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May 27, 2011

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. Ramsey

School of Medicine, a strong financial supporter of students

Dear Colleagues: 

Each year the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Financial Aid Summary Report (FASR) provides medical schools with national information about medical school tuition, student debt, and financial assistance provided to students. As part of this report, each school receives a statement in which its status in these areas is benchmarked with other medical schools nationally. I recently received the 2009-2010 report.

I am very pleased to tell you that the University of Washington School of Medicine is doing very well in comparison with other medical schools in key areas. Our tuition for first-year medical students is approximately $3,500 lower for resident students than tuition at other public medical schools and about $10,000 lower than tuition at all medical schools, public and private. In addition, the average debt among our students graduating with debt was about $2,000 lower than other public schools and $9,500 lower than all medical schools, public and private.

Perhaps most gratifying, the distribution of grants and scholarships without a service component was higher at the UWSOM than at most other public medical schools. In 2009-2010, 578 of our medical students received nearly 730 grants and scholarships without a service obligation. The percentage of financial aid for our students that consists of grants and scholarships was higher than the national average and considerably higher compared with other public medical schools. The UWSOM was among the top public medical schools for providing scholarship support for our students.

This strong focus on providing scholarship support has placed the UW School of Medicine at the top of public medical schools in support for our students. There are many individuals and groups to thank for this success. Brooks Ragen long held a leadership role as chair of the School of Medicine Scholarship Committee and had remarkable success in that position leading efforts to secure scholarships; he continues to play a vital role as a member of the committee. I anticipate that the committee’s new chair, Ann Ramsay-Jenkins, will be a wonderful resource in procuring scholarships for our students. 

Although we are doing well in supporting our students relative to other schools, we must not become complacent. Despite our relative success with raising scholarships, the debt burden of our medical students is much too high. Last year, the average debt of our graduating students was over $131,000. In addition, tuitions are rising nationally, and I anticipate the tuition increase will continue. Scholarships are a lifeline for our students to enable them to choose a specialty and practice location without the constraints related to high levels of debt. Student scholarships must remain a top priority in our fundraising efforts.

In an earlier Online News message, I described the annual scholarship dinner held in February that brought together students and scholarship donors. The remarkable Huckabay family $1 million gift for scholarships that I was surprised and delighted to announce that evening will form the basis for many new major scholarships for our students. As I mentioned in that letter, UW Medicine is leveraging this generous donation from the Huckabay family to match gifts to endowed scholarships. Your gifts for scholarships will be doubled, thanks to this wonderful gift. If you are interested in learning more about the Huckabay Family Challenge scholarship matching opportunity, please contact Caroline Anderson in the Advancement Office at 206.221.2899 or by email at cmanders@uw.edu.

I thank Susan Huckabay and her family, Brooks Ragen, Ann Ramsay-Jenkins, and the large number of donors throughout UW Medicine and our many communities who have contributed to scholarships on behalf of our students. Your hard work and investment in our students will have enormous benefit directly related to our mission to improve 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



   'Designer' proteins may one day fight flu 

David BakerResearchers from the UW Department of Biochemistry and The Scripps Research Institute have demonstrated the use of computational methods to design new antiviral proteins not found in nature, but capable of targeting specific surfaces of flu virus molecules. The research appears in the May 12 issue of Science.

One goal of such protein design would be to block molecular mechanisms involved in cell invasion and virus reproduction. Computationally designed, surface-targeting antiviral proteins might also have diagnostic and therapeutic potential in identifying and fighting viral infections, including those that are resistant to anti-viral medication.

The lead authors of the study are senior fellows Sarel J. Fleishman and Timothy Whitehead of the UW Department of Biochemistry, and Damian Ekiert from the Department of Molecular Biology at The Scripps Research Institute. The senior authors are Ian Wilson from Scripps and David Baker (photo, above), UW professor of biochemistry and adjunct professor of bioengineering.

The researchers note that additional studies are required to see if such designed proteins can help in diagnosing, preventing or treating viral illness. What the study does suggest is the feasibility of using computer design to create new proteins with antiviral properties.

Read the full story in UW Today. 

   Researchers identify new genetic mutations in children with autism

Brian O'RoakScientists at the UW Department of Genome Sciences have identified several sporadic or “de novo” genetic mutations in children with autism spectrum disorder. The research was first published online May 15 in Nature Genetics.

Lead researcher Brian O’Roak, senior fellow in the UW Department of Genome Sciences, and his colleagues analyzed the exomes, or all of the protein coding portions of the genome, of 20 individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their parents, an approach called trio-based exome sequencing. The researchers found 21 newly occurring mutations – not inherited from either parent ­– 11 of which altered proteins. Proteins altered by genetic mutations may hold clues to the biological pathways involved in the development of the disease. The abnormal proteins or the pathways they affect could draw interest as targets in the design of preventive or treatment drugs.

