2015 Spring Progress Report

Dear Colleagues:

We have continued to make significant progress on our strategic plan since I last reported to you in January. I am pleased to provide the following brief summary of the major accomplishments to date.

Leadership, Leadership Support, and Faculty Development

Several key leadership positions and faculty appointments have been finalized within the last few months; a few additional searches are beginning:

  • Gwendolyn Mahon, Ph.D. began on March 11 as Dean, Rutgers School of Health Related Professions.
  • Jasjit Ahluwalia, M.D., M.P.H., M.S. will begin on May 8, 2015 as Dean, Rutgers School of Public Health.
  • Sherine Gabriel, M.D., M.Sc. has been appointed as Dean, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She will begin in August 2015.
  • Karen Edelblum, Ph.D. has accepted appointment as an RBHS Chancellor Scholar and assistant professor, tenure track, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Edelblum will begin on or about July 1, 2015.
  • An external senior clinician scientist has accepted an offer to direct a new Institute of Clinical and Translational Research and lead our effort to develop an application for a Clinical and Translational Science Award. He will begin on July 1, 2015. A formal announcement will be made soon.
  • Searches are beginning for: 1) Henry Rutgers Professor of Global Health and Director of Global Health for RBHS and 2) Henry Rutgers Professor of Bioethics and Director of Bioethics for RBHS.

In addition, to foster career development for existing faculty:

  • A podcast of the Building Bridges for Biomedical Collaborative Research Retreat, held on December 1, 2014, has been posted on the RBHS homepage (https://rbhs.rutgers.edu/). The video offers a summary of the breakout sessions from this day-long event that featured over 150 Rutgers faculty from RBHS and the Life Sciences Division of Rutgers University–New Brunswick, who discussed plans for a broad range of large, multidisciplinary programs.
  • Barbara Gladson, P.T., O.T., Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, School of Health Related Professions; Shawna Hudson, Ph.D., Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS); and Monica Roth, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology, RWJMS, have been selected via open RBHS-wide competition to attend, at RBHS expense, the 2015 HERS Bryn Mawr Summer Institute, the prestigious 12-day Higher Education Resources Services Leadership Training Course dedicated to creating and sustaining a community of women leaders through leadership development programs.
  • A series of management and professional development classes is being offered by Rutgers University Human Resources. For a listing of all classes, please see https://uhr.rutgers.edu/professional-development-opportunities.
  • The Rutgers Leadership Academy has developed a two-year program for mid-career faculty and staff at Rutgers–New Brunswick and RBHS with an interest in and potential for expanded leadership roles. The program will begin in fall 2015. Nominations are to be submitted by vice presidents, deans, directors, chairs, unit directors, and other administrative leaders. For more information about the leadership academy and the nomination process, please go to https://ol.rutgers.edu/leadership-education/#rla.
  • RBHS Provosts Jeffrey Carson, M.D. and Robert Wieder, M.D. have been working to improve the implementation of the existing faculty evaluation process and clarify the evaluation criteria. Their goals are to enable chairs, institute directors, and division chiefs to better assess faculty performance and define faculty career goals and allocation of time, while honoring faculty contractual commitments. The provosts presented the evaluation process to deans and department chairs and, in separate presentations, to all faculty in New Brunswick/Piscataway and to all faculty in Newark, with v-tel to other campuses. A podcast of the faculty presentations will be available soon on the RBHS website (https://rbhs.rutgers.edu/). In addition, we were pleased to welcome Karen Stubaus, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Administration at Rutgers, and Ilyssa DeCasperis, J.D., Executive Director of the AAUP-BHSNJ, to the New Brunswick session, where they both spoke of the new, collaborative relationship between the Rutgers administration and the faculty union. This new relationship, a sharp departure from the relationship of the past, has already had a beneficial effect at the bargaining table. Both spoke of their mutual goal of a speedy resolution of the contract.

Clinical Initiatives

Multiple clinical initiatives are being developed to address clinical services generally and the quality of patient care specifically as we strive to respond to the rapidly changing health care environment.

