From The Dean

Adapting in Real Time

This has been a difficult year, one of incredible challenges that were unprecedented and unpredictable.

SOM by the Numbers

565 million dollars in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2020 (444 million dollars in 2019). 14th in NIH dollars (18th in 2019). 15-plus hospitals and institutions, and dozens of outpatient training sites for medical students. 1,322 residents and fellows in 107 accredited programs. 2,967 faculty and 2,715 staff.

Clearly the pandemic created disruptions, but it also offered opportunities for resilience and innovation. In NIH funding, the School of Medicine ranked 14th in the US with $395 million (the best in our history) and 15 of our departments ranked in the top 25, with pediatrics leading among pediatric departments at $97.1 million, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. We received $91 million from the NIH in COVID-19 funding alone, third among universities.

We’ve developed new therapeutics, antivirals, and antibody blood tests for COVID, and conducted human clinical trials of the first COVID vaccines. Faculty have served as public scholars, communicating science-based, accurate information. And our research wasn’t limited to COVID. We examined repurposing drugs for cancer treatment, made advances in personalized medicine, and deepened our understanding of brain health. We gave out a total of 52 Imagine, Innovate, and Impact awards to catalyze and seed faculty research, and the return on investment has been 4:1, with the supported research generating impressive external funding. More than $9.5 million has already come back to the institution. The Health Sciences Research Building II, expected to open next year, includes labs and collaborative spaces for biomedical researchers.

During the pandemic, new methods of online teaching were piloted, from virtual surgical electives to digital anatomy labs. It’s amazing how quickly the curricula and our students adapted in real time. Our telehealth services skyrocketed, and faculty clinicians developed ways for patients to stay in touch with their families despite COVID visitor restrictions. 

Committing to work for a more just future, Emory medical students organized a White Coats for Black Lives vigil, and Emory and Morehouse medical students worked with metro-Atlanta governments to declare racism a public health crisis. SOM faculty and trainees provided frontline care across metro-Atlanta and alumni provided care around the globe. As of May, Emory faculty and staff had administered more than 170,000 COVID vaccine doses, and students and trainees also helped administer vaccines to the community. I couldn’t be more proud to represent Emory School of Medicine and to recognize and support all of the skill, courage, and dedication it embodies. When our communities—indeed, our world—needed you the most, you were there. To all, my heartfelt gratitude.