University of Colorado, A Message from the President
October 2013
Dear Friends and Alumni,

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are explorers on a new frontier, one already fostering trailblazing advances in health care. The field of personalized medicine uses innovations in the study of genetics to allow doctors to use an individual's genetic code to predict or prevent disease, reach a more accurate diagnosis or direct more precise treatment.

Dr. David Schwartz, chair of medicine at the CU School of Medicine, described progress in personalized medicine to a rapt audience of CU supporters at a lecture last week.

When you're the patient, all medicine is personal, but the field emerged from the world's largest collaborative biological project. In 2003, scientists around the world completed the Human Genome Project, which established the sequence of human DNA and its function. It took 13 years, cost some $2.7 billion, and opened a world of medical possibilities. Technological advances allow an individual's genome to be sequenced today in a few days for less than $5,000. More important, scientists are connecting the dots between the Human Genome Project and patients.

It's important to note we are still on the threshold of discovery and innovation in personalized medicine. There is much to be done.

Yet CU Anschutz is one of about a dozen university medical centers around the country at the forefront of the field. The benefits of personalized medicine are many, starting with better prediction and prevention of disease. Additionally, a patient's genetic profile can enable an earlier, more exact diagnosis. It allows for better medical decisions based on more accurate information. And it uses targeted therapies to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes, minimizing ineffective treatments and negative side effects.

Dr. Schwartz likens personalized medicine to Google Earth maps in that the search for effective treatment starts at a metaphorical 30,000 feet. Subsequent steps gather and analyze data about a patient's symptoms, biology and environment. The view continually narrows until physicians sift through an array of therapies and determine which will best treat the patient's disease. It also allows doctors and researchers to develop new therapies to address genetic mutations.

The genetic testing at the heart of personalized medicine gives physicians and researchers powerful tools to study the role of genetic factors in some of the most prevalent diseases, from cancer to cardiovascular disease, from diabetes to pulmonary fibrosis. Because information used is as unique as each individual, collecting genetic, clinical and environmental data is a critical - and massive - component of personalized medicine, leading us to expand our data-management capacity. And recognizing the field's importance, the CU School of Medicine is creating a division of personalized medicine.

A sampling of the work of faculty in our School of Medicine employing personalized medicine is impressive. Dr. Frank Accurso pioneered a treatment that targets a genetic defect that causes cystic fibrosis, helping some current patients with the promise of helping many more. Dr. Bryan Haugen developed genetic testing that has spared many patients suspected of having thyroid cancer the trauma of surgery. Dr. Ross Camidge of the CU Cancer Center discovered a drug treatment that makes life better and longer for a subset of lung cancer patients. Dr. Karl Lewis helped demonstrate benefits of a drug treatment for metastatic melanoma (the most dangerous form of skin cancer) where none existed previously.

Dr. Schwartz says the possibilities in personalized medicine are vast and will help broad groups as well as individuals. It can identify patient populations vulnerable to specific diseases, discover genetic causes of existing diseases and help identify the combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause disease.

We aim to be leaders in the field, so CU researchers will continue their explorations on this new frontier. Their scientific advances will help tens of thousands of patients in Colorado and beyond.

For feedback, contact

Bruce D. Benson
Bruce Benson

CU Advocates: Lunch and Learn: CU's Nobel Laureates

Godspeed, Scott Carpenter
Godspeed, Scott Carpenter
Shortly before sending this email, I learned that CU alumnus and U.S. astronaut M. Scott Carpenter died today at age 88. A Colorado native born in Boulder, Carpenter was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, the first Americans in space. He became the second American to orbit Earth on May 24, 1962, and only the fourth U.S. astronaut to travel in space. He was the backup for the Feb. 20, 1962, Friendship 7 mission - which made John Glenn the first American in Earth orbit - and is remembered for his quote from NASA's Cape Canaveral, "Godspeed, John Glenn." He also was the first of 18 CU alumni who became astronauts. Their service spans the entire manned U.S. space program. We'll never forget Scott's role in the history of CU and our nation, and we send our sympathies to his family.

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CU's local and global communities rise to the challenge in wake of flooding
The September floodwaters rose with tragic and devastating effects, taking lives, displacing families and cutting off entire communities. Yet the CU community rose to meet the challenge. Throughout the adversity, I was inspired by - and grateful for - the response of our communities as they reached out to their neighbors to begin the healing and rebuilding processes.
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CU faculty member earns prestigious MacArthur Fellowship
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CU Advocates a force in support of higher education
As the CU Advocates program celebrates its second anniversary, I'd like to extend my gratitude to the more than 2,000 people around the world who have stepped up to be educated and help educate others about the important role the University of Colorado plays in their communities and across the globe.

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CU For Colorado: CU medical students learn from practitioners and give something back in northwest Colorado
The Colorado Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) link the resources of University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus schools and colleges to the state's planning, educational and clinical resources. It's a symbiotic relationship that has benefited University of Colorado students and Colorado communities since 1971.

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A new tradition takes root: Some 2,000 people reveled in the food, music and games that made the Block Party at the Anschutz Medical Campus a success.

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Office of the President, University of Colorado
1800 Grant Street, Suite 800, Denver, CO 80203
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