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May 13, 2011

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

Advancing diversity is key topic at annual UW Medicine senior leadership retreat

Dear Colleagues: 

Each year, I convene a retreat in early May to discuss key issues and directions for UW Medicine. Approximately 100 individuals attend, including department chairs and senior leaders from our teaching, research and patient care settings. The most recent retreat, held late last week, focused broadly on a call for continuous self-assessment and improvement in the face of the constant change that characterizes 21st century medicine. To achieve our mission of improving health for all people, we must anticipate change and be poised to adapt and advance our teaching, research and patient care environments accordingly. 

At the retreat, sessions were held on progress and future advances in the basic sciences (session led by Bill Catterall and Bob Waterston), initiation of a continuous review process for the medical school curriculum (led by Suzanne Allen and Michael Ryan), advancing mentoring in our various settings (led by Bruder Stapleton and Chris Surawicz), working together to advance patient safety and quality in our clinical settings (led by Rick Goss and Byron Joyner), and several sessions on advancing diversity and a review of the new draft diversity strategic plan (led by Carlos Pellegrini and the Diversity Strategic Planning Committee). Two outstanding plenary speakers — Mark Nivet, chief diversity  officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, and Daryl G. Smith, professor of education and psychology at Claremont Graduate School and author of Diversity’s Promise for Higher Education: Making It Work — addressed diversity. 

We are at a key juncture in our efforts to advance diversity throughout UW Medicine. The new Diversity Strategic Plan, currently in draft form and discussed and vetted at the retreat, will provide crucial directions. In her address, Dr. Smith emphasized the need to move from a “programmatic” compartmentalization of diversity to an inclusive approach in which diversity is part of everything we do.

Leslie WalkerI recently had the pleasure of reading an article that is very relevant to our diversity discussions and progress. Leslie Walker (photo, left) is professor and chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics, based at Seattle Children’s, and a member of the Diversity Strategic Planning Committee.  As the 41st president of the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine, she was asked to give the Presidential address for the society; the address was published in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. In her address, Dr. Walker offers a definition of health equity as “the absence of systematic disparities in health and in the major social determinants of health between social groups who have different levels of underlying social advantage or disadvantage.”  I encourage you to read this outstanding address that speaks to the need to achieve health equity by ending health disparities, with diversity as a driver.  

I am committed to making diversity a seamless part of the UW Medicine culture.  It is an essential and vital component of our mission of improving health for all people. Once the new Diversity Strategic Plan is finalized, we can begin to move ahead more rapidly, working to make diversity an area of continuous attention. 

I look forward to the involvement of all members of our UW Medicine community in conversations, leadership training, strategic discussions, and plans that will emerge in upcoming years related to continuous improvement in diversity, mentoring, and other areas. Advancing a culture of diversity, inclusivity and mutual support is vital to our mission of improving the health of 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




   John Sidles receives 2011 Guenther Laukien Prize 

John Sidles

John Sidles, UW professor of orthopaedics and sports medicine and co-director of the UW Quantum System Engineering Lab, has received the 2011 Guenther Laukien Prize for his pioneering work on magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM). He shares the prize with Daniel Rugar and H. Jonathan Mamin, both of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., for their conception, implementation and application of MRFM.

The Laukien Prize was presented in April at the 52nd annual Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference in Pacific Grove, Calif.  The conference program noted Sidles’ pioneering spirit and in-depth understanding of the physics underlying the research, and credited him with having a clear goal in mind: to detect single magnetic spins.

Sidles, Rugar and Mamin began collaborating in 1991 to create MRFM, a magnetic resonance imaging technique that relies on detecting very small magnetic forces to create three-dimensional nanoscale pictures of biological structures.

In 2004, Sidles’ colleagues successfully detected a single electron spin in silicon dioxide by electron paramagnetic resonance force microscopy. In 2009, they reported capturing a detailed image of an individual tobacco mosaic virus at a resolution down to four nanometers by MRFM. This result represents a 100 million-fold improvement in volume resolution over conventional MRI. In addition to its high resolution, MRFM also has advantages over electron microscopy: it can "see" deeper into layers below surfaces, and it does not destroy delicate biological materials. Sidles and his collaborators hope the technique will lead to new insights in biological structure by providing the ability to study complex biological structures such as viruses, bacteria and proteins.

