January 13, 2015
Dear Colleagues and Students:
I am writing to wish you a very Happy New Year and to welcome you back from what I hope were peaceful holidays with loved ones and friends. You are returning to a momentous semester in the life of Penn Medicine. It's no secret that 2015 marks the 250th birthday of the Perelman School of Medicine - the first medical school in the United States! We will formally commemorate that milestone during medical alumni weekend in May, with all the festivity befitting such an occasion.
Our 250th anniversary year encompasses both tradition and opportunity. On the one hand, we will commemorate an abundant legacy of excellence and societal impact entrusted to us by generations of pioneering physicians and scientists and dedicated staff. At the same time, reaching this milestone is an opportunity for us to launch a bold new era in the history of Penn Medicine.
I will have much more to say about how we can make the most of this unique opportunity in a State of Penn Medicine address next month. For today, I want to highlight a few essential themes that will guide us in 2015 and the years ahead. Not surprisingly, they come from our five-year Strategic Plan, which we are well on our way to fully implementing. The foresight the faculty displayed in designing a framework flexible enough to navigate a dynamic health care environment has been critical to our progress over the past two years.
That progress comes at a time when a shifting clinical landscape and constraints on federal research funding pose significant challenges. And yet when you compare our recent performance to that of other academic medical centers what stands out is the dexterity with which we have maintained financial strength and the exciting advances we continue to make in biomedical research, teaching, and clinical care.
Our strategy's fundamental theme is as simple as it is powerful: to press our advantages, using our innovative spirit and knowledge to shape the future of medicine, rather than being merely reactive to the forces of change. We approach our next 250 years from a position of strength. We are making capital investments and creating interdisciplinary programs that enable the talents of our faculty and students to flourish. Indeed, their excellence and hard work are the foundation for our success, attracting financial resources and fresh talent that catalyze creative thinking throughout Penn Medicine and across the University.
The number of construction cranes on campus seem to increase daily, and the stunning changes to our campus, supporting each of our missions, are perhaps the most obvious signs of our momentum. This month our medical students begin taking classes in the new state-of-the-art Jordan Medical Education Center, whose design, technological resources, and location at the crossroads of research and clinical care will help us shape the future of medical education well into the 21st century. At the same time, we are completing the South Pavilion extension of the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, which beginning next month will serve as the new home of the clinical neurosciences service line.
There are many more projects underway, including the new Pavilion for Advanced Care at Penn Presbyterian and the recently opened outpatient facility at Penn Medicine University City. The complete renovations to Stemmler Hall and the Richards Medical Research Labs will provide much needed updates to these buildings and open up new space for the Institute of Biomedical Informatics (IBI) and the neurosciences. With the arrival of Jason Moore, PhD, in March as the new IBI director, we will be superbly positioned to create a well-resourced and highly collaborative biomedical informatics infrastructure that places Penn at the forefront in this increasingly impactful domain.
We are also deeply engaged in strengthening our clinical enterprise. Strategic regional alliances are successfully bringing new patients into the health system, and we are expanding our capacity for outpatient care. Moreover, the quality of care as measured by patient satisfaction and safety outcomes has never been higher or the focus of more concerted efforts for improvement. Long-term planning is underway for a new patient pavilion to update HUP and enhance our regional position as a leader in advanced medicine.
As 2015 begins, our school continues to attract some of the most talented faculty and the brightest students in the country. We have recruited approximately 45 faculty to the tenure track since the beginning of FY14, and fast-track recruitments of transformative faculty are ongoing.
In terms of medical education, increased financial aid for both undergraduate education and biomedical graduate studies and graduate education is a high priority of our 250th anniversary fundraising campaign, to assure that a world-class education is accessible to the best students in the country regardless of need.
At the same time that we make these investments in talent and infrastructure, we are realizing the advantage of a strong entrepreneurial culture at Penn. Proof of this proposition came recently in the form of this interesting article in the December 2014 issue of Nature Biotechnology. It ranked Penn second among national universities in bio/device technology commercialization, a gratifying result that highlighted the efforts of the Penn Center for Innovation and demonstrated the innovative spirit that has been a hallmark of Penn's faculty since our very beginning. That spirit is matched by our determination to have a broad impact. The vigorous response of faculty and staff to the recent Ebola threat sets Penn Medicine apart nationally and reaffirms our scientific community's unsurpassed commitment to solving problems and making a positive difference in the world.
The core values and character of our scientific community were established 250 years ago by John Morgan and his colleagues, who in founding our medical school established the template for academic medicine in the United States. I look forward to celebrating that rich heritage with everyone in May. In the meantime, as we approach this milestone together, I wish everyone an exciting new year of learning, discovery, and care that makes the most of our opportunities to continue shaping the future of medicine.
With best regards,
J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD