education Program also presented Newman with an achievement award for his dedication to the state of Montana and his many contributions to rural health and medical education. (Read the story in the Oct. 28 issue of Online News.)

Newman is survived by his wife, Marilyn; sons, Scott of Bozeman, and Eric (Lori) of Bozeman; daughters, Gayle (Rande) Roth of Billings, and Lynn (Timothy) Sweeney of Omaha, Neb.; as well as 13 grandchildren.

A memorial service was held Friday, Nov. 18, in Bozeman. Memorial contributions may be sent to the WWAMI Memorial Scholarship Fund, MSU Foundation, 308 Leon Johnson Hall, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.

Idaho WWAMI reaches out to state's colleges and universities

Idaho Track StudentsHow to have a fulfilling life while being a busy practicing physician is just one of the topics that Mary Barinaga, assistant dean for regional affairs, Idaho WWAMI, explores with Idaho college students who are contemplating careers in the health professions.

Barinaga has found that Idaho students who ultimately apply to the University of Washington WWAMI program are usually active members of their university or college pre-health professions clubs and appreciate the personal attention and opportunity to speak to a dean and to medical students about the path to becoming a physician.

This autumn, Barinaga traveled to Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg and Idaho State University in Pocatello, where she spent the day handing out information and discussing the WWAMI program with college-age students. In the evening, Barinaga met with the pre-health professions clubs and pre-med advisors. She spoke about becoming a competitive medical school applicant and what it takes to “survive” medical school and residency.

WWAMI students in the Idaho Track visited Boise State University and answered questions about preparing for medical school, the application process, and the life of a medical student. Other schools visited included the College of Idaho in Caldwell and Northwest Nazarene University and Boise State University.

Next spring, Barinaga will travel to North Idaho Community College in Coeur d’Alene to speak to its pre-health class. By spring she will have handed out hundreds of her business cards and responded to numerous emails and phone calls from future Idaho health professionals.

(Photo: Idaho WWAMI students Blake Sampson (left) and Spencer Miller talk to prospective medical students.) 


Upcoming Events

The following is a listing of events that may be of interest to the UW Medicine community.

A Short Course on DNA Analysis Technologies, Dec. 6

Technologies for high throughput genotyping by Roger Bumgarner, UW associate professor of microbiology, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 6. View the course details online. For more information, contact Lalitha Subramanian at ithsedu@u.washington.edu  

Science in Medicine Lecture, Dec. 7

Biobehavioral Perspectives On The Effects Of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure On Children’s Development by Tracy Jirikowic, UW assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine, noon, Foege Auditorium, Foege Building, Seattle campus. The lecture will be simulcast at several locations. Visit the Science in Medicine website for more details.

Party beCause: Benefit for Country Doctor Youth Clinic, Jan. 20

The UW School of Medicine Medical Student Association (MSA) will host a benefit auction for the Country Doctor Youth Clinic, 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 20, at UW Medicine South Lake Union. The auction will benefit the Country Doctor Free Teen Youth Clinic run by the UW Department of Adolescent Medicine. The clinic provides medical and social services to homeless youth in Seattle. Auction items include a winemaker’s dinner for up to six people, dinner at Canlis Restaurant, horseback ride in Yellowstone National Park, and more. The evening also will include music and refreshments. For more information about this event, visit the Party beCause website. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets

Paul Ramsey’s annual address, Feb. 9

Paul G. Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, University of Washington, will give his annual address to the UW Medicine community at 4:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, in Hogness Auditorium at the UW Health Sciences Building. The talk is open to all faculty, staff, students, trainees, and others. A reception will follow the address. For more information, contact Julie Monteith at 206.543.7718 or jspiro@uw.edu.

UW Medicine Salutes Harborview, Feb. 25

The 20th Annual Salute Harborview Gala, the premier fundraising event for Harborview Medical Center, will be held at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. The Gala’s net proceeds benefit Harborview’s Mission of Caring Fund, which helps Harborview serve vulnerable populations and provide world-class care to patients from throughout the region. The event is presented by the Western Washington Toyota Dealers Association. Register to attend the 20th UW Medicine Salutes Harborview Gala. Follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.

2011 Online News Readership Survey ends today

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In the News

JAMA: Optimizing Patient Safety During Hemodialysis

Jonathan Himmelfarb, UW professor of medicine and director of the Kidney Research Institute, authored an editorial, "Optimizing Patient Safety During Hemodialysis," in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

UW Medicine magazine 

The 2011 fall edition of UW Medicine magazine is now available online. This magazine for alumni and friends of UW School of Medicine includes articles on Team Science, Translated, Burn Care in Bhutan, the 40th anniversary of WWAMI, and more.

Media coverage of UW Medicine    

Online News Archives  

UW Medicine website