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2016 Annual Report of the President

Letter from Emory University President Claire E. Sterk

A Remarkable Year

Reflecting its standing as a top research university, Emory competes to offer the best education, conduct game-changing research, inspire creative innovations, and transform the world.

Emory is a place that is called upon for answers to the most challenging and complicated questions of our day. . . . This annual report looks back over the past year, highlighting the ways in which Emory has approached and offered solutions to those questions. It shares the stories of Emory’s global and local impact, of creating knowledge and educating the next generation, of transforming society, and of caring and healing.

With the right people aligned behind a common purpose, we will forge a future worthy of our ambition to answer challenging questions through the pursuit of knowledge.



The reach of Emory scholars and students knows no boundaries.

From far-reaching contributions in the field and laboratory to humanitarian service and innovative new scholarship, the impact of Emory researchers and students is felt around the world every day.

Whether unraveling the mysteries of infectious diseases or monitoring the impact of climate change, studying the intersections of health and human behavior or aiding sustainable economic development in Nicaragua’s coffee-growing communities, Emory is at the forefront in addressing critical global challenges.

Emory researchers are solving problems on a global scale, fighting to reduce child mortality rates, vanquish parasitic diseases, and develop new vaccines to prevent infection from the Zika virus, while our students are gaining a firsthand global outlook through international internships, academic exchanges, and study abroad experiences.

Not only is Emory making a difference on the global stage through engagement in science, scholarship, and service, it’s preparing students to meet the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly interconnected world.

The Front Lines of Zika

Even as the world was just learning about the Zika virus, Emory researchers were already hard at work to study and contain the mosquito-borne disease that’s been linked to an alarming rise in birth defects among babies born in northern Brazil.


Emory's International Humanitarian Law Clinic strives to uphold the law of war.


After afflicting the world's poorest for centuries, Guinea worm disease soon may be wiped out.


Reducing child mortality

An Emory-led network seeks to better understand and prevent childhood deaths in Africa and Asia.


Global internships position undergraduates to succeed in business around the world.


Through the Global Virus Network, Emory works to combat current and emerging pandemic threats.


Caring and

Through leading-edge research, innovative patient care, and nationally acclaimed teaching, Emory is transforming the health care experience.

With a mission rooted in excellence, caring, and integrity, Emory is committed to serving our community and beyond — educating today’s health professionals and tomorrow’s leaders, providing care guided by the most advanced research, pioneering life-changing new treatments, improving outcomes, and building hope.

Emory is the only integrated academic health care system in the region that leverages the power of onsite research to advance discovery, improve health, and save lives, providing patients with the most comprehensive and compassionate care possible. Harnessing the power of an expansive network of caregivers, researchers, educators, and students, collaboration is the core of the healing experience.

Research plays a key role in advancing that care. In FY 2016, Emory researchers received $574.6 million from external funding agencies — the largest amount of research funding in the history of the university and the seventh consecutive year that research funding has exceeded $500 million.

Increasingly, external funding supports collaborative research that bridges multiple schools and departments within Emory, leading to innovations in strategies to prevent and cure HIV/AIDS, create drugs to treat infections caused by emerging viral threats, address the impact of environmental effects on children’s health, and develop new cancer treatments, among many advances.

Emory Healthy Aging Study

To better understand aging and age-related diseases, Emory researchers have launched the Emory Healthy Aging Study — the largest clinical research study ever conducted in Atlanta.

During the next four years, the unprecedented new study seeks to enroll 100,000 people to examine what happens as we age with the aim of developing more effective methods to treat and prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, and help people lead longer, happier lives.


Advances in cancer care

With the development of new drug therapies and a national reputation for innovative research, education, and patient care, Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute is changing lives.


Confronting the HIV epidemic

Emory's leadership in the fight against HIV spans decades, from public health research to pioneering breakthroughs in treatments and the search for a vaccine.