In four of the 20 families studied, O’Roak and colleagues identified disruptive new mutations that potentially cause autism. In examining the clinical data on the child in each of the four families, they learned that these children were among the most severely affected of the study group, both in intellectual disability and in their autistic features. These initial findings point to the possibility that these new sporadic disruptive genetic mutations could contribute substantially to the underlying mechanisms and severity of autism in perhaps 20 percent of the cases in which no larger family history of autism exists. In some cases, the combination of newly appearing mutations and those inherited from the parents may worsen the severity of the disorder.

Read the full story in UW Today.

   UW to host conference on ethical considerations in research collaborations

The University of Washington will host a two-day conference, Sept. 22-23, on “Ethical Considerations in Research Collaborations.”

The conference will bring together nationally recognized speakers for a discussion of ethical challenges in three areas: university to industry collaboration, researcher to researcher collaboration, and international collaboration. Among the objectives of the conference are to create a summary document of best practices for sharing primary data and biological samples, including maintaining and building research repositories; and to create and share an executive summary of the discussion of shared definitions, regulatory requirements and common practices among researchers in the university and industry sectors. Participants will take home suggested best practices and educational materials, and will create new networks for industry and cross-cultural collaborations.

The conference is sponsored by the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity.

For more information or to register, visit the conference website


Clinical Care

   UW Medicine goes smoke- and tobacco-free 

Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center will become smoke- and tobacco-free facilities Tuesday, May 31, also designated by the World Health Organization as World No Tobacco Day.

All designated smoking areas will be phased out on both campuses. The two medical centers join Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, which has been smoke free since 2005, and more than half of the other King County hospitals – 13 out of 21 – that are already smoke free.

Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, put his full support behind the initiative from the start. “Health professionals should be leaders in demonstrating activities and behaviors that can improve health,” he said. “One such activity is exercise and the other is a healthy lifestyle, which would include not smoking.”

UW researchers, including those based at the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME), have concluded that improving smoking cessation efforts could make a difference in health outcomes around the world. IHME research published in PLoS Medicine in 2009 found that smoking, high blood pressure, and being overweight or obese are responsible for the largest number of preventable deaths in the United States.

Committees that included physicians, nurses, pharmacists, administrators, patient advisors, other staff and people who smoke spearheaded the smoke-free initiative at each hospital.

UW Medicine’s approach is unique in that its medical centers will systematically identify and treat patients admitted to the hospital who say they would like to quit smoking. Starting in June 2011, all patients will be screened for smoking and other tobacco use. Nicotine replacement therapy and counseling will be offered to all patients, and one-day supplies of nicotine replacement therapy will be available at cost for staff and visitors. Patients will be referred to appropriate community resources upon discharge, including the Washington State Quitline, an effective, evidence-based tobacco cessation program available to all Washington state residents. 

Each hospital is also providing information and resources to help staff quit smoking or remain tobacco free at work. Staff with UW benefits will have free access to the Quit for Life Program, which includes counseling and all U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved cessation medications.

“Early in my career as a general internist providing primary care, a large number of my patients who were generally healthy were also smokers,” said Ramsey. “A major part of the healthcare plan we developed for those patients was directed at smoking cessation. Based on my experience, many patients who smoke are unable to quit based on education alone. Assistance from health professionals can have a larger impact.” 

The Joint Commission will unveil in July 2011 performance measures to address the assessment and treatment of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use for all hospitalized patients. 

Draft tobacco measures currently include screening patients and tracking those who receive or refuse counseling, cessation medications and follow-up care to help them quit.

   UW Regional Heart Center patient expresses gratitude by donating a tree 

Sugar Pine TreeA young sugar pine tree outside the UW Surgery Pavilion now stands as a growing reminder of Andrew Russell’s gratitude. Russell, a former patient at the UW Regional Heart Center, donated the tree on behalf of all patients of the center, and as one way to acknowledge the staff and the outstanding care he received.

“Life is precious,” wrote Russell in a thank you letter. “Thanks to the team leaders and staff of the Cardiology Diagnostic Center, I have an improved quality of life.”

In addition to commending the entire staff at the Regional Heart Center, Russell acknowledged the team leaders involved with his case: Mohan Viswanathan, UW assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology, registered nurse Maryrose Trubiroha and nurse practitioner Monica Knapp, teaching associate in the Division of Cardiology.

“I would hope that the presence of this pine tree would complement the healing and nurturing spirit practiced by all the team members of the Cardiology Diagnostic Center and provide a source of wonder and peace for all who gaze upon her,” wrote Russell in a letter about his gift.

