University Day Speech
Dr. Stuart D. Cook
September 17, 2002
Historically, UMDNJ celebrates the new academic year on University Day. At this time, we review the University's highlights and accomplishments of the past 12 months and the progress made in achieving our strategic goals. Last year, this celebration was interrupted by the tragic events of September 11th. None of us can ever forget the horrors that unfolded that day nor the subsequent impact these events have had on our lives as individuals and as a nation. As we have gone forward since September 11th, I believe our University family has shown itself to be a sturdy, enduring and caring community, committed to doing its job and to doing it well.
Today we will be reviewing the many accomplishments of the past year. Before beginning, I would like to recognize and thank our new chairman of the Board, Mr. Harvey Holzberg, our past chair Ms. Isabel Miranda and the other University trustees who have joined us on our Stratford campus for this important ceremony. Your presence today, your commitment to, and work on behalf, of this institution are appreciated by the entire University community.
I can think of no better example of a trustee who has personally committed his time and effort to UMDNJ than the individual we honored moments ago with the University Medal for Distinguished Leadership--Mr. Stephen Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has worked diligently on behalf of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey for almost two decades and his efforts are greatly appreciated. I would also like to acknowledge our three newest deans.
Dr. R. Michael Gallagher, interim dean of the School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Gallagher, who has been vice dean of the school for the past nine years, is a nationally recognized expert in the field of headache treatment.
Dr. Audrey Gotsch, who was named dean of the School of Public Health in October, having served as interim dean for prior six months. She joined the faculty of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 1976 and was deputy director of the New Jersey Graduate Program in Public Health for 19 years.
Later this afternoon the Board of Trustees will be asked to confirm Dr. Sara Torres as the new dean of the School of Nursing. Dr. Torres comes to us from the University of Maryland, where she distinguished herself as chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Nursing.
I also want to add my congratulations to our new Master Educators and the recipients of our first University-wide Departmental Excellence Awards. These outstanding individuals and departments work on the leading edge, encouraging us, inspiring us, pushing us to reach new heights in the classroom, in the laboratory, in the clinic and in the community.
Now for some specifics about the University's accomplishments during the past academic year, particularly in relationship to the strategic goals we established in 1999.
First, in the area of research, I am proud to report that we are on-track and indeed will exceed our goal of doubling research funding by the year 2004. From July 2001 to June 2002, we saw our federal research revenues increase by 15.4 per cent, a figure well above the national average. We are also tracking at a higher rate than the mean for other universities and medical schools in NIH and federal support over the past four years. I know of the enormous effort expended by so many people in each of our schools and on each of our campuses to achieve this record and thank you all for your accomplishment.
But, the real success of our research effort is yet to be felt. In several of our schools our growth, while very robust, has been limited by a severe lack of laboratory space. Fortunately, our $518 million capital construction program, designed to solve this issue with a doubling of available research space, is proceeding on schedule. To date three of the capital projects related to research have been completed and many more have been initiated or will begin shortly.
On the Piscataway campus, we opened a new 20,000 square foot research annex in record time to alleviate a critical space shortage for scientists at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School while a much larger second research tower is being constructed. The second building, which will house laboratories for the basic scientists at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School as well as the School of Public Health, will open next year. In New Brunswick, we expect to break ground this fall for the new Child Health Institute of New Jersey and have already had the topping off ceremony for The Cancer Institute of New Jersey's expansion. We are also in the planning stages for the construction of a new multi-purpose facility at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School clinical campus at Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center in Camden.
In May, we opened the International Center for Public Health in Newark's University Heights Science Park. The $78 million state-of-the-art facility, is a public/private partnership focused on scientific and clinical research related to infectious diseases. The center houses the Public Health Research Institute, two components of the New Jersey Medical School -- the National Tuberculosis Center and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and the Newark branch of the School of Public Health. Other construction projects underway include a new cancer center, added clinical facilities at University Hospital and the New Jersey Medical School and an expansion of the New Jersey Dental School clinical teaching facilities.
Here in Stratford, the renovation of the Science Center at the School of Osteopathic Medicine, which adds seven new laboratories, is complete and these facilities will open this month. The Specialty Care Center is under construction and the renovations to the Primary Care Center will begin next spring.
The continued growth of our research effort certainly speaks to the number of talented researchers on our faculty. I would like to single out several individuals who have received exceptional honors in recent months.