Emory physicians, scientists, and educators have played a key role in HIV/AIDS discovery and treatment from the earliest days of the epidemic. Emory researchers invented HIV/AIDS drugs currently used by more than 94 percent of US patients and thousands more globally.


Researchers make the case that a vaccine against rhinoviruses, the predominant cause of the common cold, is achievable.


A study of kidney transplant recipients has shown for the first time that the drug belatacept improves patient and organ survival.


Our service in gratitude for theirs

Veterans and their families form a vital part of the Emory community, which invests in them as students, sees to their needs in the Atlanta metro region and beyond, and trains current and future health care providers to provide them the best in specialized care.



At Emory, our curiosity fuels research, innovation, and advancement — nurturing new discoveries and a world of possibilities.

Inspired by folk remedies, an Emory ethnobotanist discovers that leaves of a European chestnut tree have the power to disarm dangerous staph bacteria without boosting its drug resistance.

Teams of interdisciplinary researchers begin to unravel the complexities of how inflammation in the brain affects stubborn cases of depression. On a tiny island in the North Aegean Sea, an archaeologist deciphers fragments of an ancient and mysterious world.

Discoveries happen every day at Emory, guided by acclaimed faculty experts and leading researchers who bring their passions into the classroom. Increasingly, those opportunities for research and discovery are opening to graduate and undergraduate students, too.

With resources that include dedicated libraries and laboratories, and partnerships and projects around the globe, Emory students and researchers are forging a new world of connection, knowledge, and discovery that has enriched the intellectual arena.

Battling antibiotic resistance

Penicillin was hailed as a “miracle drug” when it went into widespread use in the early 1940s, and with good reason. Before then, even simple infections frequently led to more serious illness, even death. With the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in recent years, medical science could find itself back at square one again — but Emory researchers are determined to prevent that from happening.


Emory researchers explore ancient Sanctuary of the Great Gods

A devout religious cult. Secret initiation rites. Imposing marble monuments. Led by archaeologist Bonna Wescoat, an Emory team has become the world's leading experts on the mysterious sanctuary on the Greek island of Samothrace.


Last volume of Samuel Beckett's letters celebrated at Emory

After almost three decades, Emory's Laney Graduate School and the Letters of Samuel Beckett Project mark the publication of the fourth and final volume in their series bringing the acclaimed writer's correspondence to the world.


Emory's Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library offers a treasure trove for researchers, adding multiple collections during the past year.


Inflammation linked to weakened reward circuits in depression


Nano-walkers leap forward with first rolling DNA-based motor

Physical chemists have devised a rolling DNA-based motor that's 1,000 times faster than any other synthetic DNA motor, giving it potential for real-world applications such as disease diagnostics.


Learning to love our bugs

The countless microorganisms that live inside us are more important than we realized as symbiotic partners in health.


Educating the Next Generation

What is a classroom? At Emory, it’s anywhere and everywhere.

Whether conducting original research in a state-of-the-art laboratory, volunteering at a Jamaican health center, investigating a civil rights–era murder in rural Georgia, or serving on a political campaign, Emory students are learning wherever they go.

As a leading research university anchored in the liberal arts and with a deep tradition of academic excellence, educating curious minds is what we do best.

In the classroom and beyond, our faculty and students are taking the educational experience in bold new directions, fueled by innovative, interdisciplinary scholarship, hands-on research, and experiential learning opportunities that make an impact.

From opportunities for deep inquiry through First-Year Seminars to the challenge of University Courses, which encourage the intensive multidisciplinary exploration of a topic, along with the practical experience of internships, service learning, and study abroad opportunities, Emory students are forging new pathways to discovery.

Students find long-lost grave of Georgia man killed for voting in 1948

At six years old, Dorothy Nixon Williams watched as two white men shot her father to death. Her family fled to Florida and his grave was lost to time — until, almost 70 years later, it was found by students in Emory's Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project.


Labs offer more than a 'recipe' for success

Seeing the impact of teaching science differently to undergraduates has been a cause for excitement at both Emory College and Oxford College. Even better, success has come as a result of conversation — and, yes, experimentation — on the part of engaged faculty on both campuses.


