Dr. Johns

March 2006

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For years, many of you have been receiving Momentum Update as e-mail subscribers. I am delighted to announce its expansion to a monthly communication to all faculty and staff of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. With so many great accomplishments occurring across the WHSC, this is an ideal time to establish a regular communication to keep you up-to-date on news, events, and our plans to continue the impressive Momentum that you have established.


It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Ron Sauder on his appointment as Emory's Vice President for Communications. For the past several years, as the Associate Vice President and Executive Director of Communications for the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, Ron and his staff have produced consistent, high-quality communications for the WHSC. His personal commitment to Emory, along with his track record as a leader, makes him the ideal candidate to lead the University's communications office in its next step forward. Ron will have responsibility for communications on both sides of campus until a successor is recruited. I want to assure you of my personal commitment to communications, and of my intention to build on the successes of the past several years to take Emory to an even higher level of professional achievement in this important respect. This is an auspicious time for the WHSC and I am confident we will be able to quickly recruit world-class talent in health sciences communications.


For those of you who missed Steven Lipstein, President and CEO of BJC Healthcare, speak on the topic of Pay for Performance on February 23, the link to his lecture can be found on the following Web page: This was an excellent, well-attended lecture on a relevant and current topic.


Ken Thorpe, PhD, of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Rollins School of Public Health, will be the first speaker in a new quarterly campus-wide seminar series, A Season of Predictive Health. As the inaugural speaker of this series, he will discuss the policy implications of, and possible solutions for, implementation of Predictive Health as a model system. This first seminar will be on March 30 from 3:00 - 4:30 pm in the Cox Hall Ballroom.

It is anticipated that Dr. Thorpe's seminar will set the tone for subsequent discussions encompassing a variety of opinions from across campus and among the schools, departments and disciplines that are integral to Predictive Health. A tentative schedule of upcoming topics in the series includes Behaviors, Ethics, Education, and Political Forces.


Spring's warmth is fast approaching and so is an opportunity for our community to come together to promote health and wellness and support the tireless efforts of those at the Emory Vaccine Center who strive to effect worldwide health by developing vaccines for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is May 18, 2006, and in the spirit of this day, the volunteer group Action Cycling Atlanta has organized a fundraising event to benefit the Emory Vaccine Center for the weekend of May 20-21.

The Action Cycling 200 is a two-day, 200 mile bike ride beginning at the Emory Vaccine Center's Hope Clinic in downtown Decatur, traveling a scenic route to Athens and concluding the following day back at the Hope Clinic. The ride benefits the Emory Vaccine Center's HIV/AIDS vaccine research program and is in its fourth year. Thus far, the event has raised over $130,000 for HIV/AIDS research. I encourage all of us to support Team Emory either as cyclists, volunteers, or supporters of the ride. To register or to make a pledge in support of one of your biking comrades, please visit:

Action Cycling Atlanta's support is critical to the Emory Vaccine Center, as it provides invaluable unrestricted funding that catalyzes their programs, making pilot projects to test innovative new ideas possible and keeping Emory at the forefront of HIV/AIDS research and vaccine development. Emory is a community that consistently comes together for the greater good, and I thank you for continuing that tradition by working toward a global end to HIV and AIDS.


Fulfilling the Promise is an effort undertaken by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in order to highlight the advancements made through NIH-funded research at our nation's medical schools and teaching hospitals. The goal of the campaign is to maintain and build support for NIH-funded academic medical research. The campaign involves a series of periodic briefings on Capitol Hill for members of Congress in order to stress the importance of NIH-funded academic medical research. The briefings center on a specific medical issue and raise awareness of the NIH-funded academic research related to the topic and the various innovations and discoveries that have resulted. The most recent topic was infectious disease. Through cooperation from the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Communications Office, the Office of Research Administration, faculty, researchers and staff, we submitted numerous examples of NIH-funded innovations and discoveries related to infectious disease that occurred at Emory. We plan to continue our participation in Fulfilling the Promise with each new topic.

In related news, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, MD, has launched a campaign to educate the public and Congress on the value of investing in medical research, according to a recent lead story from Research Policy Alert. With descriptive facts and figures, Dr. Zerhouni illustrates the value of the NIH investment over the past 34 years. Here are just a few statements that Dr. Zerhouni included:
  • The life expectancy of Americans has increased 6.7 years largely due to discoveries fostered by the NIH.
  • An investment of less than $300 per American for cancer research over the 34-year period has resulted in survival rates for cancer victims that went from six months to five years.
  • An investment of less than $110 per American for heart disease, lung disease, blood disease and stroke over the 34-year period has resulted in a 60% reduction in mortality.


People tend to be best at that which they are most passionate. Pursue your passion and be an example – a leader – for others.


In the April edition of Momentum Update, I'll share the latest on our Capital Campaign efforts, facilities planning, and other topics. Once again, thank you for all that you do to enable the Woodruff Health Sciences Center to pursue its core mission: Making People Healthy.


Michael M.E. Johns, MD
CEO, Woodruff Health Sciences Center