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State of the School Address: “Purposeful Actions, Promising Results: Relentlessly Advancing”

Thursday, September 26, 2013

E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA
 E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA

“Purposeful Actions, Promising Results: Relentlessly Advancing” was the theme of the 2013 State of the School addressed delivered on September 25, 2013 by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd, Dean Reece applauded the way in which the School of Medicine has not wavered from the path of success, in spite of such daunting challenges as sequestration and reduced funding for research from the National Institutes for Health (NIH). “While our progress has been considerable, we faced strong headwinds and challenges, some of which were anticipated and others that were harsh and unexpected,” Dean Reece said. “We nevertheless embraced the charge of the great American author Henry David Thoreau to go confidently in the direction of our dreams. It was against this tide of uncertainty that the School of Medicine persisted to advance relentlessly.”

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Much of the forward momentum was the result of a concrete, multi-year plan entitled Vision 2020, which has been implemented to keep the School of Medicine moving in the right direction. “Throughout the past year, we refused to be slowed down by outside forces that threatened to undermine our progress,” said the dean. “We took bold, purposeful and strategic actions. We were nimble and wisely opportunistic, pursuing the most promising opportunities, while also taking some calculated risks. We advanced relentlessly, always with a goal toward maintaining our strong, competitive advantage.”

PresentationThis approach was most evident in the protracted but ultimately successful efforts to secure funding for a new School of Medicine research building, Health Science Facility III (HSF-III). Showing a slide of an artist’s rendering of the building, Dean Reece said happily, “I have a different spin on HSF-III this year – it’s a reality! With support from the Maryland General Assembly, we just broke ground on this $305 million research building, which will serve as a magnet for attracting world-class researchers and will further strengthen the School of Medicine’s biomedical research structure.”

Other highlights of this year’s State of the School:

  • In January, a topping out ceremony was held for the $200 million Maryland Proton Treatment Center being built here on campus, right next to the BioPark. One of only 12 such centers in the nation so far, the Proton Center will bring the Baltimore/Washington region the world’s most-advanced technology in radiation treatment for cancer.
  • Dean Reece played an active leadership role in the establishment of state-wide Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs) in Maryland. Supported by $16 million in State appropriations, these HEZs will address the growing issue of health disparities across the state.
  • Six new Department Chairs were appointed in the past year: Christopher Harman, MD, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences; Bennie Jeng, MD, MS, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences; Bankole Johnson, DSc, MD, MPhil, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry; Elias Melhem, MD, Chair of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology & Nuclear Medicine; Andrew Pollak, MD, Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics; and Scott Thompson, PhD, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry.
  • Applications to the School of Medicine were up by 9% this year. For the first time, women comprise more than 60% of the class (63%).
  • Students in the Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS) were authors or co-authors on 174 publications.
  • The School of Medicine was mentioned in U.S. News and World Reports and The Chronicle of Higher Education regarding the Foundation in Research and Critical Thinking course it implemented this year.
  • There was a large turnout for the Rally for Medical Research on April 8, 2013, one of many rallies held simultaneously across the country to raise awareness of the consequences of cutting funding for basis science.
  • Although Grants & Contracts funding was down this year, the 12% loss here at the School of Medicine was below the 14% average across all medical schools.
  • Two new centers were established at the School of Medicine: The Center for Excellence on Problem Gambling will train 1,000 behavioral health professionals annually as part of a statewide, comprehensive and coordinated approach to combating gambling addiction in Maryland. The Center for Health –Related Informatics and Bioimaging (CHIB) , a joint initiative between UMB and College Park that is supported by the mPower Maryland program, will support advancements in comprehensive data mining and analysis to improve health outcomes. Also in the works is the Center for Integration of Molecular Imagining and Therapeutics (CIMIT), which aims to improve the translation of basic science into clinical use through the use of innovative and creative imaging technologies.
  • Philanthropy was up 13.7%, and the School of Medicine has raised more than $350,000,000 toward its ambitious goal to raise half a billion by 2015 as part of its “Transforming Medicine Beyond Imagination” campaign. This money will go toward capital projects such as HSF-III, Endowed Chair and Professorship positions, scholarships and clinical initiatives.
  • The School of Medicine received numerous mentions in the national media for its research and clinical endeavors, including CNN, NPR, ABC News and more.

“It is my sincere hope that today’s presentation has demonstrated to you the strategic and purposeful actions that we have taken and the positive initial results we have had,” said Dean Reece. “We will continue to be forward-thinking, and we expect to continue to maintain our strong pace and trajectory.”

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Attendees listening to Dr. Reece

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