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July 9, 2010

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Message from Paul Ramsey

Paul G. RamseyFaculty promotions mark excellence in teaching, research, and/or patient care

Dear Colleagues: 

It is with great pleasure that I announce the promotion to a higher academic rank of 92 UW Medicine regular faculty members and 148 UW Medicine clinical and affiliate faculty members. These promotions became effective on July 1.

Among regular faculty members, 47 individuals were promoted to associate professor, 10 were promoted to research associate professor, 34 were promoted to professor, and one was promoted to research professor. The list of faculty members promoted, organized by department and within department by rank, is available here.

Among clinical and affiliate faculty members, 148 faculty were promoted to a higher academic rank this year. The list of faculty can be accessed here.

Promotion is the primary marker for our faculty of sustained, excellent faculty teaching, research, and/or patient care on behalf of our mission of improving health. Your efforts to improve the health of the public are greatly appreciated. Congratulations to each individual who achieved a new academic rank in 2009.  I, and many others, value your contributions.


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




 UW alliance for comparative effectiveness gains ground in research efforts

Comparative effectiveness research has received significant public attention since the federal government designated $1.1 billion in funding toward it in the 2009 economic stimulus bill. Even more recently, the research received a boost in the federal health reform law with establishment of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Comparative effectiveness research aims to determine the benefits and harms of different health-care treatment options — including drugs, medical devices and surgeries. New technologies emerge every day in health care, but how effective and efficient are these advances for patients, and the health-care system?

That’s the question researchers at the UW are tackling to help patients get the most appropriate and effective treatment for an illness or injury. In searching for efficiencies, scientists also hope to help individuals and the health system save money by minimizing the use of expensive, ineffective treatments.

The UW has housed some of the nation’s foremost scientists in comparative effectiveness research for years. Until recently, these researchers were largely working independently in individual units and centers across campus. But that all changed in November 2009, when several centers came together to form the UW Centers for Comparative and Health Systems Effectiveness (CHASE) Alliance.

The founding members of the Alliance have expertise in health services research, health policy and economics, technology assessment, patient-reported outcomes and health systems evaluation, among others. Founding organizational members include: Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, School of Nursing; Comparative Effectiveness, Cost and Outcomes Center, Schools of Medicine and Public Health;  Department of Health Services, School of Public Health; Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Schools of Medicine and Public Health; Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program, School of Pharmacy; Seattle Quality of Life Group, School of Public Health; Surgical Outcomes Research Center, School of Medicine; Veteran’s Affairs Health Services Research & Development Center, VA Puget Sound Health Care System.

Visit the CHASE website for more information.

Neuroscience for Kids website wins Science magazine award 

Photo of Eric ChudlerKids -- parents and teachers, too -- can keep their minds agile this summer by learning about the brain. Games, experiments, tricks, coloring pages, crafts, puzzles, humorous songs, e-mail cards and recipes for edible anatomic models are just a few of the many participatory activities in the free website, Neuroscience for Kids.

The site was created in 1997 by Eric Chudler, UW research associate professor of bioengineering and of anesthesiology and pain medicine. Last month Neuroscience for Kids won a prestigious SPORE (Science Prize for Online Resources in Education) award from Science magazine. The June 25 edition features "Resources for Anyone Interested in the Brain," authored by the site's originator.

The site lets kids explore just about every aspect of the nervous system in people and animals. It includes questions posed by kids to experts, like "Do penguins or horses sleep?" It can also help children become more understanding of autism, intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, mental illness, tics, memory loss and other common conditions that affect kids and adults they know.

Middle school science instructors and research neuroscientists worked together to create Neuroscience for Kids child-friendly materials, as well as lesson plans for teachers.

In his June 25 Science essay, Chudler wrote that he hopes the site will "spark curiosity about science in young students" and that concerted efforts by scientists, educators and parents "may entice young scholars into the mysteries of the nervous system, teach them to ask questions, and give them the confidence to seek answers."

Watch a video of chudler demonstrating some of the home or classroom activities described in Neuroscience for Kids on the UW Medicine You Tube Channel.



