President’s Letter

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. Our competitive success stems from a collaborative culture and a commitment to compassion that keeps the university true to its mission to “create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.”

Today, Emory is a place where students gain the critical thinking skills to set them on a path of lifelong learning and leadership. It is a place where theoretical and basic science researchers, alongside scholars in our undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, make discoveries that improve lives. It is a place that relentlessly pursues knowledge across disciplinary boundaries and constantly finds innovative ways to teach and advance learning.

Most important, Emory is a place that is called on for answers to the most challenging and complicated questions of our day. What are the roles and responsibilities of research universities? How do we bring institutional history, capacity, and values into addressing contemporary social, economic, and cultural challenges? How do we lead during times of transformation in higher education — or, for that matter, during times of dramatic transformation in the world at large? How can we foster respectful, ongoing dialogue in a divided society?

This annual report for 2016 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.

There is perhaps no better example of Emory’s global reach than the work being done here to combat Zika virus. Even as the world was just learning about the mosquito-borne disease that’s been linked to an alarming rise of birth defects among babies in northern Brazil, Emory researchers were already hard at work to study and contain the virus. In the past year, Emory has helped deepen understanding of the disease, pinpointing how it can infect and replicate in the placenta, working to identify and develop antivirals to treat the infection, studying mosquito transmission and surveillance, and hosting an international conference to encourage scientific collaboration and education.

Closer to home and demonstrating commitment to our own community, we have launched the Emory Healthy Aging Study. It is the largest-ever clinical research study in Atlanta, with a goal of enrolling 100,000 people during the next four years. The study will help researchers better understand what happens as we age and lead to more effective treatments and methods to prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and more. At the same time, this report must be — and is — forward-looking, reflecting Emory’s continual quest for the new knowledge needed to advance our world and improve lives.

Recently, the Winship Cancer Institute earned the prestigious comprehensive cancer center designation from the National Cancer Institute, placing it among the top 1 percent of all cancer centers in the United States. This elite designation recognizes how Winship’s outstanding programs are reducing the cancer burden on the state of Georgia through its innovative research, clinical trial programs, and population-based science.

Our university is characterized by a commitment to academic excellence, service to humanity, and relevance in the rapidly changing landscape of higher education and society at large. We also must ensure broad and deep engagement with the world for the good of all its citizens. We do so by bringing together the most inspired minds to collaborate in ways that only Emory can, by serving as an incubator for research and a driver for innovation, and by building character in the students we educate.

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.

Claire E. Sterk