2017 Fall Progress Report

Dear RBHS Colleagues:

As we move into the new academic year, I would like to share with you with a brief summary of the many activities and achievements taking place across RBHS. As those of you who have attended one of my recent town hall meetings know, this spring semester marked the midpoint of our five year strategic planning cycle, and it has been another season of progress and accomplishment throughout RBHS.

Most notably, we signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the RWJBarnabas Health system which will advance our progress in building a world class academic health system in New Jersey. In a series of three town hall meetings, I have been able to present the LOI in greater detail and addressed many of the questions from faculty and staff. Future town hall meetings will be scheduled as we proceed with due diligence, planning, and implementing the individual operational components of this partnership.

There is additional good news from a budget point of view; as the numbers from FY2016-2017 approach completion, RBHS appears to be on target to conclude another year with essentially a balanced budget. More details will be forthcoming as the year's finances are closed.

As another notable development, under the leadership of Vice President for Development Will Green, the Rutgers University Foundation has achieved a year-over-year increase in total philanthropic support growing from $43.4 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 to $49.9 million for Fiscal Year 2017. Adding to this milestone, FY 2017 represents the best fundraising year to date for RBHS, exceeding the $47.2 million that was raised in FY 2014. Congratulations to Will Green and his team in the RBHS Development Office for their hard work this past year and this record-setting performance.

Philanthropy will play a crucial role in our ability to fulfill the promise of the RBHS Strategic Plan. This year's success is a small but meaningful step forward and more importantly, a sign of the positive momentum building behind our collective vision for the future. Rest assured that Will and his team do not view this year's success as a culmination of their efforts, but as one component of building a best-in-class fundraising enterprise. Another key component is a new grateful patient program now in development. In the future, these efforts will provide critical support for the fulfillment of the RBHS Strategic Plan, the rollout of the Rutgers Health brand, and the realization of the RBHS Physical Master Plan.

Faculty development efforts across RBHS are being led by Provosts Bob Wieder and Jeff Carson. In April, the first class of the Rutgers Leadership Academy (RLA) to include a cohort of faculty from RBHS graduated. The RLA has also announced its class of 2019. New RBHS faculty chosen to participate include Mary Bridgeman from the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy; Salma Jabbour from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey; Juana Hutchinson-Colas, Rhonda Smith, and Saum Rahimi from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Karen Shapiro from the School of Health Professions; Kyle Warren from the School of Nursing; Laura Liang and Derek Shendell from the School of Public Health; and Stephanie Marcello Duva from University Behavioral Health Care. Congratulations to the new RLA fellows!

Among many other initiatives, this May the Provosts organized a highly successful Women's Leadership Symposium. In the fall, they plan to unveil a number of initiatives including: a formal RBHS-wide mentorship program with training for mentors; a grant-writing workshop for clinical faculty; and a pilot program for leadership training for department chairs and division chiefs. The Provosts continue to support faculty candidates annually participating in the Bryn Mawr HERS program and other professional development programs.

Recently, I shared my response to the report of the RBHS Committee on Best Practices for the Recruitment and Retention of Minority Faculty. I am pleased to move forward the key strategic initiatives they recommended, including: the adoption of a statement on diversity and inclusion for RBHS, a national search for a Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, and an investment from the Chancellor's Office in the recruitment of three new diverse faculty members per year. This investment combined with the support for diversity recruitment from President Barchi's initiative will result in up to five new recruitments per year.

RUBIES (the Rutgers Biostatistics and Epidemiology Services Center), launched last year, has now been engaged by faculty members to provide consultation on a dozen research projects. These projects span areas from public health interventions to clinical outcomes across five schools and institutes. Rutgers investigators can access statistics, programming, and data analysis on a fee-for-services basis, and initial requests for service are without charge. For additional information or to request a consult, please visit: rubies.rutgers.edu.

RBHS has been actively supporting cross campus collaborations in Neurosciences and Big Data with other chancellor units of Rutgers University. With support from RBHS of several collaborative seed grants along with RU-Newark and RU-New Brunswick, collaborating investigators have presented their results at highly successful intercampus symposia and have successfully competed for NIH funding, providing a significant multiplicative return on the seed grant investments.

Our recruit to serve as Dean of the School of Public Health, Perry Halkitis, PhD joined us in August from New York University. Perry had already been spending significant time and energy in transitioning with Interim Dean Cristine Delnevo, meeting with faculty and staff, and laying the groundwork for his vision for the future of SPH. Please join me in welcoming Perry to RBHS.

We are also making significant progress in several key searches at the RBHS institute director level. Our success in attracting distinguished scholars and clinicians from excellent institutions across the country continues. The caliber of candidates all expressing a keen interest to become faculty members and leaders at RBHS, is another indicator of our positive momentum. Finalists for the position of Director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI)/Chair of the School of Public Health Department of Environmental and Occupational Health are currently visiting campus. The search for the Director of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research (IFH) is also at this advanced stage with final candidates each spending two days visiting campus. Lastly, the search for a Director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine is progressing with a group of candidates meeting with faculty and touring our campuses.

I am also pleased to welcome the ninth Chancellor's Scholar to RBHS with the recent recruitment of Dr. Steven Brant to the position of Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Currently, Dr. Brant is the Director of the Meyerhoff Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Johns Hopkins and will be joining the faculty later this year.

Also in August, I was proud to join with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Rutgers University Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, and the CEO's of many other Newark-based anchor institutions to announce the Newark 2020 initiative. Collectively, the largest corporate, industrial, health-care, and educational institutions within the City of Newark have pledged to support economic growth and development efforts through a concerted focus on increasing employment for local residents, encouraging procurement from local businesses, and promoting Newark as a place to live for employees. Similar urban renewal efforts strategically directing the economic power of anchor institutions have succeeded in diverse cities such as Memphis, Tennessee; Detroit, Michigan; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As these initiatives develop we will be communicating more details about opportunities and results.

On July 1, under the direction of its President Vicente Gracias, Rutgers Health Group became fully operational with the adoption of its own annual budget. The RHG Board now has a full complement of 29 trustees seated.

Thank you for your contributions to our clinical, academic, and research enterprise. As you can see, we are advancing as an institution toward our goal of developing one of the best academic health centers in the country. We will continue to update you on important developments as they occur throughout the year.


Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH

Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences 
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs