February 04, 2020

Dean’s Message: Forging Ahead in 2020

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First, I’d like to thank all of you who were able to attend or livestream my State of the School address earlier this week. If you were unable to join in, you can visit the State of the School webpage to watch it or to view my slide deck. We had a full house, and it was my pleasure to be able to share our vision for a stronger School of Medicine with all of you.

As we embark upon another year, I’d like to echo some of the sentiments I shared in my address, particularly how we can take our collective impact to the next level. Everything begins with advancing our mission, which comprises three very important areas: education, research, and clinical care. We need to provide excellent training to the next primary care doctors, who will help tackle the burden of disease that we see in the Deep South. At the same time, we want to support the individuals who are going to make the next big discoveries in, say, immunoscience or cancer biology. All the while, we have to push the needle forward in providing excellent care, addressing health disparities, and bringing forward better outcomes. This is no small feat and can be a challenging juggling act, but these areas are the foundation of everything that we do here, and in order to grow our successes even more, we must remain true to those undertakings.

Over the past five years, our growth has been focused on bringing people in, creating programs, and executing getting new grants. At the top of our to-do list now is providing the infrastructure, tools, and opportunities for our science and scientists to be the best in the country. We want to commit to our cores, our labs, our microscopes, etc. to being state-of-the-art, so that our teams can compete on the national level because they’re using the most effective equipment available to answer their research questions.

Additionally, it’s extremely important that we work diligently to affect the health outcomes of citizens not only in Alabama, but also in the Deep South and beyond. As the third largest public hospital in the country, we are capable of touching a lot of patients’ lives. What makes us distinct as a southern state school is that we are research-intensive and committed to pioneering discovery research and translation of that research through clinical trials. Ten thousand people will turn 65 every day for the next ten years, so we are compelled to do the difficult, scientific digging it will take to pioneer treatment options for memory disorders, take our study of cancer biology to the next level, and much more. I’m thrilled that Dr. Barry Sleckman has joined us to lead the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and know that he will drive both excellence in science and clinical care.

Finally, I want to hearken back to two values that should remain at the center of all that we do: our commitment to diversity and inclusion and our desire to positively affect every patient’s life. Diversity and inclusion allow us to be excellent; it helps define who we are. Not only do we want to impact the lives of our patients, we also want to impact the people who serve at UAB because we are an inviting community for them to live, work, and further their lives. And at the end of the day, we want to impact patients. We want to provide focused, patient-centered, outstanding care that will transform patients’ lives through the experience they have as well as the outcomes they receive.

I’m so glad that all of you are a part of this immense and meaningful journey that we are on as one of the country’s leading academic medical centers, and I thank you for your dedication each day.