December 21, 2007

Year in review 2007: Achievements, growth took center stage

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The <a href=''>Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute</a> created a series of Town Hall meetings this year to share information about the program’s phenomenal growth. (photo by Anne Rayner)

The Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute created a series of Town Hall meetings this year to share information about the program’s phenomenal growth. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Editor's note — the following, in no particular order, is a roundup of the news that made headlines at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2007.

One Hundred Oaks

VUMC signed an agreement in July to lease more than half of 100 Oaks Mall in order to transform it into another campus of the Medical Center.

The facility, Vanderbilt Health at One Hundred Oaks, will expand the Medical Center's size by almost 440,000 square feet.

Some outpatient clinics and offices will move to the second and third floors of the mall, as well as to an adjacent office tower.

Officials expect some VUMC staff and faculty to be going to work at the new location by next summer.

Clinical, translational research award

In September, Vanderbilt University received a $40 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) — its largest single government research grant — to expedite the translation of laboratory discoveries to patients in the community.

The grant from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health will help create a new Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. The institute will provide next-generation support to faculty working to translate fundamental scientific discoveries into clinical practice, with innovative training programs, and state-of-the-art informatics and biostatistical methods.

VUSM curriculum change

The School of Medicine launched a curriculum revision to prepare the next generation of doctors with modern-day skills in areas including communication, teamwork and information technology.

Curriculum revisions for undergraduate medical students will integrate basic and clinical sciences, adhere to established learning principles and provide students with the skill sets essential to practicing safe, effective, ethical, evidence-based and patient-centered medicine in the 21st century.

Evidence-based Practice Center

In October, VUMC was chosen as one of 14 Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) in the United States and Canada by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

For a decade AHRQ has systematically reviewed and reported on the content and quality of the medical literature on specific topics like choice of depression treatments, prostate cancer screening options and surgical outcomes for knee replacement.

Conte Center established

Vanderbilt neuroscientists stepped into the national limelight in September with the establishment of a Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research.

The new center, funded by a $10 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and administered through the Center for Molecular Neuroscience, will support interdisciplinary studies aimed at understanding the gene networks that control serotonin systems in the brain.

SPORE support renewed

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center received additional rounds of support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for two of its Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) programs.

The SPORE in gastrointestinal cancer, one of only five such programs in the country, will receive $11.8 million over the next five years to continue Vanderbilt-Ingram's innovative colorectal cancer research.

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Lung SPORE, which was first funded in 2001, will receive $2.3 million a year for another five years. It is one of a handful of cancer centers in the country to receive SPORE grants and is matched by significant financial support from VUMC.

Personalized medicine network

On the strength of its DNA Databank Resource, VUMC was selected in October to participate in and coordinate a national network that will pursue the ideal of personalized medicine — health care “tailored” to each individual's genetic makeup.

The network of five sites, collectively awarded $20 million by the National Institutes of Health, will evaluate how electronic medical record systems can be used for large-scale genetic research.

Each center in the new consortium, organized by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) with additional funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, will study the genetic variation underlying a particular human trait using a technique called genome-wide association analysis.

Vine Hill gains status

The Vine Hill Community Clinic and its four satellite sites achieved status as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The clinic is the flagship of the University Community Health Services (UCHS), a network of eight area health clinics, and the $650,000-a-year, three-year grant will go toward expanding services at Vine Hill and funding other health outreach efforts.

For the past 16 years Vine Hill Community Clinic has been largely funded by the School of Nursing as part of the school's faculty practice. With the advent of the FQHC funding, Vine Hill will sever all financial ties with VUSN and operate solely as a UCHS clinic. VUSN faculty will continue to fill many of the primary care and specialty roles.

Going public

TyraTech, formed by Vanderbilt and XL TechGroup in 2004 to develop safe, natural products for controlling insects and human and animal parasites, hit a milestone earlier this year: it became the first publicly traded company based solely on a Vanderbilt technology.

TyraTech has signed agreements with multiple companies to license and distribute its non-toxic insecticide formulations for crop protection and personal care products and with Kraft Foods Inc. to develop food additives aimed at preventing human intestinal parasite infections in the developing world.