The Laukien Prize carries a monetary award of $20,000 funded by Bruker BioSpin.

   Conrad Liles named associate chair for research in Department of Medicine

Conrad LilesW. Conrad Liles, professor and vice-chair of research in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, has been named associate chair for research in the UW Department of Medicine, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Liles, a former UW School of Medicine faculty member, will succeed Henry Rosen, who has held the associate chair for research position since 1999. Rosen will continue as a professor in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Liles directs the Divisions of Infectious Diseases at the University of Toronto and at the University Health Network. He also holds the Canada Research Chair in Inflammation and Infectious Diseases (Tier 1), an honor conferred on outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields.  Liles is a member of the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine, and the Toronto General Research Institute. He conducts an active translational research program in sepsis, host defense, inflammation, innate immunity, immunodeficiency disorders and immunomodulatory therapy.

Through the UW medical Scientist Training Program, Liles earned a medical degree from the UW School of Medicine and a doctoral degree in pharmacology. Following residency in internal medicine at Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital, Liles returned to UW and served as chief medical resident and as a fellow in infectious diseases.  In 1996, he joined the UW faculty as assistant professor in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and in 2006 rose to the rank of professor of medicine and adjunct professor of pathology.  Liles served as director of the Medical Student Research Training Program, co-director of the Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Clinic at UW Medical Center, and vice-chairman of the UWMC Infection Control Committee, as well as numerous other leadership roles.  In March 2006, Liles took his current position at the University of Toronto. 

   2011 Employee Giving campaign supports research, patient care, and education

Through their work and dedication, faculty and staff are the heart UW Medicine — and, very frequently, they contribute in another way: through philanthropy. On May 2, UW Medicine launched the 2011 Employee Giving program, which provides an opportunity for all employees to make a gift to their department, their hospital or clinic, or the service or program that matters most to them.

One example is Jens Chapman, interim chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, one of the giving program’s co-chairs, and a donor to orthopaedics.

“Much of our work in education and research has been underfunded and has been affected by cutbacks,” says Chapman. “Supporting UW Medicine is a powerful statement about the importance of investing in our future: quality education of care providers and meaningful clinical research.”

While donations to UW Medicine are accepted year-round, the months of May and June are specifically designated for employee giving, especially payroll deduction pledges. Visit www.supportuwmedicine.org/employee to learn more about the program.


Clinical Care

   CHARMS team to receive UW Distinguished Staff Award 

UW Medicine CHARMS (Clinical and Hospital Access Revenue Management System) team members will receive the 2011 Team UW Distinguished Staff Award, part of the annual University-wide awards program.

CHARMS team members Lori Mitchell, UW Medicine financial operations officer and former chief financial officer at Harborview Medical Center; Paul Ishizuka, UW Medicine financial planning officer and former chief financial officer at UW Medical Center; Tammy Ayyoub, director of financial planning and operations at Harborview Medical Center; and Charles Brown, associate administrator at UW Medicine Revenue Cycle, are being recognized as staff who “contribute to the mission of their unit or the University, respond creatively to challenges, maintain the highest standards in their work, establish productive working relationships and promote a respectful and supportive workplace."

The team will be honored during the special UW Awards of Excellence event at 3:30 p.m., June 9, in Meany Hall. Read More…

   Harborview receives Award of Excellence for "Code Sepsis" project

David CarlbomHarborview Medical Center’s success in identifying and treating sepsis early in patients has earned it the Award of Excellence in Healthcare Quality: Leadership in Improving Healthcare from Qualis Health. The award recognizes a Washington state organization for outstanding and innovative work to improve healthcare quality during 2010. The project, “Code Sepsis,” is co-led by Nicole Kupchik, critical care clinical nurse specialist at Harborview, and David Carlbom (photo, right), assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and associate director of Emergency Services at Harborview.

