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For the third year in a row, geriatrics programs based at Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital earned a spot on the USNews & World Report's ranking in its "America's Best Hospitals" issue. But this year, the program leapt 26 slots, capturing the rank of 15th best in the nation.
In addition, Strong Memorial Hospital was recognized in the Hormonal Disorders category, ranking 31st best in the nation, while its Neurology and Neurosurgery program ranked 42nd best. The "Hormonal Disorders" category includes the overall management of diabetic and other metabolic disorders, along with related surgical procedures.
"This recognition is a tribute to all of our faculty and staff who work tirelessly to provide the latest treatments and the very best care to our patients," said C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center. "We are fortunate that in Rochester we have many physicians and medical researchers who are at the forefront of their respective specialties, enabling us to provide a level of care that is nationally recognized."
For the last 16 years, the magazine's "America's Best Hospitals" issue has used a variety of rigorous statistical and/or reputational measures to select the top 50 hospitals in each of 17 specialties. Of the more than 6,000 U.S. hospitals, only 176 were considered of high enough quality to be ranked in even a single specialty this year.
A unique fund to nurture research and technologies that have the potential to lead to new health care products has been established at the University of Rochester Medical Center through a partnership with Johnson & Johnson. On July 11, the Medical Center announced that a "Discovery Concept Fund" is being created to target promising early-stage research generally conducted by junior scientists who have ideas but often do not have ready access to funding.
"World class biomedical research institutions, such as the University of Rochester Medical Center, are engines of innovation," said Ted Torphy, corporate vice president for science and technology at Johnson & Johnson. "The objective of this partnership is to both support this process of discovery and accelerate the translation of research into products for patients. We believe long-term collaborative partnerships between the academic and the private sector will be increasingly important in advancing breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of serious disease. We share the same fundamental goal of bringing better treatment to patients."
The Discovery Concept Fund will be jointly administered by Johnson & Johnson and the University of Rochester Medical Center and will be funded on a renewable basis by Johnson & Johnson.
The fund will solicit proposals from Medical Center scientists with the objective of nurturing early-stage research and technologies that have the potential to impact health care. In doing so, it will target researchers, particularly junior scientists, who often have difficulty competing with their more established colleagues for research grants. Johnson & Johnson has stated that it will not limit the number of meritorious applications it will fund.
"This agreement is truly mutually beneficial," said David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D, dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. "A major problem faced by industry is access to new concepts or novel approaches that lay the foundation for new medical breakthroughs. On the flip side, scientists who have a concept or idea that could provide a solution to a specific problem often lack funding to evaluate and advance their research."
The fund will be governed by a committee consisting of equal members from both the Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson. The committee will oversee the administration of the fund including the solicitation, evaluation and funding of research proposals. Awards will consist of what is termed "no rights" grants. In other words, Johnson & Johnson will have no special rights to any discoveries or patents that arise from research supported by the agreement. All intellectual property rights to the discoveries will be retained by the Medical Center and its inventors.
The potential of this partnership was demonstrated in a separate announcement that the Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson were moving forward on a $1.6 million joint research project. This project will build upon the research of Howard Federoff, M.D., Ph.D, senior associate dean for basic science research at the Medical Center, and Roman Giger, Ph.D, an assistant professor in neurology in the Center for Aging and Developmental Biology, which targets activity in neurons that prevent the repair of the central nervous system following spinal cord injury or trauma to the brain. The application of this process also has the potential to lead to the development of new classes of drugs.
"This is an incredible gift, not only to the Medical Center, but to the entire biomedical research community and to the Greater Rochester region," said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who attended the announcement on July 11. "It is also a great example of what we can achieve when academia and industry work together -- further enhancing Rochester's reputation as a world-class center for biotechnology research, fostering a new generation of scientists and building on the region's growth potential. I look forward to watching this winning partnership thrive."