  • We recently received confirmation from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that RBHS fulfilled its requirements under the Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) (September 2009 through September 2014), originally between the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and the OIG and subsequently between RBHS and the OIG pursuant to the integration of UMDNJ and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. With the expiration of the CIA, RBHS is released from its reporting requirements to the OIG but will continue the robust health care compliance program developed over the last six years.
  • A five-year master affiliation agreement between RWJMS and RWJUH is in the final stages of negotiation. The agreement will benefit both partners and ensure the provision of quality health care.
  • A renegotiation of the master affiliation agreement with University Hospital (Newark) has begun.
  • NJMS will begin soon to discuss a master affiliation agreement with Barnabas Health. The goal is to formalize and deepen our developing relationship with Barnabas Health.
  • Changes are being implemented in the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group's practice plan to improve patient access to care. Changes include the establishment of a patient call center located within University Behavioral Health Care. Patient calls to practices in medicine, cardiology, neurology, surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology have been transferred to the new call center. Patient calls for psychiatry, dermatology, family medicine and community health, and pediatrics will be transferred in the coming months. In the first month of implementation, unanswered calls in the initially transferred departments were reduced from 64% to 4% and new patient appointments were increased by 20%.
  • A steering committee has been formed and a consultant has been hired to explore the potential for an RBHS-wide multi-specialty, multi-professional faculty practice plan. Current clinical operations will be assessed across clinical departments of multiple schools and campuses, clinical care units, and licensed providers to address the revolutionary changes in the health care delivery system, following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Navigant Consulting, hired by the State of New Jersey, has released its recommendations regarding hospital care in Newark. A significant recommendation for RBHS is the development of a new regional medical center by combining Newark Beth Israel Hospital and University Hospital on the University Hospital campus, which would require a public-private partnership and substantial capital investment.

Funding for Initiatives and Financial Strategies

A series of strategies is being implemented to fund specific components of the strategic plan. These strategies are designed to fund research programs, especially those focusing on signature and complementary programs; improve financial performance within schools and units; and address financial and administrative challenges. Some recent efforts and initiatives in this regard include:

  • Through the RU Foundation, the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey has funded three RBHS programs through its health services for veterans program: the RWJMS C.O.M.B.A.T program, University Behavioral Health Care's Military Mom2Mom program, and the School of Nursing's F.O.C.U.S. Wellness Center.
  • Many notable gifts for RBHS programs have been received in FY2016 through the RU Foundation. These include: an endowed chair in pediatric hematology and oncology, Cancer Institute of New Jersey, funded by the Embrace Kids Foundation; an endowed chair in surgery, NJMS, in honor of Benjamin J. Rush, M.D., the founding chair of the department, funded by the estate of Dr. Rush, surgery faculty, and alumni; the Peter W. Carmel, M.D. Chair of Neurological Surgery, in honor of the founding chair of the department and founding co-medical director of the Neurological Institute of New Jersey in Newark, funded by several sources, including Dr. Carmel and Jacqueline Bello, M.D., neurosurgical faculty, and alumni; an endowed chair in dermatology, RWJMS, with funding provided by Christopher Papa, M.D., the founding department chair, and Regina Cuta, M.D.; and a commitment from St. Peter's University Hospital to support the pharmacy building addition. The RU Foundation is also developing a patient and family program, through which patients and families will be given opportunities to support RBHS physicians and scientists.
  • The University's Office of Research and Economic Development has posted its announcement regarding the Rutgers Research Council small grants program for 2015–16. These grants—a maximum of $5,000 each—will be awarded to full-time faculty to support studies that are likely to lead to significant extramural awards. Applicants may request funds for a variety of research needs, such as equipment and supplies, help, publication subvention, research colloquia, and essential travel related to research.
  • The New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF) announced its new Innovation Grants Program on March 30, 2015. NJHF has teamed with The Nicholson Foundation to provide funding for Innovation Grants, up to $50,000 per award, for faculty with promising ideas that will support the advancement of innovative ideas toward commercialization. Information about this program is available at www.njhealthfoundation.org/.
  • The NJHF will soon issue a call for grant applications in the next round of funding for its Research Grants Program. Grants of up to $35,000 will be available to fund early projects that demonstrate exciting potential and help researchers qualify for larger grants from other organizations to advance their projects. Information about this grant opportunity will be available at www.njhealthfoundation.org/.
  • RBHS closed FY2014 with a $29M deficit. The FY2015 budget projected a deficit of $16.5M, but there was a $1.6M surplus as of March 1, 2015. This represented an $18.1M positive variance. The year-end projection for FY2015 is currently being finalized; a deficit between $2M and $5M is anticipated.

RBHS Strategic Plan Speaker Series

A speaker series has been developed that will feature national experts and leaders in their respective fields, whose presentations will help inform and guide RBHS as we seek to implement specific RBHS strategic plan initiatives. The speakers will address topics focusing on signature programs, complementary programs, educational initiatives, clinical initiatives, community service activities, integration among schools and across Rutgers, other enabling structures, and financial and development strategies. A podcast of the first speaker in this series, Michael Magill, M.D., who spoke recently about the transformation of health care through practice redesign, will be available soon at https://rbhs-stratplan.rutgers.edu/implementation/rbhs-strategic-plan-speaker-series.

Thanks to all of you who have worked so hard over the course of the past year to make these achievements possible.

Best wishes for a productive remainder of the 2014–15 academic year and congratulations to those students who will graduate in May (and to their faculty and mentors).


Brian L. Strom, M.D., M.P.H.

Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences