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Dean's Letter - May 2017

Dear Weill Cornell Medicine Community,

As the academic year draws to a close, it is an honor to reflect on the achievements of our community and to look forward to developments that will accelerate our efforts to care, discover, and teach.

Education lies at the heart of our mission and is one of our greatest strengths. This year's graduating class had an exceptional Match Day, with one hundred percent of participating students successfully matching to internship and residency programs. The placements were also high quality; 87 percent of students matched to hospitals ranked in the top 50, and half matched to our peer consortium of teaching hospitals.

Our faculty train medical students to be lifelong learners who can contribute to the discovery and implementation of new treatments and clinical approaches. In the past few months, faculty members have made many exciting breakthroughs in basic, translational, and clinical research. These range from gaining a better understanding of how our nerve cells communicate, to enhancing our knowledge of how anesthesia works, to demonstrating the effectiveness of a scalp-cooling cap in lessening hair loss in chemotherapy patients.

Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to helping faculty members advance in their careers and grow professionally through mentorship, research support, and formal training programs. Recently, five faculty members with childcare responsibilities received Junior Faculty Fellowships to help support their research, and seven outstanding early-career faculty were awarded Healthcare Leadership Fellowships. I am committed to finding additional ways to strengthen our pipeline of talented faculty and trainees.

All our efforts revolve around helping patients, so we're excited that the new David H. Koch Center, a state-of-the-art ambulatory care facility, is rapidly progressing on the corner of York Avenue and 69th Street. The NewYork-Presbyterian facility will be staffed by Weill Cornell Medicine faculty and will be an important driver of growth for our Physician Organization. Its location across from the Belfer Research Building will also facilitate a collaborative approach among clinicians and researchers--from bench-to-bedside and back again--for the ultimate benefit of our patients.

While our community's activities over the past few months are too numerous to recount in full, I would like to share with you the following highlights:

  • Physician-scientist Dr. Virginia Pascual has been named the founding Gale and Ira Drukier Director of the Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children's Health at Weill Cornell Medicine and the Ronay A. Menschel Professor of Pediatrics. Dr. Pascual will lead a team of scientists whose research strives to end pediatric diseases caused by an altered immune system. The institute's second annual Gale and Ira Drukier Prize in Children's Health Research was awarded to Dr. Joshua Milner, Chief of the Genetics and Pathogenesis of Allergy Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for his innovative work on the genetic and physiologic basis for allergic diseases.
  • Dr. Geraldine McGinty was appointed to the newly created position of Chief Strategy Officer of the Weill Cornell Medicine Physician Organization (WCPO). In her new role, Dr. McGinty will support the WCPO by analyzing and evaluating key opportunities for growth of our clinical enterprise.
  • Dr. William Polvino has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Bridge Medicines, the pioneering drug discovery company founded by Weill Cornell Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals, in partnership with Deerfield Management and Bay City Capital.
  • Seven medical students in the Class of 2018 were awarded prestigious research grants to pursue yearlong research projects in their areas of concentration. Sydney Ariagno, Aditi Gupta, Solomon Levin, Aaron Oswald, and Yoshiko Toyoda were named 2017 Medical Research Fellows from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Amanda Garfinkel is a 2017 Sarnoff Fellow from the Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation, while Lewis Kerwin received a 2017 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship from the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medicine have established a Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, elevating the program from a division in order to enhance research, education, and patient care in rehabilitation medicine. Dr. Joel Stein has been appointed Chair of the new department and also leads Columbia's closely connected department of rehabilitation medicine.

Many more developments have occurred and are detailed in the full report. As we progress into the summer months, I thank you for your ongoing support of Weill Cornell Medicine's mission and am eager to provide additional updates as we work to shape a collective vision for our institution.


Augustine M.K. Choi, M.D.

Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean, Weill Cornell Medicine
Provost for Medical Affairs, Cornell University