Emory Report

 August 25, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 1

Health Sciences research
planning moves forward

More than 30 University leaders and 130 of their Woodruff Health Sciences Center colleagues were invited to participate in a all day retreat Aug. 15 to provide critical feedback to the strategic planning process that will chart the growth and development of research in the Health Sciences Center for the next decade.

Participants heard research plans from the medical, nursing and public health schools and the Yerkes Center. and about issues that affect research across unit lines. Then they broke into 12 groups to discuss the plan's impact on Universitywide collaborations, clinical services and health care delivery, faculty and graduate students, technology transfer that quickly makes scientific discoveries part of real-world medicine, and other issues.

The next steps are to set priorities, further dhare the planning process across key constituencies and give Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Johns an integrated plan for his review and presentation to President Bill Chace and the Woodruff Board of Trustees.

But even before that happens, nothing is ever going to be the same, said steering committee co-chairs Thomas J. Lawley, medical school dean, and Dennis Liotta, vice president for research. "The planning process (which has involved a majority of the researchers across campus) has been as important as the result," said Lawley.

Liotta said that the process has "changed how we do business forever," replacing a "culture of insularity" with one of increased collegiality and shared purpose and programs. Some of the themes that sounded with drumbeat regularity were the value of interdisciplinary work, the need for mechanisms and structures to encourage and reward such efforts, the importance of supporting and encouraging researchers at all levels from students to senior faculty, and strengths and opportunities Emory brings to the research table.

Eight months ago, Johns asked for a "reality-based" research plan to make Emory's health sciences center research programs among the nation's best. The planning process has attempted to define "best" by both quality and quantity, said Lawley and Liotta.

To succeed will mean having the people, programs and infrastructure to conduct research of the highest quality that fits Emory's missions and strengths and the directions of science expected to produce the most meaningful contributions to knowledge and improvement of health and disease treatment in the next century. To succeed also will mean being able to measure progress-partly by specific tangible scientific advances in prioritized areas and partly by general ranking among benchmark institutions of research dollars received from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies.

-Sylvia Wrobel

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