Three additional co-leaders are Diane Switzer, acute care nurse practitioner, Emergency Services; Valerie Calogero, registered nurse, Emergency Department; and Richard Utarnachitt, UW medical student clerkship co-director, Division of Emergency Medicine.

“Code Sepsis” began in June 2009 in the Harborview Emergency Department. The program strives to identify the signs of sepsis early on in patients and treat the infection aggressively. The team also implemented standardized care for sepsis patients in the ICU.

“We’ve decreased mortality and decreased length of stay, and in turn, that’s leading to cost avoidance,” Kupchik said. “Our outcomes are some of the best in the country. We’re really leading the way, and we want to be the best.” Success has depended on the involvement of the entire staff of the Emergency Department, the medical-cardiac ICU and MICU teams, stat nurses, pharmacists and the infectious disease team, Kupchik said. Abdelhak Abdou, a clinical data analyst, has also provided support to the program.

In the next phase of the project, the team is piloting an automated sepsis screening program that uses the electronic records of patients who are already in the hospital for another reason. Along with an additional screening form entered by a nurse, the system alerts a physician and a stat nurse to further evaluate the patient for sepsis.

Award winners will be recognized in a ceremony at the Washington Patient Safety Coalition's Northwest Patient Safety Conference  May 19 at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center. During the conference, the team is invited to make a 15-minute presentation about the project, and a poster about their work will be showcased.

   UW Medicine names Liz Shirley new controller

Liz Shirley has been appointed UW Medicine controller and associate vice president for medical affairs at UW, effective May 1. Shirley comes to the UW from Swedish Health Services, where she was corporate controller. At Swedish she was involved in all aspects of financial reporting and analysis, including integration of financial information from various business entities throughout the organization. Shirley previously spent 11 years at Virginia Mason Medical Center working in clinical operations.



Education and Training

   Lawrence Altman and Marshall Horwitz to receive UW Medicine Alumni Awards 

New York Times medical journalist Lawrence K. Altman and UW Professor of Pathology Marshall S. Horwitz, both former residents in the School of Medicine and fellows in medical genetics, will be honored in June by the UW Medicine Alumni Association.

Lawrence AltmanLarry Altman, a 40-year member of The New York Times science news staff and one of the most prominent medical journalists in the nation, will receive the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Altman is a graduate of Harvard and Tufts University School of Medicine, where he also began his journalism career. Following an internship in San Francisco and service in the U.S. Public Health Service, he came to the UW for a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical genetics.

Altman joined The New York Times in 1969. He is a master of the American College of Physicians, a fellow of the American College of Epidemiology and the New York Academy of Medicine, and a member of the Institute of Medicine. Altman has explained medical issues and advances to a lay audience in thousands of articles and columns. He has won numerous awards for his work. He has also told the stories of many UW medical scientists in Times obituaries over the years, including those for Drs. Clement Finch, Walter Stamm, John Hogness, Edwin Krebs and others.

He received the Howard W. Blakeslee Award of the American Heart Association three times and was the first recipient of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. His book Who Goes First? The Story of Self-Experimentation in Medicine was published in 1998.

Marshall HorwitzMarshall Horwitz, UW professor of pathology, medicine, genome sciences, and biology will receive the 2011 Alumni Early Achievement Award. This award honors alumni who graduated from medical school within the last 20 years and have made significant contributions to clinical care, medical science, humanitarianism or administrative activities.

Horwitz received his medical and doctoral degrees from the UW Medical Scientist Training Program, which he now directs. Following his medicine residency and fellowship in the Division of Medical Genetics, Horwitz joined the faculty in 1995. Horwitz investigates hematologic malignancies and bone marrow failure syndromes. His honors include the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, as well as membership in the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Altman and Horwitz will be honored during the All-School Reunion weekend at a reception Saturday, June 4, at 5:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Seattle. A dinner will follow. All alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the UW School of Medicine are invited to attend. Information and registration is online. Register by May 20. 

   COPE online training tool helps physicians prescribe painkillers safely

UW Medicine has announced the creation of an up-to-date online training tool that will help doctors and other prescribing providers respond to new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements concerning opioids, commonly known as painkiller medications.

