Interim Dean Duane Compton
2015 End of Year Message
December 10, 2015
Dear Alumni and Friends,
As the year draws to a close, I pause to reflect and to provide you with an update from our medical school and some highlights of the past year.
Since stepping into the role of interim dean 18 months ago, my top priority has been to ensure the continued success of our research and education programs while addressing the ongoing financial challenge the medical school faces. Like many academic medical centers, we have seen our revenue streams become ever more constrained (and even decline). Working with the strong support of Dartmouth College leadership, we have taken a deliberate approach to this challenge and are mid-way through a three-year plan of action.Initially, we enacted a series of steps to curtail expenses in our central administration, which brought much-needed stability to our annual budget. We are now making changes to our academic programs to close an ongoing operating deficit. These include the creation of a new Department of Medical Education to focus our resources on a cadre of faculty devoted to a scholarly approach to outstanding training of our medical students. We are also reorganizing our basic science departments to create a more focused group of faculty with an emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to scientific discovery. Finally, we are working hand-in-glove with the leadership at Dartmouth-Hitchcock to develop the most efficient way to support the clinical academic enterprise.
During this time of change, I want to emphasize that preserving and promoting our strongest academic programs is the top priority. The actions we are taking to address our financial challenge are necessary for the long-term success of our school, but I know that these changes can be disorienting to students, faculty, and staff. Through a series of “town hall” meetings and many other conversations in recent months, I have sought to openly communicate with all members of our community about the changes we are making and why, and to solicit their input. In the course of those conversations I am sometimes asked how the Geisel gift figures into our plans. We anticipate that this gift will expand our aspirations for our school, and we must work now to get our fiscal house in order to ensure that when it is received, it has the strongest impact.While we work toward completing the changes I’ve described here, our students and faculty, as well as our strengths in medical education and research, give us much to be proud of. Below are a few highlights of the past year.
I was extremely gratified this fall to receive a letter from the LCME (the medical school accreditation body) informing us that our school is fully compliant with all accreditation standards and elements. Our next full review will not be until 2020-2021. Our success in this formal review process provides confirmation of the strength of our medical education program, and I thank Dr. Rand Swenson (Chair, Department of Anatomy) for leading our school through this detailed reaccreditation process.
I am also excited about enhancements to the curriculum we have implemented this academic year, which draw upon our strengths in health care delivery science through The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI). This fall we introduced the first of a series of courses that train our students to measure the effectiveness of healthcare systems and in core aspects of population health. Leading medical residency directors across the country have shared with us that these augmentations to our curriculum will provide our graduates with skills that are highly valued for today’s residency programs.
These curricular enhancements place us at the forefront in graduating physicians who excel in basic sciences, deliver outstanding clinical care, discover and share new knowledge, and work to improve systems of healthcare delivery. This is reflected in our residency match results, which last spring saw our students chosen for some of the most competitive and selective medical residency training programs.
Thus, it is no surprise that our medical school continues to attract some of the best and brightest young people. Last year we received almost 6,000 applications for 92 spots in the incoming MD class of 2019. Our students are routinely recognized for national awards and this year was no exception, with Luca Valle ’17 being selected for the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program and Jose “Tito” Porras ’18 named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellow. Among our graduate students, MD-PhD student Yike Jiang received the Priscilla Schaffer Award, PhD candidate Lin Deng received the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad, and PhD candidate Megan O’Connor received the American Association of Immunologists inaugural Careers in Immunology Fellowship Award.
The faculty in our clinical departments also continue to shine. Recently, Dr. Hal Swartz was named Distinguished Investigator of the Academy of Radiological Research, Dr. Petra Lewis was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Radiology, Dr. John Butterly was named President of the New Hampshire Medical Society, and a group of faculty, students and staff from the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD) received the AAMC’s Clinical Care Innovation Challenge Award for improvement of the care of opioid-exposed newborns.
In our basic science programs we enjoyed equal success this year. In October we dedicated the new Williamson Translational Research Building on the Lebanon, NH, campus. This beautifully designed building physically integrates the Rubin and Borwell research buildings with Dartmouth-Hitchcock and will serve as home to our translational research programs, including cancer and healthcare delivery science, as well as provide space for Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s clinical pathology and connected care (i.e. telehealth) programs. The strength of our basic science programs was further evidenced by numerous awards and accolades for our faculty and students. These include Dr. Giovanni Bosco (Genetics) receiving an NIH Pioneer Award; Dr. Lisa Marsch (Psychiatry) receiving two awards from NIH to support the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health, one of which launches the Northeast Node of the National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network; and Dr. Ron Taylor (Microbiology & Immunology) successfully renewing the NIH INBRE grant to support biomedical research development throughout the state of New Hampshire.
The Dartmouth Institute is also at the forefront of our academic activities. In June, it was named one of only three National Centers of Excellence to study Health Care Delivery Outcomes by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). As director of TDI, Dr. Elliott Fisher was recognized by the Healthcare Financial Management Association for his contributions to health care. TDI is expanding access to its educational offerings with the launch an online Master of Public Health degree program in the fall of 2016. This two-year program will include three, one-week residential periods per year ─ making it a more integrated “hybrid” version of the Institute’s existing residential MPH program.
The Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) was the only northern New England cancer center to be ranked as “high performing” by US News and World Report. Moreover, NCCC Director Dr. Mark Israel led the successful renewal of the Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute, continuing NCCC’s designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. This is the top designation given by NCI for the highest quality patient care, cancer research, cancer prevention, and education of oncologists and researchers.
Perhaps the most inspiring event for me during the past year was the Alumni Awards ceremony this fall. I am so pleased that the Alumni Council has begun a process of formally recognizing our alumni for their many accomplishments. The manifestation of the quality of our educational programs is in our alumni and the impact that they have on the lives of others. I was truly humbled to be able to join in honoring some of our outstanding alumni, and in recognizing what a deep and distinguished community we have built. You can read about this year’s eight honorees here.
I am also pleased to announce that in January we will welcome Julie Bressor as our new Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations. In bringing these two programs together, we are creating a single point of engagement for alumni, whether that be through giving or through participating in any of the many activities that serve to strengthen the bonds of community among our alumni, students, and school. Julie brings more than 15 years of experience in alumni relations and higher education fundraising. I hope you will join me in giving her a warm welcome.
In closing, I would like to thank you for your continued support of our school. Our rural environment, our intimate class size, and the devotion of our faculty to student development combine to create the secret sauce that engenders the sense of community spirit that we all share and treasure. Our aspirations are high for our education and research programs, and I look to you to help us realize them and to share our unique story with the world.
I believe the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth has a bright future, and I’m optimistic about the year ahead. I look forward to more regular communications with the alumni community. My door is always open to you, and I hope you will be in touch if you are in Hanover.
With my best regards,
Duane Compton, PhD
Interim Dean, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth