UW Medicine Insight: July 18, 2016

2016 UW Medicine faculty promotions announced.
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Note: The hyperlinks below go directly to the story. 

RESEARCH: TBI linked to Parkinson's not Alzheimer's
CLINICAL: UW Medicine to offer gender-neutral bathrooms
EDUCATION: The Olympic trials of a pharmacy student 
PEOPLE:  Christy Gullion named chief of staff 
AWARDS: UW center gets top honors for palliative care
EVENTS:  Advanced heart failure course (free)
In the News: Stories involving UW Health Sciences

and much more...

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

UW geneticist and TED Fellow Keolu Fox is working to democratize genome sequencing. "The research community needs to immerse itself in indigenous culture," he says, "or die trying." Listen to his TED Talk.
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2016 UW Medicine faculty promotions announced

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to inform you of the academic promotion of 109 UW Medicine regular faculty and 210 UW Medicine clinical and affiliate faculty, effective July 1, 2016. These individuals have distinguished themselves in a variety of areas essential to achieving our mission of improving the health of the public, including education, research and patient care.

Among regular faculty members, 37 individuals were promoted to professor, 5 to research professor, 57 to associate professor, and 10 to research associate professor. The list of promoted faculty members, organized by department and within department by rank, can be accessed here.

Among clinical and affiliate faculty members, 39 individuals were promoted to clinical or affiliate professor, 74 to clinical associate or affiliate associate professor, and 97 to clinical assistant professor. The list of promoted clinical and affiliate faculty is available here.

Congratulations and thank you to each faculty member who achieved a new academic rank. Your promotion is an indication of your outstanding merit, commitment and accomplishments. Each of you is a valued member of our UW Medicine community.


Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine,
University of Washington

Boxer Muhammed Ali suffered from Parkinson's. (Peter Troshak/Creative Commons Sept. 2012)
cancer gene

Traumatic brain injury linked to Parkinson's not Alzheimer's


Traumatic brain injuries with loss of consciousness do not seem to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease later in life, but did elevate the odds of developing Parkinson's disease. The study, published in JAMA Neurology, was led by Paul Crane, UW professor of medicine (general internal medicine). Crane collaborated with UW Medicine colleagues as well as researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, University of Utah and Rush University Medical Center. Eric Larson, executive director of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, was senior author for the study.

The scientists studied 7,130 older people from three different populations in the U.S. who reported on their history of head injuries and underwent regular cognitive testing. 
People who reported head injuries had a 3.5-fold higher chance of developing Parkinson’s than those who did not, and people who were unconscious for a longer time showed a doubling of Parkinson’s progression compared with those who did not have any head trauma. 

“We’re saying that ‘Hey, even a single head injury with loss of consciousness puts people at a pretty remarkably increased risk of Parkinson’s disease,’” said Crane. Read more on HSNewsBeat. Coverage in Newsweek and TIME.

Inherited mutations tied to advanced prostate cancer

Men with metastatic prostate cancer are five times more likely to harbor inherited mutations in the BRCA1/2 genes and other DNA-repair genes than the general population, irrespective of age or family history of prostate cancer, according to a study by UW and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published in The New England Journal of MedicineScreening for these mutations could help men with prostate cancer get more tailored treatment, provide better clarity on their prognosis and alert family members to their own cancer risks, researchers said. 

“The take home message is that inherited causes of metastatic prostate cancer may be more common than we originally thought,” said Colin Pritchard, UW associate professor of laboratory medicine. Pritchard is the lead scientist, and Peter Nelson, UW professor of medicine (oncology) and a Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center investigator, is the senior author of the multi-institutional study. Read more on HSNewsBeat

In reaction to the study, leading American and British cancer researchers are urging that all men with advanced prostate cancer strongly consider being tested for inherited gene mutations -- both to help steer their treatment and to alert family members who themselves might be at increased risk for a range of cancers. Coverage in The Washington PostBusiness Insider and Health.