Faith and Politics students take leadership in new directions

Students who completed Robert Franklin's Faith and Politics course knew they would get in-depth exposure to how politics and faith interact. What most didn't expect was that it would mark a turning point in understanding their calling as leaders.


Supporting STEM pathways

Across the landscape of higher education, interest in STEM fields is on the rise. And Emory stands ready to fuel the focus.


Emory selected for AMA consortium to create medical school of the future

Emory University is among 20 medical schools chosen to join the Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium.



The impact of Emory scholars and students ripples out into the world in ever-widening rings.

Our medical breakthroughs and public health partnerships are combining to heal and save lives. Programs nurtured here on campus are helping to pioneer new strategies in environmental sustainability. Research rooted at Emory on the intersection of race and difference has provided important insights into US culture and politics.

And just as the Emory experience changes the lives of students, so our students are becoming change agents in their own right — stepping into service work, internships, and careers where their voices are making a difference in meeting challenges, changing lives, and solving real-world problems.

Shaped by our mission to apply knowledge in the service of humanity, the Emory community is literally helping define the contours of the 21st century.

Denial brings professor's battle for historical truth to big screen

With the release of the feature film Denial, Emory professor Deborah Lipstadt reflects upon her landmark legal battle against a Holocaust denier and Emory's support as she fought to uphold historical truth. Lipstadt (right) is portrayed by Academy Award–winning actress Rachel Weisz in the film.


Bold research on race

Emory scholars have earned national attention with their unflinching research into issues of race, culture, and politics.


Emory Integrity Project invites community conversation

From chalkboards across campus to dining tables, residence halls, and classrooms, students are invited to grapple with important questions: What is integrity? What does it look like? How do you build a true culture of integrity at Emory?


Celebrated theologian Jürgen Moltmann (left) comes to Emory to explore "Unfinished Worlds."


Sustainability shapes research, campus conservation, and innovation.


in Atlanta

For more than a century, Emory has found a home in Atlanta. But far more than a mere address, the university has also found a place here — a deep, symbiotic partnership.

Whether it is contributing faculty expertise in confronting local health challenges or engaging with government and civic groups and partnering with businesses, Emory considers Atlanta not only a valued neighbor but also a living laboratory for engaged learning.

It’s a relationship that serves Atlanta even as it enriches the Emory experience. Each year, our collaborations with the city provide new opportunities for research and scholarship for our faculty — the chance to forge stronger connections within many corners of the greater metropolitan region.

Through courses that promote hands-on learning and deep-rooted community volunteer programs, Emory students are also giving back, helping improve local conditions through service to our neighbors in areas such as the arts and culture, health and healing, and religion and social justice.

It’s all part of Emory’s longstanding mission to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity — a challenge that we embrace both at home and afar.

Emory Sports Medicine Complex breaks ground

In June, the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and Emory Healthcare broke ground on the Emory Sports Medicine Complex, a state-of-the-art facility located on Executive Park Drive and the newly minted Hawks Lane.


Welcoming the community for Shakespeare's First Folio

Last fall, a literary treasure came to campus when Emory was selected as the only Georgia site to display Shakespeare's First Folio. The national traveling exhibit from the Folger Shakespeare Library featured displays in all 50 states to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the bard's death.


Emory-Georgia Tech partnership fuels an engine of innovation

With complementary strengths, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology are unlocking new research and medical advances through a vibrant partnership.


Accelerator program supports promising businesses in marginalized Atlanta communities

Developed through Emory's Goizueta Business School, the Start:Micro-Entrepreneur Accelerator Program aims to increase neighborhood vitality by supporting entrepreneurs in Clarkston and East Lake with small business loans and mentorship.


New initiative will prepare high school students for health science careers

Funded by a three-year, $1.8 million grant, the new Emory Pipeline Collaborative aims to help economically disadvantaged students from five Atlanta high schools prepare for health careers by providing vital academic and social support.