Dr. Sidney Pestka, professor and chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, was presented the National Medal of Technology for scientific and technologic accomplishment in a ceremony at the White House in June. He was cited for his discovery of the first recombinant interferons now used for the treatment of cancer, leukemia, viral diseases and multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Danny Reinberg, professor of biochemistry at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, was named the recipient of the Foundation of UMDNJ Outstanding Researcher Award. In the citation presented to him, the awards committee said "Dr. Reinberg is an outstanding scientist and a leader in understanding how transcription regulates genes."
Mr. Tom Denny, assistant professor of pathology, laboratory medicine and pediatrics at New Jersey Medical School, has received an appointment as a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy fellow. His research will focus on approaches to align vaccine development with public policy on timely distribution of these vaccines throughout the U.S.
In addition, Dr. Chavela Carr, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, was named a prestigious 2002 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Rameshawar Sharma, professor of cell biology at the School of Osteopathic Medicine, was awarded the International Society for Heart Research Medal for Excellence and Achievements in Science. Edylyn Naidas, a student in the masters-level nurse anesthesia tract, a joint program of the School of Nursing and Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, received the National Research Achievement Award from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
I am also proud to tell you that we have recruited 10 of the nation's best scientists to UMDNJ as part our University Professors program. All are leaders in their respective fields. And I have every expectation that we will attract many more such individuals to our faculty as space becomes available. I am proud that this program has been established without any large increase in external funding to the University from the state or private sector. This past year, with the help of the Foundation of UMDNJ, we also added five new endowed chairs.
I would also like to mention a few of UMDNJ's high profile research programs of the past year. Our Center for BioDefense has become a national leader in the areas of counterterrorism, emergency management, and basic research in infectious diseases. Directed by one of our new Master Educators, Dr. Nancy Connell, the center has received $6.75 million in federal funds over the past three years. The center is also working closely with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services on every element of the state's emergency preparedness infrastructure.
When the National Institutes of Health announced vanguard sites for its innovative Women's Health Initiative in 1992, UMDNJ was on the list. Two months ago, when the nationwide study determined that women who were on hormone replacement therapy were at increased risk of developing heart problems and breast cancer, UMDNJ researchers were again at the forefront because our site is the second largest patient enroller nationwide. The program is a joint project of New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and is an example of the many effective cross-campus initiatives now occurring at the University.
A $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health was awarded to the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to establish a new Center for Childhood Neurotoxicology and Assessment at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, a collaborative program with Rutgers. The new center will investigate how exposure to toxins might affect neurological development in children with autism, attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities.
The University also received its largest National Institutes of Health grant in history--with a $21 million grant--for a project at New Jersey Medical School comparing the effectiveness of the prescription drug wafarin to aspirin to determine which is more effective in preventing stroke in patients with congestive heart failure.
New Jersey Dental School received a $1 million grant from the Delta Dental Plan of New Jersey for three projects targeting the oral health of Young New Jerseyans. One project will look at the prevalence of occlusal caries, and the outcome of treatment if it is provided in a timely manner. The second will focus on why African-American teens are more susceptible to developing juvenile periodontal disease. The third study, which will be conducted at the Methany School in Peapack, will test the use of special power toothbrushes to provide physically challenged youngsters with better dental health.
In December, the University honored 19 scientists whose research received a U.S. patent during the 2000 academic year at our first Inventors Award Dinner. Remarkably, UMDNJ faculty now bring a new invention disclosure to our Patent and Licensing Office roughly every four working days. In the 2001 academic year, UMDNJ faculty received 17 patents, signed 9 license agreements and has 3 more in progress.
The University also sponsored our first business development fair in April to showcase technology developed by UMDNJ faculty and 10 UMDNJ spin-off companies.
The University has launched two biotech start-up companies established through the research of UMDNJ faculty. PTC Therapeutics has set new records in venture capital fundraising, attracting $57 million in funding to advance its goal of bringing to market new drugs focused on infectious disease, oncology, inflammation and genetic disorders. The development of new drugs, vaccines, nutriceuticals, and food supplements is the focus of BioDelivery Sciences International, the first University spin-off company to go public in New Jersey.
In addition to our basic research, we are ambitiously pursuing the expansion of our clinical research programs. While University faculty are engaged in conducting between 300 and 500 clinical trials at any given time, we believe this is an arena where huge growth is possible, particularly in view of our location in a state often called the nation's medicine chest. Over the past few years, UMDNJ has provided more than $2 million to support this effort. In June, the Board of Trustees approved the creation of the Institute for Clinical Research and Training. The Institute provides a single point of entry to clinical research at the University.