Other research news:

  • How safe is condomless sex when partner with HIV takes meds?HealthDay, July 12, 2016
    HIV transmission is highly unlikely among straight couples who have sex without condoms when one partner carries the virus but takes medication, new research suggests. Jared Baeten, vice chair and professor of global health at the UW, is quoted. 
  • Blindness cure on the horizon? Scientists restore eyesight in blind mice, TechTimes, July 12, 2016 
    A new animal study shows researchers were able to help mice with damaged optic nerves see again. Russell Van Gelder, UW professor of ophthalmology who was not involved in the study, is quoted. Scientific American also covered this story.
  • How a hotline helped control dengue outbreaks, The Atlantic, July 8, 2016 
    A team of scientists created a phone service that could accurately point health workers to areas where the disease was emerging. Elaine Nsoesie, UW professor of global health, is quoted. Geekwire also covered this story.
  • The healthiest cities in America, USA Today, July 7, 2016
    At 78.5 years, life expectancy in the United States, while trailing several dozen other countries, has continuously risen over the past century. In this list of the top 25 healthiest cities in America, data on life expectancy came from UW's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
  • Pregnant women's medical care too often affected by race, Newsweek, July 3, 2016  
    The U.S. is the only developed country with rising maternal mortality rates, according to UW's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
  • How EnChroma’s glasses correct color-blindness,Technology Review, June 27, 2016  
    They might look like sunglasses, but EnChroma’s product actually boosts the saturation of red and green light. That helps to improve color vision in people with red-green color-blindness. A 2009 study by Jay Neitz,UW  professor of ophthalmology, is referenced.

Gender-neutral bathroom signage is now at UW Medicine Seattle facilities.
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UW Medicine Seattle to offer gender-neutral bathrooms


UW Medicine recently announced that all of its facilities in Seattle would offer gender-neutral bathrooms and be designated safe places for LGBTQ community members.

UW Medicine has changed about 50 one-stall bathrooms to gender-neutral. Most of the updates only required a sign change though some involved small construction such as removing urinals.
UW Medicine also is partnering with the Seattle Police Department to have those facilities (Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital and Medical Center, UW Medical Center and four neighborhood clinics) designated as Safe Places, a program of sanctuary for LGBTQ community members. 

A rainbow badge at a facility’s entrance denotes participation in the program, and those who seek to get assistance through SPD Safe Place will be able to call the police and wait for an officer to assist. 

The changes came about through a special committee that was established more than two years ago to address clinical competency for the LGBTQ community as well as grow in various outreach possibilities. “How can we be on the front lines of opening our doors to everybody?" said Becky Rusnak, co-chair of UW Medicine's LGBT Clinical Care Advisory Committee. See story on KING TV.


Air hockey-like treadmill lifts athletes, speeds recoveries


The Sports Medicine Center at Husky Stadium is one of a handful of Seattle-area clinics with an AlterG "anti-gravity" treadmill. The treadmill uses air pressure to lift the runner, reducing body weight by as much as 80 percent and lightening the load on limbs. A NASA engineer developed the technology two decades ago as an exercise tool for astronauts; its benefit to hobbled athletes on Earth was recognized in 2008 when the FDA cleared its use as a rehab device. 

“Returning an injured runner to the road and track is part art, part science — and the science has lagged,” said Mark Harrast, a UW Medicine specialist in sports medicine and rehabilitation medicine. Read more on HSNewsBeat.

What’s next for adults with autism?

Gary Stobbe, UW clinical assistant professor of neurology and director of the UW Adult Autism Center, worked with Seattle Children’s to set up a nurturing place for adults with autism. “How do we ensure these individuals are not burdens to society, but members?” Stobbe said. “How do we create a welcoming community and create opportunities for these individuals to learn and flourish?”

The Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center started with a gift from Charles and Barbara Burnett. Read more on HSNewsBeat about how the center saved one single dad and his autistic son.

Other clinical news:

  • Rare brain surgery in Seattle relieves woman of awful headaches, KING TV, July 13, 2016
    A team of UW Medicine doctors recently completed a rare brain surgery that helped a woman suffering from devastating headaches and potential blindness. The procedure can only be done at a few hospitals in the country. Harborview Medical Center is the only hospital on the West Coast with the capabilities for this surgery.
  • The surprising ties between poverty, gentrification and asthma, Crosscut, July 12, 2016
    There’s a map that simultaneously illustrates Seattle’s rich/poor divide, and shows how quality of life can differ in unexpected and dramatic ways across that divide. Jim Stout, UW professor of pediatrics, is quoted. 
  • Men face greater risk of cardiac arrest, Health, June 30, 2016 
    Men are significantly more likely to have their heart stop suddenly than women are, a new study finds. Michael Sayre, UW professor of emergency medicine who was not involved in the study, is quoted.
  • Drive to get more patients experimental stem cell treatments stirs concern, Stat News, June 30, 2016  
    On both coasts, campaigns are building to get desperate patients faster access to stem cell treatments — in some cases, before they are proven to work. And that is making some scientists nervous. Charles Murry, interim director of the UW Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, is quoted

