One of our most important
but often overlooked assets is the research program at the Atlanta Veterans
Affairs (VA) Medical Center. Did you know that the program is near the
top 10 VA research programs in the United States? According to Dr.
Robert Pollet (Endocrinology), who manages research at the
VA, the program has grown considerably in the past two years, with a
budget exceeding $26 million in direct costs per year funded by the
Department of Veterans Affairs, NIH, CDC, and other sources. Its 120
principal investigators (mainly SOM physician-scientists) and more than
500 research associates and staff currently conduct 400 projects, including
biomedical research, clinical studies, and health services and outcomes
research. The VA has a 60,000-square-foot facility to support multidisciplinary
programs and plans to construct a $10 million, 60,000-square-foot research
building with additional lab space. Over the past two years, the VA
- Recruited two additional VA Senior Research Career Scientists,
Drs. Stuart Zola (Psychiatry and Yerkes) and Philip
- Received renewal on a five-year core grant of $750,000 annually
for the VA Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Ronald Schuchard
(Ophthalmology) directs the center, one of only 12 VA rehab centers
in the nation devoted to low vision in the elderly.
- Established a research and development oncology program in collaboration
with the SOM and the Rollins School of Public Health. Led by Drs.
Amy Chen (Otolaryngology) and Theresa Gillespie
(Winship Cancer Institute), the program receives $300,000 annually
in local VA support and has been invited to apply for a VA Targeted
Research Enhancement Program annual award of $150,000 in core support
for three years.
- Opened the Outpatient Clinical Studies Center with Dr. Kenneth
Leeper (Pulmonology/Critical Care) as Director. The center
houses dedicated waiting rooms, exam and interview rooms, a phlebotomy
and specimen room, and administrative space for 10 clinical study
- Established a shared VA/Emory core facility offering microarray
gene expression analysis and laser capture microscopy.
Grady Hospital's new
President and CEO, Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, has his work
cut out for him. One out of every four doctors in Georgia has trained
at Grady�including our own residents and students. But Grady's size
and importance do not buffer it from the heavy seas that threaten to
swamp large public hospitals across the country.
problems aren't only due to political squabbles over regional dollars,
but to shrinking federal Medicaid reimbursements for the poor, to Clinton�era
cuts in funds historically dedicated to doctor training at teaching
hospitals, and to the cold shoulder from the state legislature," says
a June 30th Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial.
is taking a three-pronged approach to Grady's problems. He is aggressively
attacking its image problems; working with Grady staff and Emory and
Morehouse faculty to craft a strategic plan involving cost savings,
revenue-cycle enhancement and revenue-generating initiatives; and taking
a longer view of Grady's mission. Among his cost-saving initiatives
is a plan to reduce spending involving temporary staffing agencies.
In the short term, Dr. Agwunobi is looking to improve cash flow through
initiatives such as refinancing Grady's bonds.
people front, he has ousted several top administrators and is putting
together a high-caliber team to assist him. He recently hired Teresa
Finch of Atlanta Medical Center as CFO and just announced the
appointment of Mr. John Henry Sr. as COO. (Mr. Henry
retired as CEO of Emory Hospitals and Wesley Woods Center in August).
He also hired Kirk Wilks as the new VP of Public Affairs,
who has served in the same position at St. Joseph's Health System.
vision of Grady's future looks beyond the ills of the moment and is
one in which we all can join in wishing him�and ourselves�well. "Simply
put," he says, "we want to become the model public health care institution
in terms of financial management, health care operations, and clinical
Grady, Dr. Agwunobi was CEO of South Fulton Medical Center, which was
on the verge of bankruptcy until he turned it around in less than two
years. A native of Scotland, he holds a medical degree from the University
of Jos in Nigeria, completed his pediatrics residency at Howard University,
and has an MBA from Stanford.
Our M1 class of 114 is
the first-ever medical class to have more women (59) than men (55).
We are fortunate to have another bright crop of students, whose average
cumulative grade point score is 3.75 and average MCAT score is 33. About
a third of our students are Georgians (37), with most having received
undergraduate degrees at Emory (14), the University of Georgia (7),
and Georgia Tech (6). Five of our students already have graduate degrees.
A warm welcome to the Class of 2007!
