Momentum Update
October 25, 2007
    Accelerating our momentum  
In This Issue

The past three weeks at Emory have been truly exhilarating for me, as I have learned so much from so many about the great things happening here. For example, the dedication of a new medical school building last week speaks volumes about the dreams and dedication of our leadership team. They have worked successfully to build not just a beautiful facility but also a new curriculum and a new home where students and faculty together can create a new model for teaching and learning. Congratulations to Dean Tom Lawley and the School of Medicine faculty, administrators, students, and staff who have made this happen.
Every day, I am privileged to see other examples of the great work being done throughout the health sciences by our faculty, administrators, staff, and students. The momentum here is truly remarkable and a testament to the vision and leadership of Mike Johns over the past 11 years. My first priority is to work with you to accelerate this momentum so we can bring our shared vision of transforming health and healing to reality.
Just how we are going to accelerate momentum and realize this vision was a primary focus of a retreat I shared with a number of leaders during my first weekend here. This retreat was a time for us to assess the current state of affairs within the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, to put issues on the table, get a sense of alignment with one another, and focus on how to refine the vision. I came away convinced that we can and will achieve important and transformational goals. To a large extent, this is because we have a collegiality here that is a differentiating strength, especially in leveraging the incredible internal and external partnerships we are fortunate to have. Nurturing and capitalizing on these strengths is vital to reach our vision.
This retreat and quite a few other meetings (more than I can remember!) have given me a chance to meet many but only a small percentage of the 16,000+ people who make up the WHSC. I look forward in coming weeks and months to meeting more of you at our various academic, Emory Healthcare, and affiliate locations, including Emory Crawford Long Hospital, Wesley Woods, and Grady Hospital. I also look forward in coming weeks to meeting our students in medicine, public health, nursing, and the graduate school through a series of regularly scheduled forums. I know that regular dialogue with our next generation of leaders in health sciences will provide both insight and inspiration.
The news items that follow demonstrate just a few examples of how individuals and teams are accelerating momentum in so many meaningful ways. I look forward to serving with each of you to help transform health and healing in the 21st century.


Research funding continues to grow

The figures are in for fiscal year 2006-2007, and research totals in the WHSC have reached a new high, $358.7 million, including increases of 45% and 7% over last year for the schools of public health and medicine, respectively. The total represents 93% of the entire Emory University total of $383.9 million, the most research funding received by any university in Georgia. For a complete list of all major grants received in the WHSC in the past year, read the release online.

What's more—we already have a good running head start on the current fiscal year. The following are examples of grants received just since September 1:


David Stephens, MD
    Atlanta clinical and translational research partnership

The NIH awarded $31 million over five years (one of the largest NIH grants in Georgia history) to Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Tech, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to support the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI), created to speed up development of new treatments for patients. The award is part of a new consortium launched last year as part of the NIH's own roadmap for research. Other partners in the ACTSI include the Georgia Research Alliance, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the Atlanta VA Medical Center, Georgia Bio, and Grady Hospital and Health System. David Stephens, MD, who was recently named as Special Assistant for Research to the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, is principal investigator of the ACTSI grant. Full story online.


Barbara Stoll, MD
    Landmark child health study

Emory received $25.5 million to participate in the multi-year National Children's Study (NCS), the largest study of child and human development ever conducted in the United States. Emory's schools of medicine and public health will partner with Morehouse School of Medicine and Battelle Memorial Institute, a private, not-for-profit applied science and technology development company, to manage local participant recruitment and data collection. The study will follow a representative sample of 100,000 children from birth to age 21, gathering information to prevent and treat disorders such as autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The NCS will be conducted in 105 study locations across the country, including Georgia's DeKalb and Fulton counties, which together are representative of the entire U.S. population. Pediatrics chair Barbara Stoll, MD, is principal investigator of the NCS grant. Full story online.


Richard Compans, PhD
    Flu vaccine in painless skin patches under development

Emory and Georgia Tech received $11.5 million from the NIH over five years to develop and assess the effectiveness of transdermal patches with vaccine-coated microneedles to deliver flu vaccines. Advantages of such patches over hypodermic needles include less discomfort to recipients, lower cost, and reduced production time. Beyond flu, the research could have implications for immunization programs in developing countries, where eliminating use of hypodermic needles could make vaccines more widely available and address the problem of disease transmission caused by re-use of needles. Richard Compans, PhD (microbiology and immunology), is principal investigator of the Emory portion of the new funding. Full story online.

    Emory Healthcare provides record support to research and teaching

When Emory Healthcare reaches or exceeds its financial income goals, many in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center share in the benefit. In fiscal year 2007, Emory Healthcare exceeded its budgeted net operating margin by $14.7 million, as a result of efficiencies and great efforts by our health care teams. About three-fourths of net operating income is transferred to the medical school and its clinical departments to support research and teaching. Funds remaining after these contributions have been made are reinvested by Emory Healthcare in capital improvements, including efforts under way to bring benefits of research to the bedside sooner.


Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD
    Ressler named Howard Hughes Investigator

Congratulations to Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, who has been named one of 15 new Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators. For this new group of investigators, HHMI sought physician-scientists whose work crosses the boundaries between the laboratory and the bedside. Dr. Ressler has joint appointments in psychiatry and Yerkes National Primate Research Center. His research focuses on biological mechanisms that cause fear. Together with other Emory colleagues, he has developed a treatment for anxiety-related disorders with a drug originally used for TB, in combination with exposure-based psychotherapy. Results from the first clinical trials were so encouraging that more than 10 additional trials are under way. The trials will include war veterans and inner-city Atlantans traumatized by violence. Full story online.

      Hospitals receive honors for service and community involvement

Emory Crawford Long Hospital (ECLH) received a national award (one of five given throughout the country) from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for its participation in Project Search, a program to train and hire high school graduates and adults with developmental disabilities and integrate them into the hospital work place. Since the program began in 2004, 33 people trained through ECLH have been hired by ECLH, Emory University Hospital (EUH), or Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. EUH has since started such a program as well. Full story online.

ECLH also has been named a 2006 Thomson 100 Top Hospitals Performance Improvement Leader by Thomson Healthcare, which provides health care information and decision-support data on clinical and business performance improvement. ECLH was among 2,800 hospitals studied and rated on factors such as patient mortality, medical complication, patient safety, length of stay, profitability, cash-to-debt ratio, and growth in patient volume. Full story online.

For the 10th year in a row, EUH received the Consumer's Choice Award, as voted by members of the Atlanta community. Given by the National Research Corporation, the award identifies hospitals in 190 markets throughout the country that consumers have ranked as having the highest quality and image. Full story online.

EUH also received a 2007 Client Choice Award from the United Resource Network (URN) for its transplant services. This award is given annually to a URN transplant center of excellence after URN surveys 4,000 of its network clients on issues such as communication and administration. Full story online.

    It is worth a shot

In closing, I want to express my sincere hope that you have made plans to get your flu shot this season. Emory University is offering flu vaccines at various times and locations, including the Grady, Yerkes, and Briarcliff campuses. (See the Faculty Staff Assistance web site for details.) In addition, Emory Healthcare is offering flu shots in 10 locations (listed at Getting immunized is important—to protect you, your co-workers, your loved ones—and for those of you in the clinical setting—your patients. I urge you to check your calendars now and make plans to get vaccinated. All vaccines are free to employees with appropriate ID.