Dr. Byron Joyner.
Reflections on the first day of residency
First installment by Byron Joyner, UW professor of medicine (urology), and vice dean of Graduate Medical Education:

“Late one night, I was called to the emergency room to see a 19-year old Hispanic man who had been shot in the head at close range while he sat smoking a cigarette in his car. He was brought to the trauma bay by the EMT who had placed an IV in the field, intubated him and began resuscitation. He required chest compressions in the ambulance. After a nearly incomprehensible sign off by the EMT to the chief resident of Trauma Bay 1, the team assumed their positions in an attempt to save this young man’s life. Someone shouted at me to do chest compressions. I had heard about these life-and-death situations as a medical student --  and now, I was in that very situation. What could I possibly do but be in the way?

The resuscitation in the ER continued for an hour -- though it felt like all night. Finally, the attending called the code. As he rushed off to another code, over his shoulder, he barked at me to tell the parents about their son. ‘Me?’ I thought. What was I going to tell the parents? I had never even seen anyone die before, much less tell someone’s parents about the death of their son.

I grabbed my short white coat to cover the blood that spattered on my blue scrub top. The short walk down the hall seemed to be an eternity. I tried to think of what I would say to these parents.

I knocked and very slowly opened the door. There were at least 30 people in the small room. All at once, they stopped talking. Stopped moving. Stopped breathing. I cleared my throat and began in a low but clear voice. ‘I am so sorry. We did all we could but Carlos did not make it.’

Still no talking. No moving. No breathing. I started again. ‘I am sorry.’ Afterwards, a young, perhaps 8-year-old girl came forward out of the crowd and asked simply, ‘Is he dead?’ I leaned down and looked into her blank eyes. ‘Yes.’ I said. ‘He is dead.’ She turned her head and spoke in clear and unemotional Spanish, “Esta muerto.” At that moment, the entire room screamed in anguish, moving and flailing their arms. The mother threw herself on the floor. I backed against the wall, completely helpless and numb.

It was the first day of my surgical internship, 30 years ago.

Not all your experiences in medicine will be this dire. There are those moments that are filled with absolute joy, and what I hope will be the meaningful and amazing moments in medicine that you’ll treasure. These are the moments that will sustain you. I’ve been lucky to work with children who have provided many of those magical moments.

There was a time when I opened the door to a clinic room. A little boy rushed from behind the door, darted past me and jumped into his mother’s lap with big, blue skeptical eyes. He clung close to his mother, almost disappearing behind her when I walked closer to greet him. He bore his head into his mother’s side thinking the maneuver would make him vanish. 

During the meeting, the little boy stared at me curiously. I ignored him, which intrigued him more. As stealth as a cat after its prey, he crept softly from the couch where he and his mother were perched. He kept a hand on his touchstone mother who was absorbed in conversation with me. As we spoke, he was speculative about his approach to me. He took a step forward with his right hand still in connection with his mother’s knee. He glanced at me and released his hand. Now afloat in the room, he reached out to touch my knee. When I recognized him and reached down to shake his hand, he leapt back to safety on the couch.

Several minutes passed and he attempted the same maneuver, this time with more confidence. I ignored him completely. Within a few minutes, he had made his way up my leg and into my lap and sat proudly perched in the strangest paradise waving at his mother. 

These moments make it all worthwhile!”

The Olympic trials of UW pharmacy student Phoebe Wright 

Phoebe Wright has had a dream since 8th grade to become a neuropsychopharmacologist, someone who makes drugs for people with schizophrenia. She is now studying pharmacy at UW. But she’s also had another dream to be an Olympic athlete. She came just three spots short of making the team, finishing sixth in the 800-meter finals, clocking an impressive 2:02. 

While she did not make the Olympic team, her humor has been a hit on Twitter. Read more in Women's Running and in The Seattle Times.

     Dr. Ronald Loge
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WWAMI faculty honored

A number of UW School of Medicine and Graduate Medical Education faculty from throughout the WWAMI region have recently been honored with teaching awards.