The SOM's 2003�2008 research
strategic plan has taken shape, thanks to the exceptional work of more
than 100 faculty led by Drs. Robert Rich, Executive
Associate Dean for Research and Strategic Initiatives, Raymond
Dingledine, Chairman of Pharmacology, and Wright Caughman,
Chairman of Dermatology. According to Dr. Rich, "Our last five-year
plan was exceptionally ambitious, yet we still achieved our goals. The
2003�2008 plan will be similarly demanding, perhaps even more so. It
will further propel Emory into a position of research excellence and
leadership among the nation's medical schools." The plan sets three
major goals to accomplish through the following initiatives:
Watch for the SOM to begin implementing these exciting new initiatives
in the coming weeks.
- Better align the research mission with our teaching and service
missions. This involves integrating the research, education,
and clinical missions of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and the
university with the shared goals of the SOM's strategic plan and those
of the WHSC and other university components.
- Augment and stabilize our research workforce. Efforts
include enhancing research infrastructure and support for current
faculty and recruiting additional NIH-funded investigators, increasing
the amount of NIH funding per investigator, adding new PhD and MD/PhD
students and postdoctoral fellows, boosting the level of support provided
to investigators in clinical departments, maintaining our culture
of collegiality, and encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration across
- Enhance translational research so that discoveries result in
improved health care. Steps include developing new research facilities,
creating centers of excellence in biomedicine and health care to attract
additional NIH collaborative grants, and investing in additional technologies,
core laboratory programs, and infrastructure support services.
Every year, I like to recognize
a handful of basic science and medical faculty who are among our most
successful educators and exemplify excellence in teaching undergraduate
medical and allied health students. First, I'd like to congratulate Dr.
Juha Kokko (Medicine), who received a career award (and a beautiful
Frab�l sculpture) for his lifetime achievements at the SOM. "He is one
of our most outstanding teachers, both in the classroom and at the bedside,"
says Dr. Jonas Shulman, Executive Associate Dean for
Medical Education and Student Affairs. "He brings the basic sciences alive
in the clinical setting." Dr. Kokko was recognized at a special ceremony
held recently at the Miller-Ward Alumni House.
received the 2003 Dean's Teaching Awards at the ceremony. They are
Dr. Henry Blumberg (Medicine), Dr. Karen Drexler
(Psychiatry), Dr. Jane Gilmore (Neurology), Dr.
Kate Heilpern (Emergency Medicine), Dr. Eric Honig
(Medicine), Ms. Kathy Kinlaw (Ethics), Dr. Kenneth
Minneman (Pharmacology), Dr. Bryan Noe (Cell
Biology), Dr. Shanthi Sitaraman (Medicine), and Dr.
Kirk Ziegler (Microbiology). Dr. Linton Hopkins
(Neurology) received the first-ever Edward Underwood Award for teaching
excellence, named for a 1976 SOM alumnus who made a gift in support of
teaching. The honorees received $4,500 each.
I also like
to provide educators and their associates with grants to develop specific
medical education projects, based on their creative ideas for teaching
students. Four team leaders received Teaching Innovation Awards. They
are Drs. Erica Brownfield (Medicine), Sheryl
Heron (Emergency Medicine), Denise Lawe (Emergency
Medicine), and Jeffrey Salomone (Surgery). These faculty
members and their respective colleagues received grants of varying amounts.
Assistant Deans Ira Schwartz and Alan Otsuki
and Dr. David Rimland (Medicine), who coordinated the
nomination and selection process for these awards. All of these outstanding
educators deserve a pat on the back!
We deeply mourn the passing of a dear
friend to the SOM. Dr. Mort Silberman died August 4 after
a long struggle with chronic pulmonary disease. He held a variety of positions
during his 25 years at Emory. He came here in 1976 as Associate Professor
of Pathology and University Veterinarian in charge of care and housing
for animals used in teaching and research programs. He later became the
first Director of Government Relations for the Woodruff Health Sciences
Center and served as the center's Assistant Director. He was believed
to be the only veterinarian in the country to serve in such a high-level
office at a major academic health sciences center. Dr. Silberman was very
active at Zoo Atlanta, which named its diagnostic center after him, and
was a pioneer in the treatment of rare, endangered, and exotic animals.
We will truly miss this extraordinary man.
Thomas J. Lawley, MD