December 19, 2019

2019 a year of growth, achievements, accolades

The following is a roundup of the news that made headlines at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2019.

Editor’s note — the following is a roundup of the news that made headlines at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2019.


Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital

Vanderbilt University Medical Center completed the acquisition of Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon, a two-campus facility licensed for 245 beds, from subsidiaries of Community Health Systems Inc. (CHS).

The hospital, which is the sole provider of inpatient medical services in Wilson County, is now known as Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital (VWCH).

In Lebanon, the main campus of VWCH is located at 1411 West Baddour Parkway, while the hospital’s second campus, which provides behavioral health and physical rehabilitation services, is located at 500 Park Avenue. The facility at West Baddour Parkway has a floor of undeveloped shell space that can be built out to meet future needs.


Children’s Hospital debuts space

Following completion of construction on the first of four new floors at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, patients were moved into the new 10th floor, 40,000-square-foot Pediatric Heart Institute after a nearly three-year, $150 million construction project.

The new 10th floor of the hospital consists of a 38-bed unit that creates a dedicated space for cardiac care, bringing together all cardiology-related specialties onto one floor.


Denny to lead All of Us Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) selected Joshua Denny, MD, MS, vice president of Personalized Medicine at VUMC, to be the chief executive officer of the federal All of Us Research Program.

All of Us is a landmark study that aims to partner with one million participants to accelerate understanding, treatment and prevention of disease in ways that will impact everyone. Denny will succeed current All of Us Director Eric Dishman, who will become the program’s chief innovation officer.


AIDS research support

VUMC was awarded a five-year, nearly $23 million federal grant to continue the coordination of AIDS education and training efforts in Tennessee and seven other southeastern states.

The Southeast AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) coordinates HIV/AIDS education efforts in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina as well as Tennessee. Since 2015 the center has been based in the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Clinic (CCC) at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks.

The Southeast center is one of eight AETCs within the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Soaring Higher, Dreaming Bigger

Children’s Hospital launched a $15 million childhood cancer campaign.

A Campaign Against Childhood Cancer: Soaring Higher, Dreaming Bigger builds on the strengths of Children’s Hospital by creating space dedicated to clinical care for pediatric and adolescent cancers and continuing to address the needs of families in the region.

Of the funds raised, $10 million will be used to expand and upgrade existing space for cancer treatments and $5 million will be for research, training and program support.


Alliance anniversary

VUMC and Meharry Medical College celebrated the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance to enhance the educational, scientific and clinical programs at and between both institutions.

The Alliance established a working relationship for undergraduate and graduate medical education, research and training, the utilization of shared research, teaching, patient care and library facilities, and enhanced interaction of students and faculty at both schools.


Artificial intelligence solutions

IBM Watson Health announced plans to make a 10-year, $50 million investment in joint research collaborations with Brigham and Women’s Hospital — the teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School — and VUMC to advance the science of artificial intelligence (AI) and its application to major public health issues.

The scientific collaborations will focus on critical health problems that are ideally suited for AI solutions.


Supporting schizophrenia research

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences received a $10 million endowed gift to fund translational research, support clinical programs and create an endowed chair within the department.

As a family member of a loved one with schizophrenia, the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, is energized by the potential of developing early treatments to slow or prevent psychosis from reaching more critical stages.


Taking action on sexual harassment

VUMC joined the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and over 40 other colleges, universities and research institutions — including VU — to launch an Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education.

VUMC and VU are founding members of the action collaborative, which will bring together academic leaders and key stakeholders to prevent sexual harassment across all disciplines and among all people in higher education.


Eye Institute’s largest gift

The Vanderbilt Eye Institute (VEI) received a $10 million gift — the Institute’s largest to date — to fund regenerative visual neuroscience research to develop transformative therapies for eye diseases.

While the donor family wants to remain anonymous, the impact of the gift will be widely recognizable.


SPORE grants continue

Breast cancer researchers at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) secured a fourth round of continuous Specialized Program of Research Excellence funding.

The SPORE in Breast Cancer grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is for a five-year period totaling $11.6 million. The grants promote translational research between clinical and basic scientists.

Colorectal cancer researchers from VICC also were awarded a Specialized Program of Research Excellence grant from NCI.