As part of that effort, we filed a proposal with the National Institutes of Health requesting $16.8 million to establish a General Clinical Research Center in June and a few weeks ago we hosted the site visit. The mission of the GCRC will be to promote, assist and develop high quality NIH-sponsored clinical research and training at New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. This is another important example of the University's intra-institutional collaborations in addition to our many joint inter-university programs. We expect to hear whether we have been selected sometime next month. Now for a look at our accomplishments in education over the past year. I have already noted with great pride the induction of 11 new faculty members into the Master Educators Guild. You have also heard about the Guild's successful conference on the role of technology in education, its new web site and our new commencement tradition of having Guild members leading the University's academic procession. In April, one of our Master Educators, Dr. Elaine Patterson of the School of Nursing, received an award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology at the 13th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning.
I am proud to note that in a year of tight budgetary restraints, UMDNJ has held its tuition increase to 4.5 per cent for the current academic year, the lowest of all the senior public institutions of higher education statewide.
Two of our schools received accreditation from their respective national accrediting bodies this past year. This was the first application from the School of Public Health and the first multi-campus multi-university institution nationwide to be so accredited. In addition, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School received a full eight-year accreditation from the Liaison Committee for Medical Education.
The University was also named the recipient of a prestigious five-year $2.7 million operational phase grant from the National Library of Medicine for Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems. IAIMS sites represent an elite group of the nation's health sciences universities that have demonstrated a strong commitment to and breakthrough thinking in the application of information technology to all dimensions of their mission. Since the initiation of the IAIMS program in 1984, the National Library of Medicine has awarded only 11 operational grants.
All of our schools are in the process of curriculum revision and I commend them for their initiatives. Let me cite just one example. Our School of Health Related Professions has taken a national leadership role in health professions education. The school has designed and implemented 65 on-line courses, a number that places it well ahead of its colleague institutions. The faculty is currently developing selected graduate level courses in Spanish as part of an agreement with the University of Puerto Rico. The school is the first of its type nationwide to make a doctorate in health sciences available via the web.
One more note about academic accomplishments. The Classes of 2001 and 2002 in the School of Nursing's joint program with Middlesex County College each had a 100 percent pass rate on the national board examinations, and were ranked first nationwide among all the graduating classes in associate degree programs.
The Robert Wood Johnson Medical School held the first Humanism in Medicine induction ceremony in the nation last May. Fourteen members of the Class of 2002 selected by their peers were inducted into this new honor society for their compassion, kindness and dedication to the care of patients. Established by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Humanism in Medicine program will soon be established at most if not all U.S. medical schools.
A major clinical goal of the University is its development of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey as a statewide University Center of Excellence. I am proud to report that we are making great progress on all three regional campuses. In southern New Jersey, our School of Osteopathic Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School/ Camden are working together with Cooper University Medical Center and Kennedy Medical Center to plan for a major integrated cancer program as part of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
A topping off ceremony for a new $71 million 150,000 square foot cancer building on the New Brunswick campus of the University was held in July. The new building will triple the current square footage of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and provide critically needed space for clinical care and research activities. In the six years since the current building opened, patient visits have exceeded 225,000. The completion of the expansion will allow CINJ to accommodate 60,000 to 70,000 patient visits annually.
We also announced that a $100 million cancer research and treatment center will be built on the Newark campus. Construction will begin shortly. Newark presents a distinctive opportunity for expansion of CINJ's research and clinical care related to minority populations.
In March we opened the new University Behavioral Health Sciences Building on the Newark campus. The new 120,000 square-foot building houses University Behavioral HealthCare and the New Jersey Medical School Department of Psychiatry. It provides a 30 percent increase in space for programs that have grown significantly since UBHC's opening in 1970.
UBHC is also establishing the Lilly UMDNJ Center of Excellence in Psychiatry with a $2.5 million contract from the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company. This new initiative is a result of the dedicated efforts of Mr. Christopher Kosseff, president and CEO of University Behavioral HealthCare. The first such program in the nation, clinicians from behavioral health agencies all over the United States will be trained in the use of innovative techniques to treat individuals with chronic mental illness.
A two-year construction project at University Hospital to upgrade the state's busiest Emergency Department was recently completed. The additional 7,800 square feet now accommodates adult, pediatric, and psychiatric services and improves our ability to fast-track patients. The hospital also has a new affiliation agreement with Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons to bring the latest cardiac procedures to Northern New Jersey and has initiated a new stroke education campaign called "Minutes Matter--Call 911."
The New Jersey Dental School has signed a memorandum of agreement with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to serve as the oral dental health consultant to New Jersey's elementary and secondary schools.
