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Dean’s Newsletter – February 2013

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

As you read this update, I am in Sao Paulo, Brazil with University colleagues Matt Gutmann, Susan Cu-Uvin, Cesario Bianchi, Bharat Ramratnam and Sarah MacCarthy exploring new opportunities for collaboration. I’ll report the details in the next newsletter.

credit: Scott Kingsley

The Corporation meeting of Brown University was abbreviated due to a severe winter storm. We were able to have our Medical School Committee meeting Thursday evening, before the blizzard hit. There was a lively discussion on a number of issues including Public Health, our new Primary Care-Population Health Program, and hospital relations.

The Corporation met by phone on February 13 to take action on a range of items, and, historically, approved the proposal to create The Brown University School of Public Health beginning July 1, 2013. This culminates a more than 10-year process of planning, growing, and developing the Program in Public Health in BioMed. There are many people who have worked hard to make this happen, but the most credit should go to inaugural Dean for Public Health Fox Wetle. Additional credit also goes to Vince Mor, professor of Health Services Policy & Practice who aided Dean Wetle throughout the duration. The school’s faculty have created robust research programs and exciting educational initiatives that place it among the most dynamic and productive public health schools in the country. Congratulations to everyone involved and most of all to the faculty and staff of Public Health.

As I have noted before, Associate Dean for Medical Education, Dr. Phil Gruppuso, has initiated a planning process to develop a new program at the Alpert Medical School to train students in Primary Care and Population Health. Assistant Dean, Jeff Borkan, MD, PhD, is charged with the development of the planning process. Twenty-four students per class will be admitted beginning in the summer of 2015. Students will be educated in both primary care and population health resulting in an MD degree and a master’s degree. The program is designed to train a cohort of leaders who will work in primary care; lead primary care practice groups; serve as primary care educators in medical schools; become advocates for primary care; and more. They will also lead the new era of health care reform in both Rhode Island and the country. (Read more in this op-ed recently published in Brown Medicine and The Providence Journal written by Jeffrey Borkan, MD, PhD; Philip Gruppuso, MD; Paul George, MD and me.)

President Paxson asked me to form an advisory committee for the program consisting of representatives from state government, our sister colleges and universities in Rhode Island, practicing physicians, practice organizations, the major health insurer, and our teaching hospitals. Our first meeting on January 8th was an amazing success. The group of approximately 28 leaders gave their opinions and advice regarding our Program. They enthusiastically endorsed, and considered it the context of the future of health care in Rhode Island. The gathering was like a very lively New England town meeting with the key stake holders discussing solutions to the challenges of health care in the future. Leaders, exchanged ideas and proposals. Of note, Stephanie Chafee, a registered nurse and First Lady of Rhode Island, gave us the benefit of her extensive experience in the health care arena. Subcommittee meetings have occurred or have been scheduled and a second meeting of the entire group occurred February 12th. President Paxson and Provost Schlissel attended and provided valuable input and support. Overall the process has produced much needed advice and backing for the incipient program. Perhaps as important, the process has brought Rhode Island leaders in many areas of health care together in a series of forums that permit the exchange of ideas and that provide an important vehicle for planning the future of health care in our state.

And finally the search for my replacement, led by Provost Schlissel, is proceeding well. I am not involved for obvious reasons, but understand that the prospects for attracting an outstanding dean of medicine and biological sciences are excellent.