May 26, 2011

Balser outlines goals at VUSM Spring Faculty Meeting

Featured Image

Joseph Gigante, M.D., second from right, was among those named to receive an Academic Enterprise Award at Wednesday's VUSM Spring Faculty Meeting. Congratulating him are, from left, John Penn, Ph.D., Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., and Meg Rush, M.D. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Balser outlines goals at VUSM Spring Faculty Meeting

At the School of Medicine Spring Faculty Meeting Wednesday, Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and the dean of the School of Medicine, told a packed Light Hall audience that Vanderbilt has made significant progress toward its priority goals of endowed support for chairs and student scholarship, but there is still work to be done.

“Endowment for our people has to be our biggest priority. We need more endowed chairs for faculty and more scholarships for students. Who we are depends on who we can retain and who we can attract,” Balser said.

The number of VUSM’s endowed chairs has increased from 95 to 133 since 2008, while the average number of endowed chairs for the nation’s other top 20 medical schools is 130, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. However, the average overall endowment for those same 20 schools is $1.2 billion, while Vanderbilt’s currently stands at $745 million.

VUSM’s annual tuition cost of $39,900 in 2010 for its students ranks among the lowest when compared to peer institutions, however Balser said reducing debt that students accrue while in school remains a top priority.

“Having more scholarship support is critical for attracting the nation’s top applicants,” Balser said.

Among other indicators of progress is the number of M.D. applicants to the School of Medicine, which has increased from an average of 3,500 a decade ago, to nearly 5,500 each year. Similarly, the number of applicants to Ph.D. programs has risen sharply, from 1,251 in 2007 to 1,543 in 2011.

Also, the total number of Vanderbilt faculty who are members of the National Academies is currently 17, the highest number in Vanderbilt’s history.

But Balser said Vanderbilt is not ranked as high as it should be by U.S. News and World Report.

“Based on our NIH funding, our MCAT scores and GPAs we should be in the top 10, but reputation accounts for about half the score for these rankings. One thing we can do to improve our reputational score is increase the degree to which our research is cited,” Balser said.

Vanderbilt is currently ranked 16th in the nation in citations per publication.

Balser reviewed the chair and leadership appointments for fiscal year 2011, which include:

• Alan Bentley, M.S., assistant vice chancellor for Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development

• Nancy Brown, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine

• Luke Gregory, C.E.O. of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

• Seth Karp, M.D., who will lead the Vanderbilt Transplant Center beginning July 1

• Arnold Malcolm, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology

• Samuel Santoro, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the newly merged Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Current chair searches were also reviewed, while Balser thanked the chairs for each search committee:

• Department of Biochemistry — search committee chaired by Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., University Professor and Director of the Institute for Chemical Biology

• Department of Biomedical Informatics — search committee chaired by Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

• Department of Cell and Developmental Biology — search committee chaired by Roger Cone, Ph.D., professor and chair of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

• Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation — search committee chaired by Paul Sternberg, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Adult Health Affairs and George W. Hale Professor and chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Balser also expressed his sincere appreciation to faculty who are currently serving in interim leadership roles for clinical and research departments.

The remainder of the meeting was dedicated to the 2011 Academic Enterprise Faculty Awards. Information about this year’s award winners can be found here.