“It’s rare enough that we get any feedback from patients about their experience,” said John S. Capps, administrator of the UW Medicine Regional Heart Center. “This is a delightful example of Andy and Denise [Russell’s] sharing, in a unique fashion, an eloquent gesture of thanks, saying, “I enjoyed my care and everyone who touched my care here.”' Capps added: “It meant quite a bit to the staff and the physicians involved in his care, and it means a lot to all of us at the Regional Heart Center.”

The tree, which Russell nurtured from one seed from a fallen cone, was planted in a ceremony May 10. Currently about three feet tall, the tree is expected to reach a height of over 190 feet when mature. You can find the tree on the lawn just south of the walking path on the south end of the Surgery Pavilion.

Photo: Former patient Andrew Russell, kneeling, poses with the sugar pine tree he donated in recognition of the staff and care provided at the UW Regional Heart Center. Joining him at the May 10 tree planting ceremony are (from left): Jordan Prutkin, acting assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology; Steve Zieniewicz, executive director of UW Medical Center; Monica Knapp, teaching associate in the Division of Cardiology; Denise Russell, Andrew Russell’s wife; Donna Nyenhuis, nurse coordinator in the Electrophysiology Laboratory; Jeanne Poole, professor of medicine and director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory; Mary Trubiroha, registered nurse; and Mohan Viswanathan, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology. 

   National Association of Public Hospitals recognizes UW Medicine's patient safety initiative

UW Medicine has won a 2011 Safety Net Award Honorable Mention from the National Association of Public Hospitals for a project to reduce central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLA-BSI).

A multidisciplinary team across Harborview and UW Medical Center developed a standardized, evidence-based process for the training, placement, management, and timely and safe removal of catheters, as well as surveillance of CLA-BSI. The effort resulted in a more than 60 percent reduction in such infections across the system from 2008 to 2010.

The UW Medicine team was led by Timothy Dellit, associate medical director at Harborview Medical Center (HMC); Elizabeth McNamara, clinical operations manager for Infection Control at HMC; Mika Sinanan, UW professor of surgery; and Vanessa Makarewicz, medical/surgical/clinical nurse specialist at UW Medical Center. Dellit, UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is associate medical director for infection control, quality improvement, and risk management at Harborview. Team members will present their work at the University HealthSystem Consortium Quality & Safety Forum in September.



Education and Training

   Christine Gleason and Anne Lynn honored for excellence in mentoring women, minority faculty 

Christine GleasonChristine Gleason, the W. Alan Hodson Endowed Chair in Pediatrics and head of the Division of Neonatology, and Anne Lynn, UW professor of anesthesiology, have been selected to receive a 2011 UW Medicine Award for Excellence in Mentoring Women and Minority Faculty.

Christine Gleason (photo, right) has mentored numerous students and professionals since joining the UW and Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center in 1998. She has served as advisor and mentor to undergraduate students in her research laboratory as well as medical students, residents, fellows and young faculty in the UW Medical Center and Seattle Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

“Christine takes a special interest in fostering the careers of others at all levels of training,” wrote Sandra Juul, UW associate division head for scholarship and research in pediatrics, in a nomination letter. “She has a very successful career in academics, yet she remains humble and approachable…It is a privilege to learn from her.”

Gleason is director of the UW’s Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Training Program. She recently published a book about her early experiences in neonatology titled Almost Home: Stories of Hope and the Human Spirit in the Neonatal ICU.

Anne LynnAnn Lynn (photo, left) joined the UW faculty in 1981. As a professor in anesthesiology and adjunct professor in pediatrics, and as attending staff in the operating rooms at both Seattle Children’s and UW Medical Center, she mentors numerous residents, fellows and young faculty, many of whom are women.

“Without regard to background, seniority or experience, she makes seemingly unattainable goals seem possible,” wrote one nominator for the award.

In 2005, residents at Seattle Children’s voted to award Lynn the Apple Seed Pediatric Anesthesia Teaching Award from the UW Department of Anesthesiology, and in 2006, she received the department’s J.J. Bonica Faculty Mentoring Award. She is author or co-author on scores of peer-reviewed research articles and other publications, and a sought-after national speaker on the safe use of drugs for pediatric pain relief.

   Colin McCluney to serve as ASMA's Education and Advocacy Fellow

Colin McCluney, a third-year student in the UW School of Medicine, has been elected the 2011-2012 Education and Advocacy Fellow of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). He will take a year off from his School of Medicine clinical coursework to work and live in Washington, D.C.

In his new role, McCluney will work on AMSA's education and advocacy goals by helping to coordinate various institutes and conferences, including the AMSA National Convention, and by working on curricular reform efforts. He will also contribute to AMSA's health policy and legislative work through supporting the advocacy efforts of members and by serving as the legislative director for the organization. McCluney served as an AMSA intern before starting medical school.

   Benjamin Graham, alumnus and trailblazer, dies

Benjamin GrahamC. Benjamin Graham Jr., ’58, ’62, the first student in a wheelchair to graduate from medical school at the University of Washington – and possibly the first in the nation – died March 19. He was 80.