The five-year Gastrointestinal SPORE grant totals $11.6 million.


Improving health informatics

VUMC formed a new Center for Improving the Public’s Health Using Informatics (CIPHI, pronounced “sci fi”), co-directed by Michael Matheny, MD, MS, MPH, and Melissa McPheeters, PhD, MPH.

It is focused on providing a bridge between public health and health care to mutually develop and test critical informatics capacity for improving population health and expanding critically needed capacity in graduate education in public health informatics.


Heart Association support

VUMC received more than $3.7 million from the American Heart Association (AHA) to form part of a research network focused on understanding the causes, risk factors and disease processes of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest.


Examining CT scans for smokers

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines that determine which smokers qualify for CT scans exclude significant numbers of African Americans who develop lung cancer, a health disparity that merits modifications to lung cancer screening criteria, according to a study from Vanderbilt researchers. The researchers concluded that those guidelines may be too conservative for African Americans, setting the stage for later diagnoses and reduced odds of survival.


Psychiatric Hospital debuts new space

VUMC celebrated the opening of the Charlotte and Donald Test Jr. Center at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, a new inpatient unit that expanded the hospital’s inpatient capacity from 92 to 106 with the addition of 14 new adult beds. The unit marks the hospital’s first constructed inpatient expansion since its doors opened in December 1985.


Children’s Hospital’s Gregory mourned

VUMC mourned the loss of Luke Gregory, MBA, MHA, MA, Chief Executive Officer for Children’s Hospital and Senior Vice President for Business Development. Gregory died Oct. 18 after a courageous battle with lymphoma.

The embodiment of a servant leader, Gregory joined the Medical Center in 2007 as senior vice president and chief business development officer. In January 2011 he was named CEO of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.


New schizophrenia genes identified

Using a unique computational framework they developed, a team of scientist cyber-sleuths in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute identified 104 high-risk genes for schizophrenia.

Their discovery, reported in Nature Neuroscience, supports the view that schizophrenia is a developmental disease, one which potentially can be detected and treated even before the onset of symptoms.


REDCap milestone

Fifteen years after it was launched, REDCap, Vanderbilt’s research data management tool, reached 1 million users throughout the world.

REDCap, or Research Electronic Data Capture, is a web-based platform originally devised by Paul Harris, PhD, professor of Biomedical Informatics, Biomedical Engineering and Biostatistics. To date, 3,630 institutions in 131 countries have adopted REDCap, which has been cited in more than 7,700 scientific papers.


ECMO program expands

VUMC expanded its ECMO program from its longtime home in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) to the Medical (MICU) and Trauma Intensive Care units. That means more patients can benefit from the life-saving treatment, and patients and families can benefit by staying with their initial care team rather than shifting to the CVICU when ECMO is necessary.

VUMC is now one of only a few hospital systems in the country that regularly offers ECMO outside the CVICU.


Kaelin receives Nobel Prize

William Kaelin Jr., MD, a member of the VUMC Biomedical Science Advisory Board, was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Kaelin, professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, shared the award with Sir Peter Ratcliffe (Oxford University) and Gregg Semenza, MD, PhD, (Johns Hopkins University), for discoveries of “how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.”


OpenNotes debuts

In October, patients receiving treatment at three VUMC clinics were given full access to their clinicians’ notes in their electronic medical records as part of an OpenNotes pilot.

OpenNotes is an international effort launched nearly a decade ago to provide patients complete and straightforward access to their medical providers’ clinical notes, a part of their medical record that is already legally the patient’s but has often been time-consuming or difficult to obtain. Currently, more than 40 million patients in the United States have been provided OpenNotes access to their clinical notes, including all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and half of the nation’s top 50 cancer centers.


Penicillin allergy label program

A program in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at VUAH successfully removed penicillin allergy labels from more than 45 inpatients at high risk to receive antibiotics, but whose penicillin allergies were low risk.

The program debuted first in the Medical ICU and will sequentially move through all inpatient medical units at VUMC.


Collecting family health histories

Georgia Wiesner, MD, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director of the Clinical and Translational Hereditary Cancer Program, was named to lead an initiative to establish a streamlined process for collection of family health histories that could set the stage for a standardized system to make the information easily accessible. The project is supported by a $5.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Moonshot program.