Dr. Johns

October 2006

See Our Archives


Transforming Health Through Discovery is the theme of Emory Research Appreciation Day, December 6, 2006. The day-long recognition and celebration of the many accomplishments of our researchers will feature displays on the Plaza Level of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building on research conducted throughout the health sciences. There will also be poster presentations from the Georgia Cancer Coalition, the Georgia Research Alliance, and others. The day will also include talks by Dr. Steven Wartman, President of the Association of Academic Health Centers, and Future Makers lecturer Dr. William Brody, President of Johns Hopkins University. Stay tuned for more details as we continue to plan this major event.


New rankings from the NIH place the School of Medicine 19th in NIH award support for the second year in a row. Medical school researchers attracted $190.3 million in NIH grant support in 2005, an increase of 7% over 2004 totals, and this was in the face of flat NIH budgets. The school has climbed an amazing 12 places in the NIH rankings over the past decade.

The medical school had 13 departments in the top 20 in NIH support in 2005. The joint Emory-Georgia Tech Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering was ranked No. 1 nationally in NIH funding, receiving more than double the amount from 2004.

Congratulations to Dean Tom Lawley, to the department chairs, and especially to the researchers whose compelling work drove these impressive rankings.


Conflict of interest issues are a major area of discussion and action at academic health centers across the nation. I have the honor of co-chairing the Blue Ridge Academic Health Group, which consists of leaders of academic health centers plus other experts in health policy and practice. We recently released a report entitled: “Managing Conflict of Interests in AHCs to Assure Healthy Industrial and Societal Relationships.”   The report is available by accessing the Blue Ridge Academic Health Group web site at


The Clifton Road Redevelopment Project continues to move forward in a prescribed manner. We recently selected program managers for the project. As we move forward through the schematic design phase of the project, our focus and emphasis will be on translating Vision 2012 from words into a physical form for health and healing in the 21st century.

Over the next six months, we will engage in extensive scenario testing both programmatically and physically. There are many opportunities we must maximize during this project. An example of such an opportunity is to apply what we have learned from evidence-based healthcare. Another great opportunity is to engage lean process into our planning so that we closely plan for work process and culture enhancements.

Once all of the scenario testing is completed, we will select the design architect who will be charged with developing the design. This phase of the design will last approximately one year. Yes, it is a major project in terms of size, dollars, and time. Equally major is the opportunity to advance Vision 2012:  Transforming Health and Healing.


Kirk Hines ImageLast month, Wesley Woods unveiled a new Legacy Garden donated to its horticultural therapy program by the Southeastern Flower Show. The garden includes thousands of dollars in plants, materials, and labor donated by numerous vendors and benefactors for the benefit of patients at Wesley Woods. The garden contains plants that stimulate the senses, including heirloom plants that older adults with memory impairment would recall from childhood. It expands resources of Wesley Woods’ horticultural therapy program, which was founded in 1993 and includes courtyard and ambulation gardens and a greenhouse where patients can work. Horticultural therapist Kirk Hines is pictured above working with a Wesley Woods resident in the greenhouse.


Larsen and Pearson ImageTransplant surgeons Chris Larsen (left) and Tom Pearson (right) received the Roche Award from the Transplantation Society for excellence in translational science. They were honored during the World Transplant Congress in Boston this past July. Both surgeons specialize in islet, kidney, and pancreatic transplant, and both are working to develop strategies to induce permanent immune tolerance to transplanted organs in humans.


Both Emory University Hospital and Emory Crawford Long have recently implemented medical emergency teams (METs) to help save lives by responding rapidly to patients outside the ICU setting who exhibit warning signs of instability or deterioration. Using defined criteria, bedside nurses can summon an MET for patients who might otherwise progress to cardiac or respiratory arrest. Such teams are part of the Saving 100K Lives Campaign by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in which our hospitals are participating.


The Emory Healthcare web site,, now provides a personal health record where users can input and update immunizations, allergies, medications, procedures they have had, and other health data. The information is secure, and users can also set up a record for their children or aging parents. This site is part of an ongoing effort to make it easier for people to participate in the process of managing their health.


Kripalani Image Health literacy expert Sunil Kripalani (left) in the Division of General Medicine was lead author and co-editor with Ruth Parker, also in General Medicine, of a special August issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine dedicated to health literacy. The issue featured 12 research articles as well as education and policy pieces addressing issues such as whether differences in literacy contribute to disparities in health care and patient mortality. Surgeon General Richard Carmona wrote the forward to the journal issue.
Malebrance Image David Malebranche, also in General Medicine, has been named to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). The council provides recommendations to the President and to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on programs and policies related to AIDS. Malebranche is one of seven new PACHA members and joins 14 members currently on the council.


