One Year of COVID-19 at Emory

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March 31, 2021

One Year of COVID-19 at Emory

This month marks one year of the COVID-19 pandemic at Emory, and as I reflect back on a year that has been unlike any other, I have reason to be deeply proud of all that the people of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center have achieved. In our community’s time of need, each of you rallied in an unprecedented and deeply impressive effort.

For example, Emory has now treated more than 12,000 hospitalized COVID patients, with a survival rate of 92.5%, which is among the highest in the country. Now we’re applying the same efficiencies to our vaccination efforts and have administered 106,000 doses of vaccine so far, with the number climbing steadily as we continue to vaccinate 2,200 people a day.

As an academic health center, Emory also has the opportunity to deliver COVID results that reach far beyond our own health system, and our phenomenal research teams have made advances that are saving lives across the country and around the world, including crucial vaccine testing and development. Since last March, Emory has received more than $137 million in COVID-specific research funding, $104 million directly from the National Institutes of Health, ranking us number three in NIH awards for COVID research among U.S. universities.

While I’m proud of these and many other stellar results, I’m even more proud of the culture and attitudes that made them possible. From the earliest days of the pandemic, our teams mobilized their resources and expertise to fight this unique threat on many fronts. Thank you for seeing us through this unprecedented year with such courage and grace.

Please direct questions and comments to

Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, FACR
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
CEO and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

Bellamkonda named provost

Ravi Bellamkonda has been named the university’s next provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, effective July 1, 2021. Bellamkonda returns to Emory after serving as dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University for five years. He previously held a joint appointment as a faculty member at Emory and Georgia Institute of Technology beginning in 2003, serving as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering from 2013 to 2016.

At Duke, Bellamkonda oversaw vast improvements in the academic and research enterprise. He led a reimagining of the engineering curriculum to introduce experiential learning, design thinking and team-based projects in the first year, and emphasize authentic, society-oriented problem-solving throughout the undergraduate experience. He also helped recruit and retain many preeminent faculty members, realizing a greater than 10 percent increase in the school’s tenure-track faculty and 30 percent growth in faculty research expenditures. At the same time, the number of female and other underrepresented faculty members in the school of engineering nearly doubled.

Bellamkonda also helped significantly enhance alumni and parent engagement; gifts to the Engineering Annual Fund rose to all-time highs during his tenure. In addition, he oversaw successful fundraising efforts that helped support construction of Duke’s new Wilkinson Building, a $115 million, 150,000-square-foot facility designed to advance engineering education, research and entrepreneurship. Read more here.

In Brief
Top of the class

Emory graduate and professional schools and programs once again are among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report ’s 2022 rankings. The SON master’s program ranks 2nd in the nation and its doctor of nursing practice program is 8th. RSPH ranks 4th in the nation. The SOM ranks 22nd nationally among research-oriented medical schools, and 36th among primary care schools. Ranking 2nd in the nation is the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program, a joint effort between the School of Medicine, Laney Graduate School and Georgia Tech. Read more here.

Newsweek rankings

In Newsweek’s rankings of 2,000 leading hospitals in 25 countries, Emory University Hospital ranked No. 30, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital was No. 93, and Emory Johns Creek Hospital came in at No. 178. In Georgia, these hospitals ranked No. 1, 2, and 3 respectively. All three Emory hospitals have also been recognized with a Best Infection Prevention Award for performing above the national average in infection prevention measures, based on data reported by US hospitals to the CDC.

100,000 doses of vaccine

Last week, Emory Healthcare administered its 100,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The recipient of that milestone vaccine was Emory Healthcare patient Alison Danforth, who is six-months pregnant. After discussions with her Emory obstetrics team, she decided getting the vaccine was overall the best choice for protecting herself and her child.

Correll Distinguished Clinician Leadership Fund

The Correll Family Foundation has established the Correll Distinguished Clinician Leadership Fund in honor of Chad Ritenour (pictured above) for his leadership responsibilities within Emory Healthcare. Ritenour is the chief medical officer at Emory University Hospital and professor in the Department of Urology at the school of medicine. Through the foundation, the Correll family has funded chairs, scholarships, and professorships.

Partnership to advance cancer health equity

The SOM is collaborating with Equify Health on a $750,000 grant to address cancer health disparities. The grant from Genentech, a leading biotechnology company, will fund equity-centered research with Black patients and oncology providers. Winship and Grady will serve as pilot sites for testing and implementation of the equity development training platform. Read more here.

Emergency Cardiac Care Center Designations

Emory University Hospital Midtown was designated a Level I Emergency Cardiac Care Center, the state’s highest level of emergency cardiac care. EUHM is the second Emory hospital in the metro Atlanta area to receive this designation, with Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital being the other. Emory Johns Creek Hospital was designated a Level II Emergency Cardiac Care Center.

Deborah Watkins Bruner, senior vice president for research, has been selected for the Claire M. Fagin Distinguished Researcher Award, which honors distinguished Penn Nursing faculty and alumni.

Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean for Emory School of Medicine at Grady Health Systems, has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the Charles R. Hatcher Jr., MD Award for Excellence in Public Health. This award is given to faculty in WHSC who, through their lifetime of work, exemplify excellence in public health.

Chris Dente, chief of the general surgery service of Emory at Grady, is the recipient of the Emory at Grady Innovation Award for 2020, which honors faculty who have used creativity and innovation to improve patient care or trainee education.

Michael Kutner (biostatistics and bioinformatics, RSPH), received the 2021 American Statistical Association Karl E. Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions for the Betterment of Society.

Eric Weeks, director of the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, received the 2020 Francis G. Slack Award, created by the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society to honor excellence in service to physics in the Southeast.

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