Setting New Priorities for Fundamental Biomedical Science

VP&S has begun a year-long process to identify the scientific priorities of the medical school’s basic science departments and institutes to ensure that VP&S continues to advance the cutting edge of discovery. The prioritization also will inform investments in space, technology, and other resources and promote collaboration and coordination across the medical school.

“Over the past 200 years, VP&S has been at the forefront of transformative scientific discovery and the creation of new scientific fields,” said Katrina Armstrong, MD, dean, in announcing steps for setting scientific priorities. “To sustain our leadership, I have asked our department chairs and directors to develop new ways to nurture and promote our research enterprise. How do we engage new voices in these discussions? How do we create a more inclusive and dynamic research operation, one that breaks down silos and brings different groups together to accelerate groundbreaking discoveries? As we build upon our success and address our challenges, our goal is to organize ourselves thoughtfully, create synergy and support among our faculty, and, importantly, ensure that we are building a system that allows the next generation of scientists to thrive.”

Dr. Armstrong created a VP&S Scientific Research Advisory Committee comprised of basic science researchers across the school to advise the dean and leadership on developing new models of recruitment, enhancing the competitiveness of current faculty, redesigning graduate programs and physician-scientist training, and setting scientific priorities. Each of the 12 committee members will serve two-year terms, creating an important conduit between basic science faculty and decision-making.

In its first phase, the committee will focus on fundamental science by reviewing practices for recruiting tenure-track and tenured research faculty members so recruitment is aligned with scientific priorities and prioritizing investment to ensure that all faculty members are placed in an ideal setting to succeed. The committee also will advise on the ways the new Roy and Diana Vagelos Institute for Biomedical Research Education can transform graduate biomedical science education and physician-scientist training.

As part of the review of basic research, an Afternoon of Science Series began in June to give basic science departments and institutes an opportunity to present their research and outline a vision for future work. The first two sessions featured the Department of Genetics & Development and the Institute for Cancer Genetics.

Research priority setting extends to clinical and translational research. Between 2013 and 2022, funding for human subjects research increased from $141.7 million to $405.5 million, clinical trial revenue grew from $15.3 million to $59.7 million, and the number of new industry-sponsored clinical trials increased from 216 to 360. Muredach Reilly, MD, director of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, in his expanded role as vice dean for clinical and translational research will oversee the growth of clinical and translational research.