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Dean's Letter - February 2015

Dear Weill Cornell Community,

2015 promises to be another productive and stimulating year for Weill Cornell, as we accelerate our efforts at becoming a national leader in translational research, precision medicine and healthcare delivery. Already, we've experienced some big changes and major advances in our mission.

On Jan. 1, Sanford I. Weill stepped down as chair of our Board after 20 years of visionary guidance. Under his leadership, Weill Cornell has undergone an unprecedented expansion. We've dramatically strengthened our biomedical research programs, enhanced the care we provide our patients and offered our students the latest in teaching innovations. We've also extended our reach far beyond New York and built bridges with partners in Houston, Qatar and Tanzania. Sandy's guidance, his unparalleled generosity and his commitment to the institution that bears his name have shaped Weill Cornell in so many ways, and his impact on medicine and healthcare will be felt for generations to come. His successor, Jessica M. Bibliowicz, brings a wealth of experience to the Medical College. A successful entrepreneur in the financial services business and a Cornell graduate who has been an Overseer since 2004, she will help lead Weill Cornell as we continue to break new ground in New York and abroad. I look forward to working with Jessica as she builds on Sandy's legacy.

Another major development that occurred on Jan. 1 was the launch of NewYork Quality Care, an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) that we formed with NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University. Our ACO operates under the Medicare Shared Savings model and is expected to include thousands of Medicare beneficiaries who receive the majority of their care at one of our facilities. We've made major improvements to our health information technology, care management and data analytics systems in order to better track patients and coordinate their care among different providers. This exciting new venture will help us to develop expertise in population health management and to provide the most cost-efficient, high-quality care to all our patients.

I am also pleased to report that at the end of last year, Weill Cornell received an extraordinary $25 million gift from Ira and Gale Drukier to establish the Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children's Health. The premier, cross-disciplinary institute will be dedicated to understanding the underlying causes of diseases that are devastating to children, and its goal will be to rapidly translate basic research breakthroughs into the most advanced therapies for patients. The Drukiers' immense generosity will also enable the Medical College to recruit a team of leading scientists, including a renowned expert who will serve as the Gale and Ira Drukier Director, to pursue innovative research that improves treatments and therapies for the littlest patients.

Other key advances have taken place in the past few months:

• The second semester of our new curriculum, Health, Illness and Disease, commenced in January and introduces different organ systems, such as the heart and the renal system, to first-year students. Course components such as vodcasts and podcasts are helping to activate the curriculum outside the classroom and promote habits of lifelong learning.

• A major grant was received by Dr. Shahin Rafii and the Ansary Stem Cell Institute. New York State's NYSTEM program awarded Dr. Rafii $15.7 million for the development of a cure for sickle-cell anemia using patients' own blood stem cells. Weill Cornell came in first place for this extremely competitive grant and received almost half of the funding awarded by NYSTEM to three institutions.

• Thanks to many generous gifts from our Overseers and supporters, I am delighted to report that we completed our $300 million Driving Discoveries, Changing Lives Campaign in December.

• Our faculty have made important contributions to the scientific literature. Recent studies have posited a connection between vitamin A deficiency and the development of diabetes, shed insight into the relationship between the immune system and fat accumulation, and elucidated a molecular link between prostate and breast cancers.

I'm very much looking forward to everything that 2015 has in store for us.

With warm regards,

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

Posted February 13, 2015 10:03 AM | Permalink to this post