Clinical Care

   UW Medicine tackles bloodstream infections with new certification requirements

Photo of Mika SinananCentral line-associated bloodstream infections are considered “never events” by federal and state regulators. Within the UW Medicine health system, 10 to 25 central venous catheters (CVC) are placed daily for monitoring vital signs or for administering food and medications. When infections occur, consequences include greater risk of morbidity, higher costs and longer hospital stays.

“Patient safety is an increasingly important national issue,” said Mika Sinanan, UW professor of surgery and president of UW Physicians. “As part of the breakthrough goal, UW Medical Center is targeting central line-associated infections with a standardized training and certification program, specialized nursing teams that closely monitor CVC patients, and improved documentation to track catheter placements in the medical record.”

As of July 1, all faculty, fellows, residents and nurses who place central lines in non-emergent situations will be required to complete a CVC training and certification program. The curriculum includes computer-based instruction on the proper techniques for skin preparation, draping and placement. It also provides practice on models at the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies (ISIS).

In June, the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine became the first clinical service to complete CVC training for 100 percent of its residents.

“As a medical specialty that has led the way in patient safety over the last 25 years, the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine is committed to continuing that tradition at UW in partnership with other patient safety advocates and leaders,” said Debra Schwinn, UW professor and department chair. “Having our residents, and soon our faculty, lead the way in completing CVC training is one small part we can do to support UW Medicine’s patient safety initiatives.”

This article was adapted from UW Medical Center Executive Director Steve Zieniewicz’s letter to employees in the June 15, 2010 issue of Spotlight.

  Harborview writer-in-residence Wendy Call helps patients tell their stories

Since the beginning of June, Seattle writer Wendy Call has been working in residence at Harborview Medical Center. She has been meeting one-on-one with individual patients, helping them to tell their stories as they navigate challenging medical conditions or end-of-life experiences. She has also been meeting with patient support groups and with therapy groups, conducting writing workshops to help patients express themselves more fully as they work to return to health.

Her next project will deliver haiku poetry to Harborview in-patients on their meal trays with an invitation to create their own poetic compositions.

"I'm inspired by the thoughtfulness and lyricism of the staff members’ and patients’ writing," Call says. "Harborview is full of powerful stories, and I’m honored to be able to witness and share a few of them."

The residency will conclude with a lunchtime reading at noon Friday, July 16, in the Maleng Building, room 111/112. In addition to her own work, Call will read selected patient writings and discuss her experiences at Harborview. The event is open to all members of the Harborview community.

The writer-in-residence program is funded by grants from 4Culture and the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. For additional information, or to schedule a writing consultation, contact Wendy Call at wlc@wendycall.com.



Education and Training

  Clement Finch, hematology pioneer and SOM faculty member, 1915-2010

Clement A. Finch, a pioneering hematologist and the first chief of hematology at the UW, died at the age of 94 on June 28 in San Diego. Finch served on the UW faculty from 1949 to 1981 and remained on the faculty for more than 60 years.

Finch was born on July 4, 1915 in Broadalbin, New York. He graduated from Union College in 1936 and received a medical degree from the University of Rochester in 1941. He trained in hospitals in Boston. Pneumonia pre-empted Finch’s desire to become a soldier in World War II. But he decided to use his research skills to help the military by studying the length of time blood could be stored for transfusions.

Finch moved to Seattle in the late 1940s to establish the Division of Hematology at the UW.

During Finch’s tenure at the UW, he conducted seminal research on how iron is metabolized in the body and the physiology of red blood cells. He used radioisotopes to measure the body’s production of red cells. His research revolutionized physicians' understanding of various types of anemia and formed the basis for what became standard tests for anemia. He and colleagues in the Division of Hematology worked closely with the Puget Sound Blood Bank to improve standards for red blood cell storage and preservation.

Finch’s lab established the principles of red-cell production and internal iron metabolism, which formed the basis of a physiological classification of anemia and polycythemia. This resulted in his publication of The Red Cell Manual, a book designed for medical students. Finch also served as an advisor to the World Health Organization on dietary recommendation in developing countries. He used his work on anemia and iron metabolism to gauge the nutritional status of a population. Finch was a member of  the National Academy of Sciences and served as the 8th president of the American Society of Hematology.