A behavioral therapy program developed by Dr. Esther Deblinger and her colleagues at the Center for Children's Support at the School of Osteopathic Medicine, was named an "Exemplary Award" winner selected this year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This program encourages parents or caregivers to participate in a treatment approach that helps their children who have suffered sexual abuse overcome post traumatic stress disorder. The center's program was one of 25 selected nationally to receive the award and the only one in New Jersey.
Now for a look at our progress in the area of community service and diversity. In February, Senator Jon Corzine and Congressmen Donald Payne and Robert Menendez held a news conference to announce a $200,000 federal appropriation for our newly established Institute to Eliminate Health Disparities, which is based in the School of Public Health. It was one of only 14 such grants presented in the nation. We have also named the executive director of the institute, Dr. Diane Brown, a nationally expert in minority health issues. One of the first public activities of the Institute was its sponsorship of the well-attended New Jersey Legislative Black, Latino and Asian Caucus in June.
In another initiative, the University is proud to be involved in is the revitalization plan for Camden. As part of the plan, UMDNJ will be building a
free-standing multi-use facility of approximately 54,000 to 60,000 square feet adjacent to Cooper Hospital/ University Medical Center. The facility will house academic, clinical and research programs of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and provide new space for the School of Public Health.
In the near future, University Behavioral HealthCare will announce a new program in conjunction with the New Jersey Education Association. It is a crisis hotline for all school personnel and staffed by retired teachers trained by UBHC. This program is modeled on UBHC's highly successful Cop-2-Cop program begun almost two years ago. Last year Cop-2-Cop, which is staffed by clinicians who are former police officers and retired police volunteers, saw a 300 percent increase in calls to the crisis hotline.
In another initiative, UBHC and the City of Trenton announced a newly strengthened partnership to provide primary care and behavioral health services to medically underserved populations in the City of Trenton and Mercer County. This partnership provides an opportunity for Trenton and UMDNJ to offer training programs to health professionals in order to provide effective care to hard-to-reach populations through a community-based health center.
The Violence Institute of New Jersey unveiled a new web-based inventory for aggression assessment. This database provides psychologists and clinicians access to more than 200 instruments to assess violence, aggressive attitudes and other problem behaviors among children and adolescents.
The New Jersey Poison Information and Education System moved to the Newark campus of UMDNJ earlier this year. The staff works along side our Emergency Medical Services team, and is the only such center in the country to be integrated into EMS. Last year the center handled more than 115,000 calls.
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School graduate and faculty member Dr. Jeffrey Brenner established the Save-A-Life program in Camden in response to the slaying of a Rutgers student 18 months ago. The program has provided about 800 Camden residents affiliated with day care centers, schools, churches and community organizations with training in CPR and basic first aid.
Our fifth strategic goal concerns the building of the University's image statewide and nationally. As you travel between campuses, I hope you all have noticed upgraded signs with the new University logo. On the Newark campus, we also installed 15 foot tall letters on the Bergen Building so that our presence is visible not only to Newark residents, but also to people flying into Newark Airport or traveling the city's streets and highways. To further enhance our research program, we increased the number of published issues of our award-winning University research publication which is sent to prestigious scientists and grant-making institutions nationwide, and introduced the University's virtual tour to the UMDNJ web site which generated more than 8,000 visits in its first four months. We also developed and produced an intensified student recruitment campaign which generated a 30 per cent increase in response compared to the previous year.
All of this takes money and I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to tell you about the successful year for the Foundation of UMDNJ. The number of individuals making contributions to the Foundation increased seven-fold in 2001. Our foundation was only one of a handful of university foundations nationwide to manage an endowment that increased rather than decreased in this down market. The Foundation's 15.5 percent growth to just over $140 million, was the largest increase of New Jersey institutions and the 14th largest increase of 610 colleges and universities nationwide.
In closing, UMDNJ is one of the fastest growing and most well-recognized comprehensive, free-standing public health science universities in the nation. In a relatively short period of time the University has established itself as a contemporary leader in American health science education. By its peers and nationally recognized standards, UMDNJ has, over the past three decades, steadily improved its rank, stature and recognition in several fields of medical, dental and allied health education. But we can't rest on our laurels. We need to continue to be an institution that will provide the highest quality educational programs, cutting edge research, and humane state-of-the-art patient care; an institution that will produce innovative ideas for the public good, while maintaining its fundamental commitments to academic freedom and research integrity.
As you can see, I have high expectations for our university and I hope you share these aspirations. UMDNJ has had a great past and will have an even greater future because of the commitment of its Board of Trustees, its faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends. I thank you all for your past contributions and look forward to serving as your president in the coming year.