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Dean's Letter - December 2014

Dear Weill Cornell Community:

As we enter the holiday season, one of the things I am most grateful for is the opportunity to be leading Weill Cornell as dean during such an exciting period of innovation and growth. Over the past year, two of our biggest efforts in recent history came to fruition — the opening of the Belfer Research Building and the launch of our new curriculum. Both involved the contributions of innumerable individuals throughout our community over many years, and both have at their core a desire to improve clinical care and discover better treatments for disease.

We are continuing to advance in our research, educational and clinical missions. More than 40 faculty programs have moved into the Belfer Research Building, and the built-out floors are now at 75 percent occupancy. Clinical investigation is progressing more efficiently with the support of the Clinical and Translational Science Center and the Weill Cornell/NewYork-Presbyterian Joint Clinical Trials Office. We have established a number of key translational centers and institutes to create unique interfaces between basic and clinical research. Now we are focusing our recruitment efforts on reinvigorating our basic science research, which forms the underpinnings of all our translational efforts.

Three months into the new curriculum, first-year students are performing well in their coursework and are providing regular, ongoing feedback to our faculty. They are reporting that they are satisfied with the new curriculum, especially the better integration of science with clinical care, and are pleased that the faculty are responsive to their concerns. We are making adjustments accordingly and are looking forward to beginning the next semester of classes.

Our Physician Organization has seen robust growth, with nearly 1.6 million patient visits annually. Almost one-fifth of these visits occurred outside our main Weill Cornell campus and were located in Lower Manhattan, the Upper West Side, or practices included as part of our Physician Network. Our clinical expansion initiatives, including new sites and physicians, are set to develop further throughout the New York metropolitan region in the coming years.

Of the myriad activities going on at the medical school, I'd like to highlight just a few:

• The first projects selected for funding by the Daedalus Fund for Innovation were announced this fall. The Daedalus Fund is designed to advance promising research projects beyond the early stages and generate the kind of proof-of-concept data required to attract industry or venture capital. We are extremely pleased to be able to support our faculty investigators with their translational research projects as they take their discoveries to the next step and work to develop better treatments for human disease.

• At Reunion in October, we announced our $50 million Campaign for Education. This effort includes funds for scholarship endowment, curriculum reform, renovation of the Weill Education Center, and professorships for medical education and teaching.

• On Jan. 1, a carefully planned transition in the Department of Academic Affairs will be taking place. Dr. Carol L. Storey-Johnson will be promoted to a new senior administrative position at the Medical College, Senior Advisor for Medical Education, from her current position as Senior Associate Dean (Education). Dr. Barbara L. Hempstead, the O. Wayne Isom Professor of Medicine and currently the Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity, will become the next Senior Associate Dean (Education). In her new role, she will continue as head of the Office of Faculty Development.

• We are launching an Institutional Biobank for clinical and translational research. The Biobank will facilitate coordinated tissue procurement, processing and storage, and will be directed by Dr. Giorgio Inghirami, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He will report to a Biobank Steering Committee chaired by Dr. Lew Cantley, the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center. Graduate School Dean Dr. Gary Koretzky will provide ultimate oversight of the operation of the Biobank.

• Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar will soon begin to implement a new five-year strategic plan, Vision 2015-2020. The plan was developed by seven taskforces, and its goals are related to the development of students, faculty and staff; creating multiple career pathways for our graduates; improving local healthcare and scientific knowledge; and building the region's healthcare workforce.

• Research advances from our faculty continue to be published in top-tier scientific journals and featured widely in the media. Recent pivotal projects have examined the comparative effectiveness of medical devices, the movement of proteins on the surface of the HIV virus, and the development of an anti-allergy toothpaste.

I wish all the members of the Weill Cornell family a happy and healthy holiday season, filled with friendship, laughter and love.

With warm regards,

Laurie H. Glimcher, M.D.
Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean
Weill Cornell Medical College
Provost for Medical Affairs
Cornell University

Posted December 9, 2014 10:40 AM | Permalink to this post