Prescription opioid abuse is now the fastest growing form of drug abuse in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional drug overdose is a leading cause of injury death in 17 states. The FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy for chronic opioid prescribers, announced in late April, is aimed at educating providers on how to reduce risks associated with opioid treatment of chronic non-cancer pain. All opioid manufacturers must be fully compliant with the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy within 120 days.

Developed over a period of six years, COPE (Collaborative Opioid Prescribing Education), the UW’s interactive, educational training tool, is designed to help prescribers and patients improve communication when making decisions about chronic opioid therapy. Doctor-patient trust is necessary in decision-making; otherwise, patients may be less likely to follow medication instructions, or they may take extra doses or combine them inappropriately with other medications or alcohol. They may even seek out multiple prescribers or try to obtain medications from outside the medical system. These practices increase the risk of both accidental overdose and abuse.

“COPE is unique because it goes beyond typical factual content about opioid pharmacology and effectiveness of opioids for pain to provide training about goal setting and communication skills ,” said Mark Sullivan, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

“COPE offers videotaped clinical scenarios that provide learning opportunities and can help build trust between doctors and patients so that they are able to have the kind of crucial conversations needed to address chronic pain.”

UW Medicine’s leadership in pain management dates to the early 1960s, when it established the world’s first multidisciplinary pain clinic. Washington is the first state to issue an opioid dosing guideline that may become a model for other states. The state passed a bill that will require mandatory education and use of a prescription monitoring program and a clinical tracking tool to be implemented in the state as of July 1.

Medical specialists are working with the UW Center for Commercialization on broad dissemination of the COPE tool. COPE is the only web-based training proven to be effective in a randomized trial. More information about COPE may be found at: www.COPE-pain.org

   Lauren Gansemer wins 2011 Siemens-ASCP Laboratory Medicine Scholarship

Lauren Gansemer, a fifth-year medical laboratory student, has won a Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics and American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) scholarship. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 138,000 new laboratory professionals will be needed in the workforce by 2012, but schools will graduate fewer than 50,000. The annual scholarship program aims to help defray education costs, promote medical laboratory science as a rewarding career, and address the laboratory workforce shortage. This year, ASCP received 451 applications, nearly double the number of applications received last year.


WWAMI Regional News

   Anchorage MEDEX trains physician assistants in human and animal care

Alaska MEDEXPhysician assistants (PAs) are the sole primary care providers in many rural Alaska communities. Practicing medicine in rural Alaska presents many unique opportunities and challenges. In addition to providing medical care to human community members, the rural medical provider may be called on to provide volunteer urgent care to the four-legged community member -- the working dogs of the Alaska bush.

Despite the dominance of snow machines and four wheelers in rural Alaska, dog teams are still widely used to support general transportation needs, trapping, wood hauling and racing. Dog kennels are common in many Alaska villages and may have 10 or more dogs per kennel. Frequently physician assistants have the most urgent care experience in these rural communities.

The Anchorage MEDEX program, the WWAMI physician assistant program in Alaska, with the assistance of a local veterinarian, provides a workshop to prepare rural PA students to encounter common urgent dog care problems. Dogs may require sutures for minor lacerations or need to be stabilized for transportation to an urban center for emergency veterinary services.

The workshop covers physical assessment of dogs for urgent problems including how to restrain an animal for evaluation, assess dehydration and administer emergency rehydration, perform minor suturing, recognize signs of shock, remove fishhooks, assess frostbite and understand the effects of over-the-counter human medications frequently given to dogs. Students are also taught to understand the sporadic risk of Alaskan dog handlers being infected by Echinoccoccus, an organism common to Alaskan dogs.   

Pat Hensch, PA-C MEDEX Anchorage faculty member, has plenty of experience in caring for animals.