Dr. Finch is survived by his wife Genia, four children and three grandchildren. His obituary appeared in The New York Times Tuesday, July 6.

 Melvin Morgan Figley, founding chair of the UW Department of Radiology, dies

Photo of Melvin M. FigleyMelvin Morgan Figley, UW emeritus professor of radiology and medicine, died at his home in Grantham, NH on June 7.  He was 89.

After leaving an appointment as associate professor of radiology at the University of Michigan in 1958, Figley was appointed professor and chair of the UW Department of Radiology where he served until 1985.  He retired as emeritus professor of radiology and medicine 1986. 

Figley is known as one of the fathers of modern angiography; he helped develop cardiac catherization and was also an expert in pulmonary radiology and a gifted teacher and scholar. 

His hospital appointments and academic honors are manifold and include Phi Beta Kappa, the John Harvard Fellowship, Markle Scholarship, Gold Medal - Association of University Radiologists, Honorary Fellow - Royal College of Radiologists, Royal Australasian College of Radiologists and the Royal Society of Medicine. Other recognitions include the Distinguished Service Award - American Roentgen Ray Society and the Gold Medal - American College of Radiology. Figley served on numerous editorial boards including Investigative Radiology, Western Journal of Medicine, and was editor emeritus of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

A private memorial service was planned for Dr. Figley in Grantham, NH. Figley’s wife Margaret “Peggy,” died in 2007.

Memorial donations may be made to: University of Washington Foundation, Box 358045, Seattle, WA 98195. Memo: The Melvin M. Figley M.D. Endowed Fund in Radiology.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday Evenings at the Genome public lecture series, July 14-28

To share the cutting-edge advances in genome sciences with the public, the Department of Genome Sciences hosts a Wednesday Evenings at the Genome public lecture series each summer. The series is designed for a general audience with no background knowledge in genetics or other biological subjects and provides opportunities to chat with presenters:

July 14:  Making an impact on malaria: What can a geneticist do?  by Carol Sibley, UW professor of genome sciences
July 21:  Watching evolution in action by Maitreya Dunham, UW assistant professor of genome sciences 
July 28:  Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam: who do your genes come from? by Joe Felsenstein, UW professor
of genome sciences and biology

Presentations begin at 7 p.m., W.H. Foege Building Auditorium (S-060), followed by refreshments at 8 p.m. Contact Carlene Cross at crossc2@uw.edu or 206.221.5374 for more information.

Workshop on survival skills for the research years, July 15-16

Everything you need to know to thrive in academics! 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, July 15, and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, July 16, South Lake Union, Room C123 A/B. This free two-day course covers grant writing, scientific writing, oral presentation, job negotiations and other topics. The course is open to fellows and junior faculty from all departments. The workshop is presented by the UW Department of Medicine. Lynn Schnapp, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and Tom Hawn, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, are the instructors. For more information and to register, click here.

Writing grief and loss at Harborview, July 16

Harborview Medical Center writer in residence Wendy Call will read from her essays, share work created by Harborview patients in the writers’ workshops she had led at the hospital, and discuss her six-week experience at Harborview. Reading and discussion will take place from noon to 12:45 p.m., Friday, July 16 in the Norm Maleng Bldg. Conference Room (MB 111/112), at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Jefferson Street. Contact Peggy Weiss, Harborview art program manager, at pweiss@u.washington.edu or 206.616.8858 for more information about the writer-in-residence program.

Neurological Surgery Grand Rounds, July 21

Lateral Interbody Arthrodesis for Complex Spinal Deformity Reconstruction 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., Wednesday, July 21, Harborview Research and Training Building, 1st floor Auditorium. Grand Rounds will be presented by Stewart M. Kerr, commander, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy and orthopedic and spinal surgeon, Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth. Contact Debbie Malestky at malestky@u.washington.edu or 206.598.9961 for more information.

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