Dr. Johns

August 2006

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Topping Off imageAfter months of watching the new School of Medicine education building rise steadily out of the ground since construction began about 14 months ago, it was my pleasure last Thursday to ascend the sawdust covered staircase to the building’s third floor and join Dean Lawley and others in celebrating the “topping out” of this structure, which is slated to be ready for occupancy in May of 2007. Whiting-Turner Contracting Company hosted a barbecue lunch, which was attended by more than 300 construction workers, along with representatives from the building’s architect, S-L-A-M Collaborative, people from our own Campus Services, and those who will occupy the building once it opens. As Dean Lawley and I pointed out in our remarks—which were translated into Spanish by Orlando Reyes, one of Emory Healthcare’s patient service ambassadors—this building will help us change the way medicine is taught and practiced, with new emphasis on predictive and personalized care that will transform health and healing.


Perdue visit photoPresident Wagner and I had the opportunity to meet with Governor Sonny Perdue in late July and share with him the vision and strategic plan of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center.  

While at Emory, the Governor took a tour of some Emory Healthcare facilities. I appreciate the assistance of Bob Bachman, Bill Bornstein, and Bruce Ribner in providing the Governor an interesting visit inside Emory University Hospital, including some health care collaboration facilities we maintain in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control.

The Governor also spoke that same evening at the Emory Crawford Long Hospital Quarterly Medical Staff Meeting.  The Governor provided an excellent report on health care issues in Georgia.

We are thankful for the excellent partnership that Emory University enjoys with the State of Georgia.  And, we appreciate that Georgia is a great place to live and to do business!  


Cummings PhotoThe School of Medicine has named Richard D. Cummings, PhD, a nationally recognized expert in the emerging research field of 'glycomics,' as the new chair of Biochemistry.  Dr. Cummings comes from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, where he was director and founder of the Oklahoma Center for Medical Glycobiology. The NIH has identified glycomics—the identification and study of all the carbohydrate molecules produced by an organism—as a major new research focus, and Dr. Cummings has played a key role in the multi-institutional Consortium for Functional Glycomics funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Dr. Cummings' research focuses on glycoconjugates, the carbohydrate molecules and their associated proteins that permit cells to communicate with and adhere to each other.  His research emphasizes the role of glycoconjugates in cardiovascular biology, autoimmune diseases, and parasitology.  He has collaborative partnerships with more than a dozen laboratories.

I know that Dean Lawley joins me in welcoming Dr. Cummings as a leader in this exciting new research field, and in thanking Dean Danner, who served as interim chair of Biochemistry.


Sue Grant PhotoSusan Grant, RN, MS, CNAA-BC, a certified nurse administrator advanced, joins Emory later this month as the new chief nursing officer (CNO) for Emory Healthcare. Ms. Grant comes to Emory from the University of Washington Medical Center, where she served as senior associate administrator for patient care services and CNO. Her role there included inpatient operations of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Her 20+ year career in nursing and nursing administration includes progressively responsible positions at Kershaw County Hospital in Camden, South Carolina; the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston; and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where she was chief of nursing and patient care services. She has deep experience in long-term rehab care, cancer/oncology, and coronary care. She is currently a Robert Wood Johnson executive nurse fellow at the University of California, San Francisco Center for the Health Professions, and was previously a Johnson & Johnson executive fellow with the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Alice Vautier who retired last month as CNO of Emory Hospitals, a position she held since 1995. Alice has made an indelible impact here through her sustained efforts to fight nursing shortages and attract and retain talented nurses for our hospitals.


As you may have read in last Saturday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $4.5 million to Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Scholar, and Bali Pulendran, PhD, a researcher in the Emory Vaccine Center and at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. This grant is part of a $30.1 million grant to a national consortium that will focus on vaccine adjuvants—substances frequently added to vaccines to increase their potency. The project includes scientists from academia, biotechnology, and industry.

The investigators will use laboratory and animal studies to explore the molecular pathways by which adjuvants enhance cellular immune responses, and they will evaluate novel adjuvants in clinical trials to determine the best ways to use them in combination with HIV vaccines. 

This award recognizes Emory’s growing role in global health initiatives, which by definition derive their greatest potential for impact from large-scale collaborations.


Sue Donaldson
Hepburn photo
Kenneth Hepburn
Marla Salmon, dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, has made two new strategic appointments: Sue Donaldson, PhD, RN, FAAN, as Distinguished Professor of Nursing and Interdisciplinary Science, with a joint appointment in physiology in the medical school, and Kenneth Hepburn, PhD, as the school’s first Associate Dean for Research.

Like Dean Salmon, Dr. Donaldson is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. She comes to Emory from Johns Hopkins, where she also had joint appointments in nursing and medicine and where she served as dean of the nursing school from 1994 to 2001. Dr. Donaldson will help enhance training and research opportunities for nurses in the basic sciences and promote interdisciplinary research between nursing and medicine. She currently serves as the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) representative to the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics and as a member of the AAN Expert Panel on Genetics. 

In his role as associate dean for research, Dr. Hepburn will recruit new faculty members, as well as develop current research faculty. He will also work with the school’s Center for Research on Symptoms, Symptom Interactions and Health Outcomes, one of nine exploratory nursing research centers funded by the National Institute for Nursing Research. Dr. Hepburn held a similar role at University of Minnesota, where was also co-director of the university’s Center on Aging. His principal research interest concerns development of programs aimed at improving quality of life of persons with dementia by enhancing skills and knowledge of their family and professional care-givers.


Yerkes Building PhotoThe Yerkes National Primate Research Center will host the 24th Annual Symposium on Nonhuman Primate Models for AIDS on October 4 - 7 at the Omni Hotel in the CNN Center. All scientists interested in HIV/AIDS and related research are invited to participate and can expect to learn the latest findings in primate virology, immunology, pathogenesis, vaccines, and therapeutics/genetics. Registration subsidies are available. For more information, visit Funding for this symposium is made possible in part by a grant from the NIH’s National Center for Research Resources.


Last week, the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Board, the Emory Healthcare Board, and the Emory University Finance Committee all approved the FY07 Emory Healthcare Annual Operating Plan. The FY07 Emory Healthcare budget is approximately $1.5 billion.  That equates to about $30 million each and every week of the year.  Not only is that an enormous amount of money, it is also a budget that has a number of potential impacts from national policy decisions, environmental issues, and a host of other factors.  To say there is considerable risk and uncertainty would be a major understatement.  

That being said, we are very fortunate to have an excellent financial leadership team within Emory Healthcare.  And it is truly a team effort that involves scores of professionals who monitor funds, produce reports, and make decisions that ensure our financial viability.

Thank you to all who work in the various financial offices within Emory Healthcare.


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