Chancellor's Fall Update

Dear RBHS Colleagues:

Now that all Rutgers campuses have returned from summer break, I am pleased to welcome all of RBHS’ new and returning students, faculty, and staff at the start of this fall semester. The beginning of our new academic year offers an opportunity to renew focus and reflect on our recent accomplishments.

Generous support from our donors has enabled us to lead in collaborative research and deliver future-focused education to our students. I am proud to report that the 2019 fiscal year marked our third straight year of record fundraising with $84.4 million raised, an increase of $20 million more than the prior fiscal year. This achievement was accomplished through the support of many benefactors of varying means who were all motivated by our mission to shape the future of human health. This summer’s substantial $30 million gift from Rutgers alumna Marlene Brandt brought together University Behavioral Health Care and the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology to launch the Youth Behavioral and Well-Being Initiative. And many new and loyal donors participated in our inaugural “Chancellor’s Challenge” scholarship initiative which raised $1.4 million to benefit Robert Wood Johnson Medical School students. The success of this initiative has encouraged me to broaden the Chancellor’s Challenge this year to support scholarships at two other schools: Rutgers School of Dental Medicine and Rutgers School of Nursing.

Our faculty and programs continue to gain recognition for their outstanding commitment to their fields. Earlier this summer Masayori Inouye, PhD, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at RWJMS and member of CABM as well as CINJ, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that a scientist can attain.

Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development M. Maral Mouradian, MD launched the RBHS Faculty Mentoring program last year to help faculty achieve their fullest potential. The program has been successful in its inaugural year with the appointment of faculty development leaders at each RBHS unit, creation of the Faculty Development Council, and the development of mentor and mentee training sessions, women’s leadership forums, and the annual mentoring symposium hosted for RBHS faculty. More training sessions and events are planned for this year; Dr. Mouradian will be sending out emails with details in the near future.

Our work to deliver powerful outcomes for our communities within and outside of New Jersey was bolstered last spring when RBHS and our partners were awarded a $29 million grant as part of the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program (CTSA). The five-year grant was awarded due to the strength of the resulting New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science (NJ ACTS), which was formed among RBHS, Princeton, and NJIT, in partnership with community-based organizations, hospitals, community health centers, outpatient practices, data centers, and health information exchanges. Under the direction of Reynold Panettieri, MD, Vice Chancellor for Translational Medicine and Science, and his team, NJACTS will address unmet needs in clinical care and research to bring more evidence-based treatment to more patients more quickly. Become an NJACTS member to be eligible for pilot research grants, have access to training and mentoring programs, benefit from team resources, and more. This year, we commemorated the renewal of the core grant and NCI designation of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey as our State’s only comprehensive cancer center joined by a group of State and local leaders, donors, hospital partners, grateful patients, and family members. The Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI) also celebrated the renewal of their center grant National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

We continue to tackle important public health issues head on. Addressing a matter that is unfortunately top-of-mind for us all in recent days, the new New Jersey Center on Gun Violence Research at Rutgers University has awarded eight grants to researchers throughout the university to conduct original studies on gun violence and prevention. The center, which led by the Rutgers School of Public Health and the School of Criminal Justice Rutgers University–Newark conducts multi-disciplinary research on the causes, consequences, and solutions to firearm-related violence, including homicides, assaults, suicides, and accidental shootings. Stephanie Bonne, MD, assistant professor of trauma and critical care surgery at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, has continued her work to illuminate the intersection of firearms and violence in our communities including a recent address at the statehouse on behalf of legislation that supports a health-based approach to violence through community and hospital-based intervention.

We continue to offer vital health care that improves the health of New Jersey residents. RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, in partnership with New Brunswick Development Corporation, recently announced the development of a new, state-of-the-art, free-standing cancer pavilion in New Brunswick. The new pavilion will house key outpatient services, including those for chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as major diagnostic modalities, and inpatient cancer services. Research laboratory space and patient amenities also will be part of the space. The building is scheduled to be open by 2024. Last month UBHC opened an Intensive Outpatient Program for individuals with Opiate Use Disorder in New Brunswick and will open another Intensive Outpatient Program in Piscataway that will focus on general mood and anxiety this month.

The recruitment of accomplished researchers and practitioners continues to advance our mission to pioneer breakthroughs that result in life-changing discoveries, with 193 new faculty joining us during FY2019. M. Bishr Omary, MD, PhD joined us last month as the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, the Henry Rutgers Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Professor of Medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and core member of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine. He had been Executive Vice Dean for Research at the University of Michigan, and is the incoming President of the American Gastroenterological Association.

The search is reaching conclusion for the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion. A search will commence imminently for a permanent dean of Rutgers School of Nursing – which is open at this time following 10 years of leadership by William L. Holzemer, PhD, RN, FAAN, who has returned to the faculty. Linda Flynn, PhD, RN, FAAN, begins her tenure as interim dean this month.

We have accomplished much together since 2013 and I look forward to continuing our work in shaping the future of human health as one of the best academic health centers in the country.

Sincerely,

Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
Chancellor, RBHS
Executive Vice President of Health Affairs, Rutgers University