New University of Rochester President Joel Seligman launched his administration July 1 by outlining some of his first priorities for the University and the community of Rochester. During a press conference to mark his first formal day on the job, Seligman said that he's on a "listening tour" of the University's various schools and departments, as well as with civic, cultural, and business leaders in Rochester.
"I find I always learn more by listening. I've got a lot to learn internally in this University and a lot to learn in the community," he said. While Seligman has spent most of his time to date largely focusing on senior administrators and deans, in the months ahead, he plans to meet with each department chair and with the faculty of each department, as well as with students, administrators, staff, and alumni leaders.
"I want to hear about your work and your thoughts about the state of your University," he added.
Seligman noted that he would like to build an environment that would continue and expand collaboration opportunities between scientists at the Medical Center and on River Campus.
"I see greater potential for interdisciplinary work between the Medical Center and the hard sciences at River Campus," he said. "We must strengthen both sides so that both can build off the successes of the other."
Seligman, the former dean of the law school at Washington University in St. Louis who was named Rochester's 10th president last December, launched his first day with an e-mail message that was distributed to all faculty and staff, in which he outlined his plans to lay the groundwork for the University's largest capital campaign ever.
"This University is deservedly proud of its academic achievements and outstanding programs, but it needs more resources," Seligman said. "Resources matter in higher education. They are the lifeblood that makes possible attracting and training great faculty, scholarships for students, building of new programs, extending existing programs. And for that reason, a capital campaign and ratcheting up our annual giving is of such consequence."
As he outlined his goals, Seligman paid tribute to the leadership of Thomas H. Jackson, president emeritus. "We build on considerable strength," he said. "The legacy of Tom Jackson is that of a president who left the University considerably stronger than when he began."
One of the cornerstones of the Department of Dentistry's community outreach activities, the SMILEmobile Program, has been honored with the Healthcare Association of New York State's (HANYS) prestigious Community Health Improvement Award. Given annually to recognize outstanding initiatives that improve community health and well being in the state, the award marks the second time in four years that a Medical Center program has captured this top honor. In 2002, the Department of Psychiatry's Project Link program won HANYS' Community Health Improvement Award.
A dental office on wheels, the SMILEmobile Program brings oral health services year round to children who would otherwise not have access to much needed dental care. Medical Center dentists, hygienists and dental residents provide comprehensive oral healthcare services on three fully equipped dental vans to children and teens. Each year, Dentistry works with the Rochester City School District and other organizations to select the locations for the SMILEmobile. In 2004, the SMILEmobile provided services to 3,700 children and teens at 15 inner city schools, eight Head Start programs, and three remote rural locations. Since its inception, the program has served an estimated 39,000 people.
"Community outreach is one of the missions of the University of Rochester Medical Center," said C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and Strong Health. "As we continue to grow and expand our community health initiatives, it is fitting that we pay tribute to those programs like the SMILEmobile that have been serving the community for years. I salute the faculty, staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the past three decades to make the SMILEmobile the resounding success that it is."
The program's roots were as a volunteer-based community collaboration jointly led by the Monroe County Dental Society and Eastman Dental, which together introduced New York State's first dental mobile unit in 1967. Less than two years later, recognizing both the success and the continued need for such services, Eastman Dental agreed to oversee all operations of the program. Today, the SMILEmobile Program employs 12 full-time health workers, with each van staffed with a dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant and clinical coordinator.
In addition to the clinical component of the SMILEmobile Program, staff collaborates with the teachers at each school, making available age-appropriate curriculums and in-classroom visits by dental hygienists. Staff also provides continuing education and presents educational seminars during parent nights hosted by the school.
"It is a great honor to be recognized for a program that is clearly making a difference to our community," said Cyril Meyerowitz, D.D.S., M.S., professor and chair of the Eastman Department of Dentistry, and director of Eastman Dental Center. "As the Rochester area's safety net to ensure the underserved in our community have access to oral health care services, we will continue to work to develop programs like the SMILEmobile to serve those most in need."