Rewarding teaching excellence

VUSM created the Academy for Teaching Excellence, devoted to advancing the visibility, prestige and excellence of teaching within all aspects of the School of Medicine.

There are 45 founding members of the Academy. These memberships were initially offered to all former winners of Vanderbilt's existing awards for excellence in teaching.

After the Academy's first year, membership selection will be expanded via nominations from existing members, the Dean's office, department chairs, and center directors. Members of the Academy will represent the entire school and will include those devoted to the teaching of medical students, graduate students, residents, postdoctoral and clinical fellows and practicing physicians and scientists.

Vanderbilt-Ingram joins alliance

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center was named a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the world's leading cancer centers, becoming the organization's 21st member.

The NCCN includes centers dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of oncology practice so patients can live better lives.

NIH funding grows

VUMC was one of only a handful of institutions with an increase in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2006 (FY06).

At a time when most of last year's top-ranked medical schools experienced grant funding decreases of between $5 million and $20 million, VUMC's total grant funding increased from $241.2 million to $245.6 million. The dollar amount increase paralleled an increase in number of grants awarded — from 586 in FY05 to 603 in FY06.

Cardiovascular PPG

A $9.6 million award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute extended the Vanderbilt Program Project Grant (PPG) in autonomic cardiovascular regulation for another five years.

Initially funded in 1997 and renewed in 2002, it is the largest grant of its kind funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the only cardiovascular PPG that is based solely on clinical, patient-oriented research.

Vaccine evaluations

VUMC will receive nearly $24 million from the federal government over the next seven years to continue evaluating innovative vaccines for malaria, pandemic flu and other infections. Vanderbilt's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit received the grant renewal from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

elevate rolls on

Organizational goals and standards developed under elevate continue to become part of the fabric of VUMC. In 2007, teams again pursued ambitious goals for quality, service, employee satisfaction, growth and financial results; administrators continued to cast a spotlight on staff and faculty satisfaction; clinical teams made strides in patient satisfaction and in a broad list of publicly reported quality measures; and the Leadership Development Institute’s quarterly management seminars were revamped to allow more group interaction and a more nuts-and-bolts approach to change.

Making the lists

• VUMC featured prominently in several of the rankings conducted throughout the year by U.S. News and World Report magazine.

VUMC had nine specialty programs ranked among the top 50 of their respective fields in U.S. News' ranking of “America's Best Hospitals,” up from seven last year.

The VUMC specialty programs ranked by U.S. News were: Cancer (22); Ear, Nose and Throat (16); Endocrinology (19); Gynecology (10); Heart and Heart Surgery (21); Kidney Disease (10); Orthopaedics (49); Respiratory Disorders (18); and Urology (13).

The magazine also ranked the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt 23rd on its first-ever listing of “America's Best Children's Hospitals.” The ranking, which listed 30 hospitals, marks the first time the magazine has assessed pediatric hospitals separately.

For the first time, Vanderbilt's schools of Medicine and Nursing both ranked among the top 20 in the country, according to U.S. News' annual ranking of “America's Best Graduate Schools.”

VUSM ranked 18th out of 125 accredited medical schools.

The Nursing program jumped into the Top 20 this year at 19th place.

• Child magazine named Children's Hospital as one of the top children's hospitals in the nation. It was ranked No. 14 in the nation in the biennial poll by the magazine.

• VUMC was recognized for the eighth consecutive year as one of the top 100 hospitals in the country, in a study by Solucient Institute.

The list identifies hospitals that have achieved certain national benchmark level scores for overall organizational performance in comparison with peer hospitals across the nation.

• Vanderbilt University Hospital was again named among the nation's top hospitals for quality and safety by the Leapfrog Group, a consortium of large companies and public employers that together provide health benefits to more than 37 million consumers spread among all 50 states.

• Six VUMC doctoral programs were among the top 10 in scholarly output in 2005, according to January's Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index from Academic Analytics. They are Pharmacology, Neuroscience, Genetics, Physiology, Developmental Biology and Microbiology

The index calculates the scholarly productivity in terms of faculty publications, citations, awards and grants.

• Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center ranked seventh in the nation in terms of research awards from the NCI. In Fiscal Year 2007 Vanderbilt-Ingram received 147 grants for a total of $66,264,603 in NCI funding.