State of Medical School Address highlights reputational growthMay. 24, 2023, 12:51 PM
By Bill Snyder
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine continues to distinguish itself as a world leader in teaching, research and patient care, Dean Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, said last week during the Spring Faculty Assembly.
The medical school rose from 13th to 5th place in rankings published annually by U.S. News and World Report. The rankings modified the weighting of various factors, and in doing so increased the positive impact of having a very large number of faculty engaged in both training and broad areas of federally funded research, said Balser, who is also President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
In the 2022 fiscal year, the medical school also ranked 11th in the amount of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The 2023 fiscal year may be even better, Balser said, as overall research funding is projected to grow by 8% from a baseline of $916 million.
Last year’s recruitment of John Kuriyan, PhD, one of the world’s leading structural biologists, as dean of Basic Sciences in the School of Medicine, is another example of Vanderbilt’s growing reputation.
“It basically sends the message that Vanderbilt is going to be the home for an ever-growing and ever more powerful basic science enterprise,” Balser said.
The school’s reputation was on display in January, when a partnership with industry was announced to whole-genome sequence approximately 35,000 DNA samples, mostly from African Americans, who are underrepresented in genetic research. “This will be the largest whole-genome cohort of African Americans linked to extensive, longitudinal electronic medical record health information in the world,” he said.
The accomplishments of Vanderbilt faculty were evidenced by the recognition they receive from prestigious groups, such as the Pew Charitable Trusts and National Academy of Medicine, and by their participation on national advisory committees in pediatrics, mental health, and health equity.
Vanderbilt medical school graduates also are highly prized — this year 78% of them matched to the nation’s top 25 hospital-based residency programs. Of the 1,195 residents and fellows training at VUMC this year, 61.4% are women, an all-time high, and more than one-fifth are underrepresented minorities.
Current medical school enrollment is 645 students, which includes 82 in the Hearing & Speech Sciences program, and 58 who are seeking a master’s degree in public health.
Of the 445 MD students, 110 or about 25% are undertaking both an MD and a PhD in the Medical Scientist Training Program. While other medical schools train more MD/PhDs, “as a percent of our medical class, we’re among the largest,” Balser said, commenting on the school’s strong commitment to training physician scientists of the future.