December 19, 2014
Highlights of the past year
As 2014 ends and 2015 approaches, I've been reflecting back on what a truly extraordinary year has just passed. Excellence, innovation, leadership, and compassion are the hallmarks of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center's work every year, and in 2014 our achievements reflect those values more than ever.
To show my admiration of and appreciation for all that we have achieved in the past year, I've assembled this brief roundup of 2014 WHSC accomplishments. There were many scores of achievements to celebrate and only limited space in which to do it, so I've chosen just a few examples to highlight. Please know that there are far more advances, activities, and especially people who deserve recognition than I can possibly cover here, but I am equally grateful for all. The faculty, staff, students, and supporters of the WHSC made 2014 a year we should all be proud of, and I can't wait to see what we will accomplish together in 2015. Thank you, as always, for all that you do, and please accept my best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2015.
Ebola and other infectious diseases
Emory's historic role in caring for Ebola patients in this country has been well documented, with our clinicians sharing detailed treatment protocols as well as expertise one-on-one with colleagues around the globe and receiving a personal thank-you from the President during his visit to the CDC in September. Our clinicians continue this work, publishing findings (including the fact that renal dialysis, when needed, can be used safely and successfully in treating patients), and conducting research with the CDC to develop better treatments and vaccines.
Others throughout the WHSC are involved in Ebola efforts as well. Members of Student Outbreak Response Team at Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) were trained by a geographer at CDC to map small squares of land in West Africa to help plan and coordinate activities there. Two December 2014 graduates of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, both emergency nurse practitioners, are headed to West Africa to care for Ebola patients, as employees of the Boston-based agency Partners in Health, while a third nursing student is already working in Liberia.
Many of our research grants for health sciences for FY 14, which totaled $483 million, reflected the depth and breadth of our expertise in other infectious diseases: Emory's renewed designation as one of the nation's nine NIH-sponsored Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units, a contract to re-fund the Emory-UGA Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance, renewal of NIH designation of the Emory-CDC HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Unit, an award to study functional genomics of HIV infection (Yerkes), and a National Science Foundation award to study waterborne disease risks. (RSPH).
New people and roles
This past year brought a number of new leaders to health sciences and changes in roles of leaders already here. Paul Johnson succeeded Stuart Zola as Director of Yerkes National Primate Research Center in August. Chris Larsen was named Emory Healthcare Physician Group President, adding to his other roles as medical school dean and VP of health center integration in the WHSC. Dane Peterson became EHC Hospital President; Craig McCoy, CEO of Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital (ESJH); Dan Owens, interim CEO of Emory University Hospital Midtown; and Marilyn Margolis, interim CEO at Emory Johns Creek Hospital. Ted Johnson was appointed physician director of Emory Medicine Primary Care and Population Health and chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the medical school, and Maha Lund was recruited to direct the Physician Assistant Program in medicine. RSPH recruited Colleen McBride from the National Human Genome Research Institute to chair its Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education.
Recognition, accomplishments, opportunities
Neurologist Mahlon DeLong received both the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the Lasker-DeBakey Award for his role in developing deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's, Rafi Ahmed and Chris Larsen were elected to the Institute of Medicine, and a record-setting nine Emory faculty members (eight from the WHSC) were elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Emory Healthcare received high marks in US News and University HealthSystem Consortium rankings. Emory University Hospital received its first Magnet recognition from the American Nurses Credential Center, and ESJH received its fifth such designation, one of only three hospitals in the world to do so. Winship Cancer Institute was selected for the National Cancer Institute's new National Clinical Trials Network and enrolled more patients in clinical trials (800+) this past year than ever before. Winship's fourth annual Win the Fight 5K drew more runners and raised more funds ($600,000+) than in any previous year. The FDA approved an Emory-developed hemophilia drug, and Emory Healthcare provided its largest total of charity care ($85 million) in Emory's history. Meanwhile, RSPH received $10 million from the Rollins Foundation, which doubles the school's endowment.
Serving students and trainees
Training in the health professions at Emory continued to evolve to meet societal and student needs. The nursing school launched a Doctor of Nursing Practice program and a specialty track in neonatal nursing; added 1,000 square feet to its simulation lab, along with new state-of-the art technology; established an academic partnership with Spelman College; and acquired the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Education Center, which has nearly 3,000 graduates around the world. The RSPH, which is first in MPH applications out of all schools of public health in the country, continues to strengthen its ties with CDC, with some 125 of its students employed by the CDC through the Rollins Earn and Learn Program. The medical school held its first Medical Education Day, with 100+ faculty identifying eight major goals, among them—enhancing collaboration between medical education and the health systems in which clinicians teach and provide care and enhancing interprofessional education.
New and continuing initiatives
In the past year, the RSPH created the Center for Behavioral Health Policy Studies to consolidate researchers focused on mental health. The Emory Medicine initiative to integrate the medical school and Emory Healthcare continued to invest in infrastructure in six high-impact programs (child health, brain health and neuroscience, cancer, heart health, transplantation, and musculoskeletal health) and a number of cross-cutting initiatives.
Programs and staff in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Neurology continued their move to Executive Park in anticipation of the spring 2015 launch of the Brain Health Initiative, an integrative neuroscience center encompassing clinical care, clinical research, and fundamental and translational science.
Emory Healthcare finalized a joint venture with Select Medical in providing long-term acute care and rehabilitation services and launched a congenital heart center with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. EHC's new clinic specializing in elusive diagnoses served its 100th patient. EHC debuted the Emory Electronic ICU, which links ICUs throughout the system, and a new health information exchange to allow Emory's own electronic medical record (EMR) to share information with other EMRs. Emory also partnered with Georgia Tech, with support from the Georgia Research Alliance, to form the Georgia ImmunoEngineering Consortium to apply the principles of engineering to predicting, modulating, and enhancing the immune response in various diseases.
Again, my sincere thanks and best wishes for the year ahead.
S. Wright Caughman, MD
Executive VP for Health Affairs
CEO, Woodruff Health Sciences Center