Nurturing an Ecosystem of Discovery and Care
Nov 8, 2016 1:00 PM
Our academic medical center prides itself on the outstanding clinical care we deliver to patients; the amazing research discoveries that make such care possible; and our approach to educating future health care professionals in an environment of discovery driven by inquiry, exploration and curiosity.
When all of these pieces come together, we make great things happen. Just this past year, we received noteworthy recognition from prominent organizations like the National Academy of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Academy of Sciences, the National Institute of Health Innovator Awards and others. We increased our programmatic grant and overall research portfolio activity by 23 percent, to $281 million. And our Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) received the prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center status from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Although we may give credit for each of these accomplishments to either our academic, research or clinical endeavors, when we look beyond the surface, we can see that none of this would have been possible without the convergence of these enterprises.
The simple fact of the matter is that our academic, research and clinical enterprises need each other to thrive. Today’s clinical advances are groundbreaking because they’re built on yesterday’s discoveries. Our clinical efforts, in turn, fund new research and spark innovative partnerships. For example, our Neuroscience Initiative, which brings together neurosurgery, neurology and psychiatry, continues to pioneer treatments in health care, break ground in imaging techniques, and design new solutions for brain and spinal cord repair. Our Diabetes and Metabolism Center is comprised of biochemists, clinicians, the College of Pharmacy, College of Health, Engineering Arts & Entertainment, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Department of Surgery, and others, all working together to further knowledge and treatments in diabetes, metabolism and obesity.
Health care reform has squeezed our funding and raised accountability on all fronts. For clinicians, this could mean that, instead of using funding to hire a medical assistant, the limited amount will instead go toward subsidizing the research enterprise. Researchers, on the other hand, might be left wondering why their project didn’t get funded, while someone else’s did. On the accountability side, clinicians may feel the pressure rising as they’re held to stricter standards of quality and patient satisfaction, while researchers could see tighter regulations on their end as barriers to free thinking and exploration. I’ve seen basic and clinical scientists collaborate to make advances in our Utah Genome Project and Program for Personalized Health—leveraging a $2 million seed grant into more than $35 million in philanthropy, grants, and industry partnerships to further investments. Keeping this symbiotic relationship in balance, however, doesn’t come without challenges.
In academic medicine, we know these tensions exist and our challenge is to balance the concerns of all our stakeholders with sound decisions and a common vision for the future. Now is the time to harmonize those differences and overcome our challenges so we can get to the work at hand: improving the health of our community and improving knowledge for future generations.
A brilliant example of how clinicians and researchers have worked to converge their focus on patient outcomes is our own Huntsman Cancer Institute. One of our crown jewels and a model of a successfully integrated health enterprise, HCI not only delivers some of the best cancer care in the country, but the brightest minds in cancer research are located right down the hall. With an eye on cancer care, these researchers are channeling their efforts in areas like better cancer diagnostics, precision preventions and treatments. All the while, students are training in this ecosystem of discovery, where they experience firsthand the power of aligning research efforts to clinical enterprise.
Throughout our system, we need more cross-discipline collaboration like we see at HCI. More opportunities for brilliant scientists to connect their discoveries to cutting-edge clinical care. By working together in this way, we can build a world-class research enterprise that not only impacts the lives of our patients, but inspires tomorrow’s health care leaders to continue their path of discovery.comments powered by Disqus