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Reflecting on 2008

I want to express my appreciation to the faculty, staff, students, alumni and others who made tremendous contributions to the University of Missouri School of Medicine in 2008. As we reflect on reasons to be thankful this holiday season, we should take a moment to recognize our remarkable achievements at MU during the past year.

The School of Medicine helped open four new buildings and start construction on others that support improvements in patient care, education and research. The Schweitzer Hall addition opened in February. The new building created a unified biochemistry complex, new laboratories for biomedical scientists, and facilities for a new high-powered nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, only the second of its generation in the U.S. and the only one in Missouri. In May, we opened the Clinical Support and Education Building in partnership with University of Missouri Health Care. The seven-story structure contains office space for 400 faculty, staff, residents and fellows, as well as the Russell D. and Mary B. Shelden Clinical Simulation Center and Cerner Transformation Forum.

In October, we opened the International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine to support cancer research led by Dr. Fred Hawthorne, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the 2009 Priestly Medal, the highest honor awarded by the American Chemical Society. In November, we joined the College of Veterinary Medicine in opening MU’s new Regional Biocontainment Laboratory. Created with a $13.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the building gives researchers tools to study infectious diseases and assist in public health efforts.

In June, we joined University of Missouri Health Care in breaking ground for a new Missouri Orthopaedic Institute. The institute is part of a plan that includes constructing a new patient care tower, moving Ellis Fischel Cancer Center outpatient services to campus and building a new patient parking garage. In October, we announced that the plan would also include transforming Columbia Regional Hospital into a women and children’s hospital.

The School of Medicine was recognized this year for leading all other schools on campus in helping MU surpass its $1 billion campaign goal. The medical school has raised more than $107 million and exceeded goals for faculty and student support. Launched in 2000, the For All We Call Mizzou campaign met its original goal of $600 million in 2005 with the over-the-top gift provided by Dr. Russell Shelden, an anesthesiologist and graduate of our medical school, and his wife, Mary. When the new goal of $1 billion was surpassed in November 2008, a fellow anesthesiologist and graduate of our medical school, Dr. Ira Hubbell, and his wife, Gail, provided another gift credited with putting the campaign over its goal.

Many alumni and other supporters were incredibly generous in 2008. In March, we celebrated the life and philanthropy of the late Mrs. Margaret Proctor Mulligan. Her gifts to the medical school have established 12 endowed faculty positions and created a breast health and research program named in her honor at Ellis Fischel. In May, we paid tribute to our medical alumni organization president, Dr. Michael Bukstein, and his wife, Sharon, for creating an endowed chair in cancer research. In June, we announced our first endowed department, the Curtis W. and Ann H. Long Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Curtis Long, a graduate of our medical school, and his wife, Ann, of Butler, Mo., are amazing supporters of improving care in rural areas. In October, we received another leadership gift from Tom and Anne Smith of Columbia. Their endowment will provide scholarships for students in our new Tom and Anne Smith MD-PhD Program.

Our educational and research programs continued to make us proud in 2008. In November, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education reaccredited our medical school for eight years, the maximum period that can be granted. I am grateful to the faculty, staff and students who gave thousands of hours to the reaccreditation process, and who work diligently day after day to create excellent medical education programs. Our research efforts focused on leading the development of MU’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, pursuing a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH, and supporting productive scientists. For example, Dr. Deyu Fang with the departments of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology received three NIH grants in September to support research that could lead to a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and other diseases.

We also faced challenges in 2008. Dr. William Crist, who served eight years as dean of our medical school, announced in August that he would leave MU to become vice president for health affairs at the University of Arizona. Although saddened by his departure, MU was strengthened by Dr. Crist’s achievements and positioned to further elevate its health sciences programs. Since October, University of Missouri President Gary Forsee, MU Chancellor Dr. Brady Deaton and Interim Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Dr. Hal Williamson have led a newly consolidated health system at MU. Their attention to the needs and aspirations of the medical school and other health sciences programs gives me confidence that we will overcome economic challenges and begin 2009 with a visionary and coordinated plan for the future.

I am honored to lead the MU School of Medicine as we mark the close of a momentous year, and I look forward to working with all of you to advance medicine at Mizzou. On behalf of the medical school, I wish you a joyous holiday season and a New Year of health, peace and happiness.