University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus leaders Richard Krugman, MD, and Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, were honored for lifetime achievement and innovation in health care, respectively, at the Denver Post Strength in Health awards held at The Denver Post on Wednesday evening.
The inaugural event recognized the top health care professionals and organizations that contribute to the health and wellness of Coloradans. Nearly 300 health care professionals, including 64 from CU Anschutz, were nominated in eight categories by their patients, colleagues and peers. Three health care professionals representing CU Anschutz, including York Miller, MD, professor of medicine, in the physicians excellence category, were among the finalists.
An independent panel of judges made up of senior leadership from local hospitals and health organizations selected a winner in each category—physicians excellence, administrative excellence, dental excellence, nurse’s excellence, health care professional, innovation, community outreach and lifetime achievement. David Goff, MD, PhD, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, and Lonnie Johnson, DDS, PhD, professor and associate dean of clinical operations and patient services, CU School of Dental Medicine, served on the nine-member judges panel, and CU Anschutz was presenting sponsor of the innovation award.
Addressing the full auditorium, Mac Tully, publisher and CEO of The Denver Post, said, “You’re the people and organizations that truly make a difference in the heart of our community.”
In the innovation category, Theodorescu was honored for his exemplary work in cancer research, particularly his stature as a world leader in translational bladder cancer research. “His innovative work has the potential to revolutionize cancer care worldwide and in the process save millions of lives,” said Molly Hughes, event emcee and director of DPTV (Denver Post TV).
Theodorescu thanked his wife, Diane, for being his “biggest fan” for 25 years, as well as his bosses (Krugman, Don Elliman, chancellor of CU Anschutz, and Lilly Marks, CU Anschutz vice president for health affairs) and his team at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, where he serves as director. “They make my job incredibly easy and incredibly fun,” he said. He said he’s been fortunate to have had “wonderful mentors” during his career.
“I’m humbled to receive this,” he added. “This is sort of the realization of a dream I’ve had since I was 10 years old—doing cancer research.”
Bill Wright, MD, executive medical director and president of Colorado Permanente Group, introduced Krugman as the lifetime achievement award winner. Wright said Krugman, as dean of the CU School of Medicine for almost 25 years, manages an enterprise with a $1.1 billion budget and more than 3,000 faculty members and five affiliated health care providers. “It could be that his calling to help the smallest and most vulnerable among us in the field of child abuse and neglect, a calling he will return to following his retirement as dean, truly places him among Colorado and the nation’s health care elite,” Wright said.
Krugman thanked many people who have provided support and guidance during his long career, starting with his wife, Mary. Krugman is the longest-serving dean of a medical school in nation. He recounted some of his work at CU prior to becoming medical school dean in 1992, including his leadership of the child health associate program and the Area Health Education Center program. “A wonderful individual is coming to be my successor (as dean), and I can go back to doing the child abuse work that I was starting in 1990,” Krugman said.
As presenter of the innovation award category, Elliman spoke briefly about CU Anschutz’s immense contributions to innovation and research—two of the campus’s core missions. “We had about $430 million in sponsor research on our campus last year, and it really is at the core of who we are,” Elliman said. “Our job is not only to deliver the best care in the world that we can, but also to have a huge role in helping to define what the care of the future should look like.”
Organizers said the Strength in Health awards, extremely successful in its inaugural year, will likely become an annual event.