“While I was practicing out in Bethel, Alaska for nearly 20 years there was many a time I was the only source for animal care,” Hensch said.  “I sutured and splinted many highly prized dogs and sled dogs. I even x-rayed Atlas, DeeDee Jonrowe’s lead dog, for a shoulder injury!  I also treated cats, pet birds and ferrets for various illnesses and injuries. I've hung IV's on kitchen lights to a pregnant border collie hit by a water delivery truck; tried to get an asthmatic dog to inhale albuterol; and, who knew — tetracycline helps birds! I called my own veterinarian in Anchorage many times and was thankful for his help and expertise.”

As a pioneer in PA education, MEDEX continues to be innovate in identifying, creating, and filling new niches for PAs as a strategy for expanding health-care access. Alaska MEDEX graduates commonly live and work in places where there are no other providers or major medical centers.  Alaska WWAMI’s goal is to train PA students to provide comprehensive care to the entire community.

(Photo above, lefto to right: MEDEX students Riley Bennett (left) and Jennifer Decker tend to one of their animal patients, Teddy.) 


Upcoming Events

The following is a listing of some upcoming events that may be of interest to the UW Medicine community. Additional events are listed on the UW Medicine events calendar.  

Cardiothoracic Surgery’s 20th Annual Visiting Professor, May 13

Learn from My Mistakes: A Personal Journey toward High Reliability Team Performance by Thoralf M. Sundt, 3:30 p.m., May13, Health Sciences Building, Room K-069. Sundt is chief of cardiac surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. Prior to joining MGH in 2011, Sundt spent nearly a decade at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he was vice-chair of the Department of Surgery, and started studying medical error, its causes and prevention. Sundt will also participate in teaching rounds and research presentations. Contact Georgia Barroso at georgie@u.washington.edu or 206.543.3093 for more information.

Clinical Transition Ceremony, May 27

Second-year medical students receive their white coats, a symbol of their transition from classroom learning into the clinical phase of their training, 4 p.m., Friday, May 27, Meany Hall for the Performing Arts, Seattle campus. Family, friends, alumni, faculty and staff are welcome to attend.  RSVP and register by Monday, May 16.

11th Annual All-School Reunion Weekend, June 3 – 4

Weekend events include reception, dinner, special ceremony honoring the classes of 1951, 1956 and 1961 to celebrate their 60th, 55th and 50th reunions, respectively; a UW Medicine alumni family lunch; a tour of UW Medicine Research at South Lake Union; and UW Medicine alumni awards presentations. Learn more at about the reunion weekend or contact the UW Medicine Alumni Relations office at 206.685.1875, 1.866.633.2586 or medalum@uw.edu

Investiture of Doctoral Hoods and Physician’s Oath Ceremony, June 4

Investiture of Doctoral Hoods and the Physician's Oath Ceremony for  the Sixty-Second Graduating Class of Medicine, 10 a.m., Saturday, June 4, Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, University of Washington Seattle. Contact Trish Zander at 206.616.8221 or trhishz@uw.edu for more information.

Algae and Human Health Symposium, July 15

Algae and Human Health Symposium, 8:30 a.m. - noon, July 15, Kane Hall. Health professionals and biomedical scientists interested in algal toxins or the nutritional benefits of algae can register to attend speaker sessions in the morning and paper sessions in the afternoon. Speakers represent the University of Miami and European Centre for Environmental and Human Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and a general practice physician and author. Registration is $80. The symposium is a special session at the combined Phycological Society of America and International Society of Protistologists 2011 annual meeting this summer in Seattle. Read about the symposium speakers in UW Today. For more information, contact Patricia Tester, 252.728.8792; Susan Brawley, 207.581.2973; or Gaile Moe at 206.281.2238.

Pre-Curriculum Review Advisory Committee Feedback

Comments about the medical school curriculum can be made online. This survey website requires a UW Net ID. Contact Kellie Engle at kaengle@uw.edu or 206.543.2249 for more information.

Continuing Medical Education

Visit Continuing Medical Education for more information on upcoming classes.




In the News

UW Medicine magazine 

The spring 2011 issue of UW Medicine, the biannual magazine for alumni and friends of the UW School of Medicine, is now available online.

Media coverage of UW Medicine    

Online News Archives  

UW Medicine website