Anticipating commencement

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April 28, 2021

Anticipating commencement

I hope you’re as excited as I am that Emory University will come together to celebrate the Class of 2021 with modified in-person commencement ceremonies at the Georgia World Congress Center next month. Some aspects of the ceremonies will be different so that we adhere to health and safety guidelines, but we’ll still see the return of some of our venerable commencement traditions. The event is sure to be a positive, and even cathartic, moment for our entire Emory family.

The return of commencement feels like a step, not necessarily toward normalcy just yet, but at least back toward each other. Likewise, the safe, responsible in-person return of more of our faculty, staff, and students this fall will reinvigorate our vibrant community. Collegiality and collaboration are core values of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and while we’re not yet ready to fully resume our pre-COVID campus activities, the cautious, stepwise return of our people and our traditions means we’re heading in the right direction.

I’m deeply grateful to you all for your dedication, ingenuity, and adaptability over the past year, and I look forward to seeing you in person again as it becomes safer to do so. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I urge you to get on the schedule at the first possible opportunity. This is how we will continue moving forward together.

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

Curran steps down as RSPH dean

James W. Curran, dean of RSPH, has announced his plans to step down as dean. He will continue to remain actively engaged in his position until a new dean is selected and arrives. Curran joined RSHP as dean and professor of epidemiology in 1995, following his 25-year career at the CDC. He also has served as co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research and holds faculty appointments in the SOM and the SON. In 2009, the RSPH deanship was endowed and named the James W. Curran Dean of Public Health in his honor.

Under Curran’s leadership, RSPH has grown to the No. 4 rank among accredited schools and programs of public health, according to U.S. News & World Report and the No. 4 rank in NIH funding among all schools of public health. The school’s endowment has grown to more than $135 million.

A pioneer in HIV/AIDS prevention, Curran led the nation’s efforts in the battle against HIV/AIDS for 15 years before joining RSPH as dean. While at the CDC, he attained the rank of the assistant surgeon general. He also has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Read more here.

In Brief
Ramalingam editor of Cancer

Suresh S. Ramalingam, Winship deputy director, will serve as the new editor-in-chief of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. A thoracic oncologist and physician scientist, Ramalingam will begin a five-year editorship on July 1. Ramalingam is internationally recognized for his research, specifically for the development of individualized therapies for patients with small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. Read more here.

Winship opening urgent care center

Winship will establish an immediate care facility to bridge the gap between cancer centers and emergency rooms. The Rollins Immediate Care Center is expected to open in spring 2022. Winship piloted the idea in 2020, creating a separate urgent care area to treat cancer patients who had been exposed to COVID-19. The model showed the need for a permanent cancer immediate care center. Pictured above, the center is being designed via a collaborative process involving a multidisciplinary team of patients, nurses, physicians, and research staff. Read more here.

Telehealth EMS serves rural Georgia

Emory Healthcare is establishing the Emory Rural Tele-EMS Network, which will work with the South Georgia division of Grady EMS in cooperation with local rural hospitals in 14 counties. Using video technology and high-speed internet, the network puts Emory emergency medicine professionals “in the ambulance” across remote parts of Georgia. Pictured above, Michael Carr, the telemedicine network’s project director and an assistant professor of emergency medicine, works in the Emory hub. Read more here.

“Your Fantastic Mind” distributed nationwide

“Your Fantastic Mind,” the Georgia Public Broadcasting television series produced in partnership with the Emory Brain Health Center, has been accepted for nationwide distribution by the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Season 2 of “Your Fantastic Mind” will be made available to more than 200 PBS stations across the nation for possible inclusion in their programming schedules. Watch past episodes of “Your Fantastic Mind.”

Rafi Ahmed (Vaccine Center) has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jennifer Christie (digestive diseases) has been named vice president of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

Sanjay Gupta (neurosurgery) has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Tracey Henry (internal medicine) has been selected for the Unified Leadership Training in Diversity Program fellowship from the Society of General Internal Medicine.

Michael M. E. Johns, EVP for health affairs emeritus, professor in SOM and RSPH, has received the Herbert Pardes Family Award for National Leadership in Advocacy Research. The award will be bestowed at the 2021 Research American Advocacy Awards on May 13, 4-6 pm. 

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

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