The first-ever summit of AIMS on BioDesign (American International Medical Summit on Biotherapeutics and Medical Designs), held September 18-20, attracted more than 400 physicians, inventors, lawyers and venture capitalists  from around the world. Key innovations presented at the summit included a catheter-based system to deliver medication into the coronary artery, a new steerable angioplasty guiding wire, a percutaneous system for mitral-valve repair, and a nonsurgical ventricular-assist device, among others.

The intent of the AIMS conference was not only to enlighten and educate, but also to bring together professionals not commonly present in the same setting who do have common goals. Topics covered the cycle of device development from innovation and invention, to the investments delivered. Networking and learning from each other were scientists, industry leaders, biomedical engineers, attorneys and financial experts. The inaugural summit was also a collaboration of Georgia institutions, with Emory serving as the conference host. Other participants included Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, and the Medical College of Georgia.

The AIMS summit demonstrates our commitment to the worldwide advancement of global initiatives in biodesign as it directly applies to patient care. This will be an annual event focusing on innovations in cardiology, cardiac and vascular surgery, interventional radiology and neurovascular therapy, and critical care medicine.


As usual, there are a number of exciting health sciences center events happening across the Emory campus. A few upcoming highlights include:

  • Yerkes National Primate Research Center is hosting the 24th Annual Symposium on Nonhuman Primate Models for AIDS, October 4-7. This is the premier forum for presentation and exchange of the most recent scientific advancements in AIDS research using nonhuman primate models. The keynote speaker is Robin Weiss, professor of viral oncology at University College London, who developed HIV screening tests and identified CD4 as a cell surface receptor to which HIV binds. Earlier this week, Yerkes also hosted Chimpanzees in Biomedical Research, which was geared in part to raising the NIH’s awareness of this topic and addressed subjects ranging from chimpanzees and AIDS viruses to comparative genomics and neuroimaging.
  • A Season of Predictive Health, the second in a series of seminars on this topic, will be held on October 5 at 3:00 p.m. in Cox Hall Ballrooms 1 and 4. Dr. Corey Keyes from the Department of Sociology will discuss Making the Case for Promoting and Protecting Health as ‘Something Positive’: The Science of Human Flourishing.
  • Be sure to mark your calendar for Tuesday, October 10, at 5:00 p.m. when School of Medicine Dean Thomas J. Lawley, MD, will address the topic Professionalism and Conflict of Interest: Heightened Challenges for Academic Medicine at the annual SOM faculty meeting in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building auditorium. A reception will follow on the plaza level. All faculty, students and staff are invited to attend.
  • Join the MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta for The Promise of Stem Cells: Separating the Hype from Reality on October 12 as it takes a scientific look at embryonic stem cell research and examines its influence on commercial applications in such industries as pharmacology, transgenics, biomedicine and cloning. Presenters include Dr. Steven L. Stice, director of UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center; Mr. David A. Dodd, former president, chief executive officer and director, Serologicals Corporation; and Dr. Michelle C. LaPlaca, associate professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology.  For more information and to register, visit


Can there ever be an over-emphasis on quality? I emphatically answer “No.” When your organization’s product is improving health (like ours is), there simply must be a total and all-encompassing commitment to quality and safety.

I recently saw a couple purchasing an identification tag for their dog’s collar. It was one of those self-service kiosks in which the purchaser typed the information that was to be printed on the small metal tag. While one person typed, the other person would proofread each and every letter and numeral for the dog’s name, address, and phone number.  When the typing was completed, they each carefully re-read every single character on the tag. Only after they were 100% certain that all information was correct did they press the “FINISHED” button on the machine so that the tag could be printed. Why did they do this? This dog identification tag might very well be the difference in their dog being returned to them should he/she ever become lost. So, it simply had to be perfect. No question about it, and no compromise in quality allowed.

That is one small but important example of when quality matters so very much. To ensure quality, teamwork and attention to detail are essential. It is the same in what we strive for each work day, from our classrooms to our research labs to our 24/7 patient care operations in Emory Healthcare. Each of you can be a major component of how successful we are in our quality efforts by looking over someone’s shoulder as a second set of eyes and questioning anytime you believe quality and safety have been compromised. We depend on all of our WHSC employees to take leadership roles in quality and safety.

Thank you very much for what you do each day, all day, every day to ensure highest quality and safety in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center.


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