Graham (seated front, left in photo) who contracted polio while an undergraduate student at Washington State University (WSU), put his studies on hold and left WSU to get treatment for polio. Afterward, he finished his bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois because it had accommodations for wheelchairs.

A top chemistry student, the Missouri native was denied entrance by numerous medical schools because he was in a wheelchair. The UW School of Medicine – then in its infancy in the 1950s -- was the only school to admit him. “The UW has a young staff and progressive ideas. I am honored to find myself a part of such an institution,” he wrote to his parents.

He earned his medical degree, and did his residency, at the UW School of Medicine.

Graham was the first pediatric intern at Children’s Orthopedic Hospital (now Seattle Children’s) in 1958 and the first University Hospital radiology resident in 1959.

Ben Graham plays ballHe was appointed to the UW medical school faculty in 1963, and was named professor of radiology and pediatrics in 1974. He also was director of radiology at Seattle Children’s. He was named an emeritus professor but continued to work at Children’s after his retirement.

Graham (with ball in photo, left) also played wheelchair basketball and helped organize the first wheelchair basketball team in Seattle. He was the 15th player in the nation inducted into the Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame.


– Jon Marmor, managing editor, Columns magazine, and editor, Viewpoints magazine, contributed this article.



WWAMI Regional News

   Montana WWAMI program sponsors faculty development conference

Montana Faculty Development WorkshopThe Montana Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and the Montana WWAMI program sponsored a faculty development conference at Big Sky Conference Center in Bozeman, Mont., April 8 – 10. More than 35 Montana WWAMI faculty members attended, with an additional 15 participants from Washington and Idaho.

With over 275 Montana WWAMI teaching faculty, Montana continues to develop a culture of teaching. The conference provided the faculty with tools to become more effective clinical educators. The conference addressed three specific teaching tracks: the early clinical preceptors in the Montana State University Bozeman area, as well as the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP) preceptors who teach students between first and second years of medical school; preceptors who teach in the third- and fourth-year clerkships in Montana; and those who teach in the Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST) and the WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE).

Key speakers at the event included Gil Welch, a well-known expert in preventive care and cancer from Dartmouth Medical School, who spoke on the topic of over diagnosis in medicine; William Phillips, UW School of Medicine Medical Student Education Section; and Ron Loge, a clinical educator from Dillon, Mont.  (Photo: Ron Loge, right, chats with Frank Batcha of Hailey, Idaho.)

Topics of plenary talks and breakout sessions included ARTE – Articulating and Reflecting Tacit Expertise; Two Misleading Numbers (Relative Change/Survival); Guiding First-Year Medical Students into the Culture of Medicine; the Early Medical Student and Feedback; Teaching Using an Electronic Health Record; Giving Effective Feedback; R/UOP Pearls for Preceptors; Effective Site Orientation; Choosing a Specialty; and the Future of WRITE/TRUST.

The Saturday and Sunday workshops were hosted by UWSOM TRUST and WRITE Leaders and the UW School of Medicine Colleges Faculty.

Visit the conference web page for the conference program, speakers, PowerPoint presentations, and handouts.

For more information please contact Jay Erickson, UW School of Medicine assistant dean and WWAMI clinical coordinator/Montana, and clinical professor of family medicine, at jerick@uw.edu or 406.862.3810. 


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.  

Clement Finch Symposium, May 27

Lectures and a reception honor the scientific legacy of Clement Finch, founder and first head of the Division of Hematology, 1 to 5 p.m., Friday, May 27, Foege Auditorium. Finch was a faculty member for more than 60 years. He died last year at the age of 94. Symposium speakers will present new data in the fields that Finch launched, including iron physiology, iron deficiency and nutrition, hemochromatosis, and erythropopiesis. No registration is required, but RSVP is requested for reception. Contact adimauna@uw.edu or 206.543.3360 for more information. 

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.

Proteomics and Aging Workshop, June 17 - 18

This workshop will feature proteomic technologies for the study of the biology of aging in vertebrate and invertebrate models. Topics will include detection of oxidative modifications of proteins in aging, proteome half-life and turnover estimates, mitochrondrial protein expression in aging, and differences in proteomes of long- vs. short-lived strains. Speakers include Bryan Fonslow, Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Brad Gibson, Buck Institute for Research on Aging; John Hart, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; Ursula Jakob, University of Michigan; Irwin Kurland, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Rena A.S. Robinson, University of Pittsburgh; and Michael MacCoss, UW. Registration is open to all students, post- doctoral students and faculty of academic and research institutions. There is no registration fee. Those who plan to attend should send their name and contact information to Kathy Fawthrop  at kathyfaw@uw.edu and Peter Rabinovitch at petersr@uw.edu. Posters are welcome. For more information, visit http://www.uwaging.org 

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. 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