SOM team sharing grant to improve patient safety

January 11, 2007

JOHN MESSENGER OF UCDHSC cardiology has been named one of 19 recipients sharing a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The grant, which was awarded to projects designed to improve patient safety through simulation research, will be used by Messenger and his team at the CU School of Medicine to improve emergency treatment of heart conditions in Colorado’s rural areas.

The program partners with Medical Simulation Corp. of Denver, to implement simulation as a means of engaging and training rural health care providers to treat heart attacks. Simulation training allows these providers to re-create potential medical scenarios and attempt new procedures to determine best practice outcomes that reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. Because rural health care providers may be required to assume more than one role in the event of an emergency, simulation training is particularly useful to them. Messenger plans to train personnel at eight rural hospitals across northeastern Colorado and to reassess the care of patients at these hospitals following the intervention.

The other members of the School of Medicine team are Jack Westfall, associate dean of rural health; Cathy Jaynes of nursing; Fred Masoudi of the Colorado Health Outcomes Program; and John Rumsfeld, John Carroll and Andrew Klein of cardiology.

LESLIE LEINWAND OF UCB molecular, cellular and developmental biology has been named a recipient of a Marsico Endowed Chair of Excellence at CU for teaching and research activities associated with her studies of genetic heart defects. Leinwand also is a professor of cardiology at the UCDHSC. She will assume her endowed chair this month.

The Marsico Endowed Chairs of Excellence were established in 2002 with a $5 million donation from Tom and Cydney Marsico of Denver to support CU faculty members whose intellectual achievements have received high national and international recognition. Leinwand joins Nobel laureates Eric Cornell of physics and the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Carl Wieman of UCB physics and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who were named Marsico chairs in 2002.

Leinwand directs CU’s Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, founded in 2003 to foster new research, teaching and technology development in the fields of life sciences, physical sciences, math, computational sciences and engineering. In addition, she is a co-founder of Myogen Inc., a CU spinoff company begun in 1999 to research and treat cardiovascular ailments with small molecule therapeutics.

In April 2006, Leinwand was one of only 20 faculty nationwide to be named Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) professors. In May, she also was awarded a $1.9 million grant from HHMI to fund research opportunities for undergraduates and to bring hands-on science education to Colorado K-12 teachers through workshops, courses and outreach programs. She was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2005, and was the recipient of a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute MERIT award in 1993. The 10-year award is given to investigators to support outstanding health and medicine research.

Tom Marsico, who is chairman, CEO and portfolio manager for Denver-based Marsico Capital Management, graduated from CU-Boulder in 1977 and has an M.B.A. from the University of Denver.

ALEXANDER WOLF OF UCB computer science has been elected a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). This year the ACM named 41 of its members as Fellows for their contributions to both the practical and theoretical aspects of computing and information technology and for significant contributions to the mission of ACM. Wolf, who holds a joint appointment with the Imperial College of London, was recognized for his research in distributed system software engineering and his service to the community. The new Fellows will be formally honored at the association’s annual awards banquet, to be held this year on June 9 in San Diego.

PENNY AXELRAD OF UCB aerospace engineering sciences will speak on Jan. 28 at an Amelia Earhart Scholarship Dinner, sponsored by Zonta Foothills Club of Boulder County to finance the Earhart scholarship, which benefits women studying aerospace engineering. The club’s mission is to advance the status of women locally, nationally and internationally. The event will be held at the Runaway Grill at Jefferson County Airport in Broomfield, beginning at 5 p.m. with a silent auction, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and entertainment from “Aminal Planet” doctor and comedian Kevin Fitzgerald. Weather announcer Amelia Earhart, granddaughter of aviator Amelia Earhart, who was a Zontian, also is scheduled to attend. Tickets are $60 per person. For more information, visit

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LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE FACULTY members Austin Allen, Lois Brink, Joern Langhorst and Tony Mazzeo of UCDHSC architecture and planning presented a talk, “The Ninth Ward at the Crossroads of Design and Planning,” with special guest municipal leaders from New Orleans at the 2006 ASLA Colorado Design Conference, held in Vail on Nov. 4. The conference theme was “Redevelopment: Profession, Practice, Community.”

CATHERINE LARKINS OF CU human relations recently earned certification as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR). The certification, awarded by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), signifies that Larkins possesses theoretical knowledge and practical experience in human resource management. To become certified, an applicant must pass a comprehensive examination and demonstrate a strong background of professional HR experience. HRCI is the credentialing body for human resource professionals and is affiliated with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest organization dedicated exclusively to the human resources profession.

CHRISTINE STROUP-BENHAM WAS named the new director of institutional research at the UCDHSC, effective Nov. 1. Stroup-Benham was most recently assistant vice president for institutional analysis at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She also held faculty appointments in the UT departments of preventive medicine and community health and family medicine. Her office is located on the 10th floor of the Lawrence Street Center in downtown Denver.