University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Dean Thomas Boat, MD, challenged faculty, staff and students to "think big and think boldly” as he delivered an update to the College of Medicine faculty and staff, Thursday, Nov. 8.
Boat, also vice president for health affairs at UC, gave his presentation at Kresge Auditorium in the Medical Sciences Building. Titled "UC College of Medicine: Progress and Plans,” it was an update on his 2011 presentation, "Upward Trajectory: The UC College of Medicine.” Boat became dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for health affairs July 1, 2011.
Amid the many challenges UC shares with medical schools nationwide, Boat said, it’s important to "think big and think boldly.”
"If we are going to be players, we have to think in terms of big science,” he said. As an example, he noted recent scientific advances showing obesity as a major risk factor for cancer. The UC Cancer Institute, the college’s Department of Environmental Health and the Cincinnati Diabetes and Obesity Center are all stellar College of Medicine programs and could work cooperatively on cancer risk mitigation initiatives.
"There are already conversations going on that are asking the question: Can we be a leader in this area of cancer, all the way from basic research up to prevention and intervention studies. This is the kind of thought process we will need to advance rapidly in the future.”
Boat reminded attendees that the College of Medicine’s overarching mission is to improve health outcomes through all three of its missions: teaching, research and clinical care. "We will increasingly do this for Cincinnati, for the region, for the nation and internationally,” he said.
He pointed out that in last year’s presentation, he noted several goals, including becoming the preferred destination for medical students, graduate students, residents and postdoctoral fellows, becoming a regional center of choice for patients with complex chronic disease in partnership with UC Health and joining the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Michigan and Washington University as the top Midwestern biomedical research centers.
"I said what was going to be needed was transformational change, and that’s still true,” he said. "But that transformation can occur in increments. If we take a giant step each year we can transform what we do over the next five to 10 years.”
Boat, pointing to progress in medical education, included a special salute to Bruce Giffin, PhD, a professor in the medical education department, who was recently named the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) 2012 Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award winner. Overall, he said, the multiple mini interview (MMI) approach for admissions and the integrated curriculum have been successful, winning raves from students and serving as models of innovation.
In addition, Boat said, Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores and grade point averages for incoming students have both trended upward.
Boat said that, following internal and external reviews of all UC research-based doctoral programs, three at the College of Medicine have been targeted for "major enhancement.” The university is putting up $1.8 million in additional money into graduate education and some of that funding will go to PhD programs in molecular and developmental biology, neurosciences and systems biology.
Boat cited two new master’s programs, in public health and safety pharmacology, and noted that the Master of Public Health program is poised to grow from 40 to 200 students in the next two years.
To continue education progress, Boat cited the need to update and standardize all of the college’s websites, secure more money for scholarships and improve diversity. Also, he said he would like to see a simulation center that could be used by all of UC’s health colleges and an enhanced premed program at UC involving medicine faculty, which would establish an important pipeline to the College of Medicine.
In the area of research, Boat said that stronger research infrastructure has been established at the College of Medicine under Senior Associate Dean for Research Stephen Strakowski, MD, and that a research strategic plan led by Strakowski will soon be distributed.
Reorganization of the infrastructure in the basic science departments has freed up more money to go back into the individual department programs, Boat said, adding, "Basic science is getting our attention, and we’ll find ways of making sure there’s a return on investment.”
Boat also cited the refocusing of the Department of Cancer and Cell Biology—recently renamed Cancer Biology—with the goal of working as a component of the UC Cancer Institute, and the new Department of Biomedical Informatics. Additionally, he highlighted expanded research informatics efforts under the direction of John Hutton, MD, associate dean for information services and former College of Medicine dean.
Clinical faculty and programs are growing, Boat said, adding, "The integration process of University of Cincinnati Physicians with UC Health has given us a platform on which to build.” Major programs are launched or in development in cancer, women’s health, critical care and laboratory medicine.
In the area of administration, Boat said, progress has been made in centralization of management, aided by better use of data for mission-based budgeting. The administration has put a priority on defining the role and organizational structure of institutes, such as the UC Neuroscience Institute and the UC Cancer Institute. A strategic plan will be created for a UC Cardiovascular Institute in 2013.
Dwindling revenue sources continue to present a challenge, Boat said, highlighting the need for increased philanthropic support. He added that he will continue to foster strong relationships with alumni to encourage their support of the college.
Boat commended new UC President Santa Ono, PhD, and reported that he and the College of Medicine are being expected to play a bigger role in the university and UC Health. "Creating a high-functioning Academic Health Center is going to be important,” Boat said, with his title of vice president of health affairs taking on more significance.
A health affairs organizational structure, Boat said is being developed with the deans from all health colleges playing a significant role. Expectations include increased collaborations in research and education among the four health colleges.
Boat concluded by summarizing the ingredients of rocket-like progress with program planning and investment dollars at its base and programs of distinction and institutional recognition at its top.
"This is the trajectory that we should aspire to,” he said, "and it’s going to take every one of us to buy into this concept,” and make contributions of substantial institutional value.
Watch the full video of Boat's presentation here.