  • Ronald Loge, UW clinical professor practicing at Barrett Hospital and Health Care in Dillon, Mont., received the 2016 WWAMI Distinguished Teacher Award. Loge has lived and practiced rural medicine in Dillon for 36 years. Dillon, the county seat of Beaverhead County -- a county the size of New Jersey -- is home to a quarter million cattle and less than 10,000 residents.
  • Madeline Harrington, a dedicated faculty member who has taught residents continuously for over 30 years at Peninsula Children’s Clinic in Port Angeles, Wash., received the Ronald Lemire, M.D. Pediatric Residency Teaching Award.  
  • The late Jon Lyon, a founding member of LaTouche Pediatrics in Anchorage, Alaska, and a leader in pediatric education in Alaska, was posthumously recognized as the first Forrest Bennett, M.D., Pediatric Student Teaching Award winner.

The UW Department of Medicine selected five recipients from more than 260 UW clinical faculty members in the department for teaching excellence. The recognition is based on medical student nominations and committee selection. One student said an award recipient "created a precedent that I (the student) will spend my entire career trying to live up to."

The five honored clinical faculty include:

  • Stephanie Fosback with Palouse Medical in Pullman, Wash.
  • Melissa “Moe” Hagman with Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Idaho.
  • Kari Kale with Billings Clinic in Montana. 
  • Peter Szekely with Broadway Internal Medicine in Missoula, Mont.
  • Robert J. Widrow with Providence Health & Services in Olympia, Wash.

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Christy Gullion

Christy Gullion named chief of staff 

Christy D. Gullion has been named chief of staff for UW Medicine and UW associate vice president for medical affairs, effective Aug. 1, 2016. In her new role, Gullion will be responsible for advancing internal and external relationships, providing leadership and coordination for UW Medicine’s strategic priorities and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of major work products. She will report directly to Paul G. Ramsey, chief executive officer for UW Medicine. 

For the past seven years, Gullion has served as the Washington, D.C.-based director of federal relations for the University of Washington where she worked with members of Congress and the administration to advance UW policy and funding priorities, including those of UW Medicine. She has held senior positions with federal, state and local government elected officials working on public policy issues with a wide variety of external constituencies. She also has budgeting and contract management experience earned while working at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.  

“Christy Gullion’s extensive professional experience in the public sector and strong track record will be a substantial asset for UW Medicine," said Ramsey. "I look forward to working with her.”  Read more in HSNewsBeat and The Puget Sound Business Journal.

Marj Wenrich takes new education leadership role 

Marjorie Wenrich, who has served as chief of staff for Paul Ramsey since 2010, will assume a new leadership role as associate dean for education. 

In the past two years, Ramsey has asked Wenrich to focus on implementation of the new medical school curriculum. As associate dean for education strategies, she will expand her current education work to provide leadership for enhancing the excellence of the full range of UW Medicine's education programs. Some of the important areas for Wenrich's work include the continued development and improvement of the medical school curriculum and related programs, enhancement of the WWAMI program, involvement in the upcoming medical school accreditation process, strategic planning for all aspects of education throughout UW Medicine and other areas. She will continue to report directly to Ramsey. 

More people news:

      UW Medicine nurse practitioner Darrell Owens provides palliative care. (Clare McLean/UW Medicine). 

UW center gets top honors for palliative care

The American Hospital Association recently recognized the UW Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence for its role in caring for people with life-limiting illnesses. The UW program was among three nationwide honored with the association’s Circle of Life Award, which celebrates great strides in palliative and hospice care. The Seattle-based center, launched in 2012, trains teams of UW Medicine nurses, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists and doctors, thereby extending patients’ access to palliative care across clinical programs. In 2014, the center received a $10-million endowment from the Cambia Health Foundation.

Center Director Randall Curtis, UW professor of medicine (pulmonary and critical care) and co director, Anthony Back, UW professor of medicine (oncology), will receive the Circle of Life Award on July 18 at a ceremony in San Diego. Read more on HSNewsBeat.

William J. Bremner blogs on recent awards

In his blog, William J. Bremner, The Robert G. Petersdorf Endowed Chair in Medicine, highlighted “a particularly strong recent group of awards” for faculty and residents. 

