Welcome to Our 250th Anniversary Year

September 2, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

As we begin a new academic year, I want to welcome our new faculty, students, and trainees to Penn Medicine and wish everyone in our community a successful and most productive 2014-15 academic year.

The beginning of each academic year is always energizing. But two things set this year apart: 1) our medical school’s 250th celebration of the founding of the school in 1765 and 2) the momentum that has been building as we approached this milestone, especially the great progress we have made across Penn Medicine in the past year to advance each of our mission areas. Two hundred and fifty years ago, Penn established the template for American medical education. In the vision of John Morgan and his colleagues, all the essential elements were present at the outset -- affiliation with a university, recruitment of outstanding faculty, and joining classroom education with bedside teaching as part of a planned curriculum. From the start, we had a faculty interested not only in the practice of clinical medicine and surgery, but also in basic medical science. Our school had the first professors of chemistry, physiology, and pharmacology. We established the first institutes of anatomy and public health, among many others. For generations, the contributions made by our faculty have been fundamental.

The lesson I draw from this rich heritage is that continuous adaptability and vitality are part of Penn Medicine’s DNA. The embrace of this forward-thinking institutional culture by those who came before us accounts for our academic medical center’s success through the years. And we are carrying this progressive vision forward today. Indeed, we are superbly positioned to improve health and impact society for the next 250 years.

In a previous message, I described how enhancements to the processes of technology transfer and clinical trials at Penn would extend our lead in translational medicine. Today, I want to underscore that the steps we are taking to support rapid and continuous progress in research are matched by initiatives to support corresponding excellence in education and patient care.

The highlight of this academic year will take place in May with the formal dedication of the stunning new Jordan Medical Education Center marking our 250th celebration. The Jordan Center, where students will begin taking classes in January, has been designed to support a new paradigm for medical education. Its innovative learning environment includes the state-of-the-art Law Family Auditorium, collaborative public spaces, and small group learning spaces. A recording studio will facilitate production of online content and courses and the recording of lectures, seminars and other educational programs, and will also facilitate cutting-edge telemedicine initiatives.

At the same time that we are creating the infrastructure to define the future of medical education, we have also increased financial aid for both undergraduate education and biomedical graduate studies. For the 2014-15 academic year, we have awarded $15.7 million in UME financial aid, including an increase of 12 in the number of Perelman Scholars (to 36) and an increase of two in the number of Gamble Scholars (to 62). Ninety-four incoming PhD students are fully supported on training grants, an increase of 10 from last year’s cohort.

Correspondingly, we are investing in the excellence of patient care. Penn Medicine University City, an outpatient care and same-day surgery facility, opens this month at 3737 Market Street, extending the reach of Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. In addition, the South Pavilion Extension of the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, which will serve as the primary home of the clinical neurosciences service line, is scheduled to open in January. The extension will contain 180 exam rooms in addition to consultation rooms that will bring health care providers to patients, eliminating the need to visit different buildings around the medical campus.

Construction is also underway on seven additional floors structurally integrated with the Jordan Medical Education Center that will house a cell manufacturing facility to support our growing immunotherapy program , the administrative offices of the Abramson Cancer Center, along with additional faculty office and clinical research support space, all scheduled to open in June 2016.

These capital projects reflect the extraordinary pace and scope of activity at Penn Medicine and the many breakthroughs taking place every day within our walls. To cite just one recent example that you may have missed over the summer -- in July, the team led by Carl June became one of the first to receive the FDA’s important Breakthrough Therapy designation, which was awarded to fast-track the personalized cellular treatment of leukemia. Although I am constantly looking forward, it is also important to celebrate our past. Stepping back for a moment to consider the breadth of extraordinary activity at Penn Medicine leading up to our 250th celebration, it is easy to imagine some future historian weighing our current accomplishments in translational research, education, and clinical care and concluding that this is a golden age for Penn Medicine.

I will end by saying how very proud I am of all that we have collectively achieved to reach this milestone so well positioned for the future. The words of William Osler, one of the most visionary and impactful faculty members in our school’s distinguished history, say it best: “The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today’s work superbly well.” Thank you all for doing just that.With warm regards and best wishes for our 250th celebratory year,

&quote;Larry&quote; Signature
J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD