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February 24, 2023

Leaders in NIH funding

The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research has published its 2022 rankings of schools and departments by NIH funding, and Emory once again scores among the nation’s most elite academic health centers—confirming the Woodruff Health Sciences Center’s (WHSC) reputation as one of the most talented, productive, and impactful research teams in the country.

 The Emory School of Medicine (SOM) ranks 13th in the nation—an all-time record and up from 16th last year; the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (SON) is number three in the country; and the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) ranks eighth nationwide.

At the department level, the WHSC has 13 programs in the top 20, including five in the top 10. Add the extraordinary work being done in the Winship Cancer Institute and the Emory Primate Research Center to that equation, and it’s clear that WHSC is at the very forefront of innovation and discovery.

 As we prepare, like many of our peer institutions, to face a year fraught with challenges, we can all take pride in the impressive trajectory of our research teams and the exciting and significant opportunities they make possible for the WHSC. Congratulations to all!

Kind regards,


Ravi I. Thadhani, MD, MPH
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
Vice Chair, Emory Healthcare Board of Directors

Please direct questions and comments to evphafeedback@emory.edu.

Our People: Mark Benson – Emory Decatur Hospital

On a recent visit to Emory Decatur Hospital (EDH), I had the honor of meeting Unit Charge Nurse III Mark Benson (pictured left, far left) as he provided hemodialysis to his patients, many of whom are members of underrepresented populations. As he cared for these vulnerable people, Mark’s kindness, compassion, experience, and expertise were abundantly clear. He shared with me that he has always worked in kidney disease and that he finds the work to be meaningful both to the community and to him personally. “My patient and family care philosophy is to treat patients and family members with empathy as if they were my family—always treating them with love, dignity, and respect,” he said.

Mark has cared for Emory’s dialysis patients for five years, and he takes great pride in being a member of the Emory team. Speaking about his years at Emory, Mark says, “I have gained a wealth of knowledge, improved communication, leadership skills, and healthy relationships with my coworkers. What sets Emory apart from other health care providers is that there is work-life balance, fair pay, quality benefits, goal-oriented leadership, company culture, and an open-door policy.”

 I was also delighted to meet EDH Interim CEO Jen Schuck (pictured above, middle), who had the following to say about Mark: “Mark delivers patient-centered care every shift, which includes delivering whole-person care, not just the dialysis treatment itself. Mark exudes the definition of high-quality patient care by providing safe and effective care while partnering with the patient on decisions related to their overall care. He is a consummate professional who is strong in his communication with patients, families, and the team.”

Thank you, Mark, for helping us improve lives and provide hope!

To nominate a colleague to be featured in an upcoming segment of Our People, please email me at feedback@emory.edu and let me know what makes them special.

Kudos for five years of service

At the end of this month, Vikas P. Sukhatme steps down as dean of the SOM and chief academic officer of Emory Healthcare after five years of service in these roles. During his deanship, Sukhatme’s focus has been on removing barriers to medical innovation and finding new, meaningful ways to integrate research into education and patient care.

Sukhatme oversaw development of the SOM’s Excellence to Eminence strategic plan, which has included recruitment of more than 90 eminent faculty, including “game changers” whose transformative ideas in biomedical science could change the practice of medicine. He invested in current faculty through programs like the Imagine, Innovate, Impact awards (I3), which have spurred collaboration and new ideas. Under his leadership, the medical school’s student body has become increasingly diverse with 30 percent currently identifying as historically underrepresented in medicine. With his wife, Vidula Sukhatme, he founded the Morningside Center for Innovative and Affordable Medicine to promote research, education. and advocacy regarding the critical need to repurpose drugs and other treatments that are not being pursued due to a lack of sufficient financial incentive. 

 “The School of Medicine, Emory Healthcare, the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and the university at large have benefitted from Vikas’ thoughtful leadership founded on collaboration, innovation and excellence, and his drive to increase SOM’s NIH funding, as well as his gift for recruiting incredible scholars,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We are grateful to Vikas for his commitment to ensuring a smooth transition and his continued guidance as we continue to build upon the outstanding progress he has made over the past five years.”

Sukhatme will continue as a full-time faculty member in the SOM, leading the Morningside Center, and contributing to a nascent “Clinics of the Future” initiative as well as teaching. Carlos del Rio will serve as interim dean for the SOM and interim chief academic officer for Emory Healthcare beginning March 1. Read more.

In Brief
Young cancer survivors forgo HPV vaccination

Although young cancer survivors face an elevated risk for later developing cervical, oropharyngeal and several other human papillomavirus (HPV)–related cancers, HPV vaccination rates among this group remain low. This is primarily because of certain vaccine‐related concerns, according to a study led by Winship researchers. Read more.

Noninvasive ultrasound treatment for tremor

Emory Healthcare is the first health care system in Georgia offering a noninvasive ultrasound treatment for patients living with essential tremor or tremor from Parkinson’s disease. The procedure is performed in a single session in an outpatient imaging center and typically takes two to three hours. Read more.

AAAS 2022 Fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named six Emory faculty members as 2022 Fellows, which is one of the largest classes selected from Emory in more than a century. The fellows, pictures above, are (top row, l-r) President Gregory L. Fenves, Reshma Jagsi, Kathy Griendling, (bottom row, l-r) David S. Weiss, Anita H. Corbett, and Ben Lopman. Read more.

Link between psychiatric conditions and neurodegenerative diseases

A recent study by researchers at Emory and Rush University in Chicago points to the intersection between psychiatric conditions and neurodegenerative diseases that may prove why people with mid-life depression have increased risk for dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. Read more.

Artists Residency Program

Emory has created residency opportunities for four artists, providing studio space in buildings across from Emory University Hospital Midtown as part of the Midtown Heart of the Arts Residency Program. “We are excited to support Atlanta artists through this innovative program,” says David C. Payne, associate vice president of planning and engagement. Read more.

‘Your Fantastic Mind’ season 4

“Your Fantastic Mind,” the Emmy-winning PBS television series partnership between Emory Brain Health and Georgia Public Broadcasting, is gearing up for a fourth season set to air this spring. Seasons two and three are both in national syndication. Visit the “Your Fantastic Mind” website to stream full episodes and segments from the first three seasons, and check your local listings for season four air dates and times. Read more.

Honoring Black frontline health care workers

Kimberly Manning, professor of medicine, is featured in a new video series by the American Medical Association, in partnership with AFROPUNK and the National Medical Association, that celebrates black frontline healthcare workers for their contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthy Aging Study Annual Report

The Emory Healthy Aging Study has released its 2022 annual report. The study is the largest clinical research study Emory has ever conducted and it is aimed at furthering our scientific understanding of how we age and to identifying markers that can predict diseases that occur more commonly in later years. The study is still enrolling participants. Read the Emory Healthy Aging Study Annual Report here.

Dawn Comeau, professor of behavioral, social, and health education sciences, received the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health’s (ASPPH) Teaching Excellence Award.

Craig Coopersmith, an academic surgeon in the area of surgical critical care, has been selected by the American College of Critical Care Medicine (ACCM) as the recipient of their 2023 ACCM Distinguished Investigator Award. This is the highest recognition given by the College and is awarded to "an individual whose scientific and educational contributions to the art and science of critical care demonstrates career commitment and excellence."

Stephanie Eick, assistant professor of environmental health, was selected for the JPB Environmental Health Fellowship Program, facilitated by Harvard University. Eick is one of 14 early-career researchers to receive the fellowship nationwide.

Tracey Henry, associate professor of medicine, was appointed by the American Medical Association's Board of Trustees to serve on their National AMA Council on Legislation. The Council on Legislation reviews proposed federal legislation and recommends appropriate action in accordance with AMA policy. 

Colleen McBride, professor of behavioral, social, and health education sciences, was selected as the recipient of the 2023 John F. Morgan Sr. Distinguished Faculty Award. On February 7, she delivered the 2023 John F. Morgan, Sr. Distinguished Faculty Lecture titled “Human Genome Mapped: Public Health Benefit?” Read more.

Lauren McCullough, associate professor of epidemiology, received the ASPPH’s Early Career Research Excellence Award.

Larry Young, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is the SOM’s 2023 Dean's Distinguished Faculty Lecture and Award recipient. Young will give his honorary lecture on "The Brain Science of Social Connections: Implications for Health and Society" on May 25.

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