Along with the WWAMI teaching excellence awards, the awards included the Turck Award (Karen Stout, professor in cardiology); Beeson Award (Zachary Goldberger, assistant professor in cardiology); Distinguished Teaching Awards (Jamie Shandro, associate professor in emergency medicine; Basak Coruh, (assistant professor in pulmonary and critical care); Stern Teaching Awards (Daniel Cabrera, clinical instructor in general internal medicine, and Tyra Fainstad, acting instructor in general internal medicine); and the Outstanding Teaching Award (Andrew Luks, UW professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine). 

For the full list, including excerpts from the commencement speech by Doug Paauw, UW professor of medicine (general internal medicine) and director of the Medicine Student Programs, see Bremner’s blog. 

Geneticist Stanley Gartler receives national honor

The American Society of Human Genetics named Stanley M. Gartler, UW professor emeritus of medicine and genome sciences, as recipient of the 2016 Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award.

The award recognizes individuals whose professional achievements have fostered and enriched the development of human genetics as well as its assimilation into the broader context of science, medicine and health. Gartler will receive the award, which includes a plaque and $10,000 prize, on Oct. 18, at the organization's annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. Read more on HSNewsBeat.

NW Heart Failure Collaborative, online course (free), 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month 

To enhance treatment of advanced heart failure, the Health Resources and Services Administration funded The Heart Failure Partnership. Brenda Zierler, UW professor in nursing, is leading the $2.1 million project in the region to improve clinical education for advanced practice nursing students, UW trainees and community primary care providers to help them aggressively and safely treat advanced heart failure.

To reach primary care health providers throughout the five-state WWAMI region, an online course was launched May 4, 2016, and occurs bimonthly on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. Community providers are invited to participate in a one-hour online webinar that includes an interactive, 15-minute didactic lecture on a current heart failure topic followed by a case presentation from a community provider (physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, physician assistant or registered nurse) with active discussion and recommendations from an interprofessional heart failure team from UW Medicine's Regional Heart Center. 

The interprofessional panel is led by Todd Dardas (UW acting assistant professor of medicine/cardiology) and includes Kevin O'Brien (UW professor of medicine/cardiology), Claudius Mahr (UW clinical associate professor of medicine/cardiology), Tracy Fowler (registered nurse), Jennifer Beckman (registered nurse), Carrie Boom (registered nurse), Alice Chang (social work), and Greg Gipson (clinical pharmacist). For more information, visit NWHFC.org, or register here

  • UW Medicine presents Sounds of Summer Concert Series, U-Village, July 13-Aug. 24
    See the lineup for free music Wednesdays.

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Sounds of Summer Concert Series. The Maldives.

Other articles that mainly involve UW Health Science faculty staff, students and trainees.

  • A cavity-fighting liquid lets kids avoid dentists' drills, New York Times, July 11, 2016  
    Nobody looks forward to having a cavity drilled and filled by a dentist. Now there's an alternative: an antimicrobial liquid that can be brushed on cavities to stop tooth decay - painlessly. Peter Milgrom, UW professor of dental public health sciences and pediatric dentistry, is quoted.
  • Delayed care faulted in immigrants' deaths at detention centers, New York Times, July 7, 2016
    Deficient medical care contributed to at least seven immigrants' deaths in federal detention, according to a recent report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch. Marc Stern, UW affiliate assistant professor of public health, is quoted.
  • Washington expert says expanded access to heroin treatment not enough to curb epidemic, MyNorthwest , July 7, 2016 
    In the nation's ongoing battle with the growing heroin epidemic, the Obama administration announced a major change to rules on Wednesday that should make it easier for doctors to prescribe medication to treat the addiction. Caleb Banta-Green, from the UW's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, is quoted.
  • 10 minutes of yoga each day could ease menopause symptoms, study suggests, Huffington Post, July 4, 2016
    Stretching for just 10 minutes per day could help ease symptoms of menopause and even depression, a study has found. A 2014 UW study is referenced.
  • Between the ears: Study tests the value of baby talk, Seattle Times, July 5, 2016
    A new study creates a mathematical model of teaching to show how the exaggerated sounds of "parentese" helps babies learn language. Work by Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, is featured.
  • If you would like to offer feedback, please write Bobbi Nodell, the editor of UW Medicine Insight, at bnodell@uw.edu. To subscribe, go to uwmedicine.org/insight.

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