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December 17, 2002


Emory Medicine, Children's Healthcare Enhance Collaboration

ATLANTA -- Emory University School of Medicine and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta are taking major steps ­- moving forward on a new Emory pediatrics building and creation of a new joint leadership structure -- to further enhance the institutions’ 46-year partnership and shared mission. The steps also are intended to strengthen the three-way collaboration between Emory, Children’s, and the community physicians who are part of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, December 11, the Woodruff Health Sciences Board ­- those trustees responsible for Emory University’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center ­- gave the School of Medicine the go-ahead to begin design of a new $40 million pediatric building to be located on Ridgewood Drive, behind Children’s at Egleston and across from the Emory pediatric clinics. The Trustees will review plans at their next meeting in March. With much of the funding in place or committed, and a strategic fundraising plan in place to complete funding, Emory is moving aggressively to have the building completed and occupied by July 2004.

A new floor of clinical space will make room for an improvement project planned for Children’s at Egleston. It also will help support targeted program growth and improve care and access to cutting edge clinical research programs for patients referred by community physicians. Four new floors of research space will expand the search for new treatments ­ and the reputation of the Emory/Children’s partnership. The building also will allow Emory pediatric faculty to move out of the temporary buildings behind Children’s at Egleston, housing all Emory pediatricians practicing at Children’s at Egleston in the same space for the first time in decades.

The second step, effective next July, involves the creation of a new joint leadership position, combining the Chair of Pediatrics position in Emory School of Medicine with the position of Medical Director at Children’s at Egleston. The new position also encompasses two other pediatric leadership positions at Emory: President and CEO of Emory Children’s Center, the pediatric faculty practice of the School of Medicine, and President of the Emory Egleston Children’s Research Center. The new combined chair/medical director position will report jointly to Dr. Thomas Lawley, Dean of the Emory School of Medicine, and to Dr. Jay Berkelhamer, Children’s Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs. Recruitment will be done jointly by both institutions.

Dr. J. Devn Cornish, Chair (or, earlier Acting Chair) of the Department of Pediatrics since December 1994 has declined to be a candidate for the new position. He will step down as Chairman, President and CEO of the Emory Children’s Center, and President of the Emory Egleston Children’s Research Center, effective July 1. Dr. Cornish plans to begin a one-year sabbatical to complete a Masters of Public Health in international child health at the Rollins School of Public Health before returning to the Emory School of Medicine as professor of pediatrics (neonatology) and pursuing his long-standing interest in health improvement for children in underdeveloped countries.

No changes in the medical leaders at Children’s at Egleston or Children’s at Scottish Rite are expected. At Children’s at Egleston, Corrine Taylor, MD, will remain as Director of Medical Affairs, reporting to the new medical director. At Children’s at Scottish Rite, Dr. David Hall, currently Director of Medical Affairs at Scottish Rite, will become Medical Director to reflect the parallel leadership functions at the two CHOA hospitals. He will report directly to Dr. Berkelhamer.

The objective of the new position, say Dean Lawley and Dr. Berkelhamer, is to establish a single leader with authority and responsibility in both institutions, to help Emory and Children’s better align their work and resources, such as teaching programs, clinical research, facilities and high tech equipment. The new medical director/chair of pediatrics also will be charged with representing both Emory and Children’s to the community. It will be his or her job to build bridges between community pediatricians and the academic resources of Emory as well as the clinical resources of Children’s.

Dean Lawley said, "We believe this new joint position better reflects the strong collaboration between Emory and Children’s. Both institutions are deeply committed to making that relationship even stronger ­ and to using this joint leadership position to help us leverage the combined strengths of Children’s, Emory, and the community physicians. The future of our success depends on all three groups working well together."

Dr. Berkelhamer says, "We are working to bring Children’s to national preeminence, and we know that depends both on providing the finest clinical care and on the cutting edge work made possible through shared access to high-tech equipment and facilities and cutting edge clinical research programs. We believe all of us ­- Emory, Children’s, and the community physicians ­- will benefit from an even stronger interface. We certainly know our patients will."

Dean Lawley adds that "Dr. Cornish has been an excellent leader and has contributed greatly to the success of the Department of Pediatrics."

Dr. Cornish’s decision to spend his sabbatical in becoming more involved with international child health comes as no surprise to those who know his life. Fluent in Spanish, Dr. Cornish spent two years as a missionary in Guatemala and El Salvador before entering Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s accelerated program to earn both a bachelor’s and medical degree.. He remains active in church and other charitable and service activities.

Dr. Cornish completed his residency training in pediatrics at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. While receiving fellowship training in neonatal-perinatal medicine at Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, he established one of the early extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) centers to help newborns with life-threatening breathing problems. At the completion of his military service, he joined the University of California, San Diego to establish a combined ECMO program between UCSD and the Children’s Hospital of San Diego.

Through his continuing research, he quickly became one of the nation’s leading authorities on ECMO and in 1990 was recruited to Emory University to start the successful Egleston Children’s ECMO Center. His research has focused on the physiology of extracorporeal (outside of the body) blood circulation, and he lectures internationally on advanced life support technologies for newborns. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Southern Society for Pediatric Research, and numerous other organizations.

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