publication date: Jan. 8, 2016

St. Jude to Open Grad School For Biomedical Sciences 


ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL has received a unanimous vote of approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for the opening of a new graduate school of biomedical sciences.

Stephen White, a faculty member in the St. Jude Department of Structural Biology, will serve as dean of the graduate school. The school will be located in the Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education and Collaboration, and will welcome the inaugural class in fall 2017.

“The graduate school will play an important role in our research efforts to advance cures for pediatric catastrophic diseases,” said James Downing, St. Jude president and CEO, “Talented graduate students are a creative and energetic force that will contribute to the kind of innovation required for progress against cancer and other life-threatening diseases. These students will ask the unexpected questions, challenge fundamental assumptions and will help tackle the most difficult scientific problems.”

Students will also interact with the neighboring University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.


RESEARCH!AMERICA unveiled its policy wish list for 2016, urging Congress to take action on several research priorities.

“Congress should act this year to sustain robust funding for federal health agencies, advance medical innovation and mental health legislation, and permanently repeal the medical device tax,” they said in a statement.

The advocacy group said that additional funds for NIH and FDA will support innovative projects including precision medicine, Alzheimer’s research and efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance, however “the budget for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality was cut by eight percent in the spending bill, further limiting the agency’s ability to address costly errors and inefficiencies in health care delivery. Sustainable and predictable investments for AHRQ and other health agencies are critical to accelerating medical progress.”

The group also called attention to a bill being drafted by a Senate committee, called the Innovations for Healthier Americans Initiative, which is companion legislation for the 21st Century Cures bill, which passed in the House last year.

“Research!America urges Senate action early this year on legislation that responsibly modernizes regulatory pathways for new drugs and medical devices, and includes mandatory funding for the NIH and FDA. The goal must be to enact meaningful legislation this year.”


MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING CANCER CENTER opened its Josie Robertson Surgery Center. At full capacity, the outpatient center will accommodate 60 surgeries a day.

The facility’s 12 operating rooms are designed for procedures for breast cancer and reconstruction, as well as head and neck, gynecologic, and urologic cancers, including procedures that traditionally required inpatient admission. More than 50 percent of the 20,000 surgeries performed at MSK in 2015 were outpatient procedures.

“We are pioneering a new standard for outpatient surgery, one that seeks to transform cancer surgery worldwide,” said JRSC Director Brett Simon. “Our commitment to elevating the patient experience is reflected in our emphasis on minimizing the anxiety often felt by patients undergoing cancer surgery. Incorporating technology-based tools—including video conferencing that enables patients to speak with their families or doctors at remote locations and a real-time location system that allows patients to move freely through many parts of the building, both before and after procedures—can help reduce those feelings of anxiety and keep patients focused on the most important thing, their recovery.”

The 16-story, 179,000-square-foot building is located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was established in part by a gift of $50 million from the Robertson Foundation, which was founded in 1996 by Josephine (Josie) Robertson and her husband, investor Julian Robertson, along with their family. Josie Robertson was elected to MSK’s Board of Overseers in 2004.


INOVA and George Mason University formed a partnership to conduct translational research. The partnership was announced by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

“By combining resources, Inova and Mason will place Virginia at the forefront of the fight against cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses,” said McAuliffe. “Biomedical research is also a pillar of the ‘New Virginia Economy.’ The work these two great institutions perform will spur opportunities for entrepreneurship, create new companies and generate jobs that will grow our economy and help us prosper.”

The partnership will establish a Scientific Connector Facility and the Inova-Mason Proteomics Center. Both will be housed on the campus of the Inova Center for Personalized Health. Inova will have a physical presence on Mason’s Science and Technology Campus so its physicians and researchers can utilize Mason’s research capabilities and labs.

Mason and Inova will also establish a Personalized Medicine Public Policy and Ethics Institute, along with an endowed chair to support this initiative. The partnership will also include a fellowship program to recruit internationally recognized researchers and clinical investigators to both institutions.


ST. JUDE announced a $20-million commitment from The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation to support inpatient care. The Cohen Foundation’s gift will help fund the construction of an inpatient care unit for children treated at the new Kay Research & Care Center on the St. Jude campus.

The third floor of the new Kay Research & Care Center will be home to 17 of the hospital’s 51 new inpatient beds, and will be named in honor of the Cohen Foundation. When complete, the new inpatient unit will offer an enhanced patient care experience, with digital technology and more room to accommodate patient and family needs. Patients are expected to occupy the new floors in the Kay Research & Care Center by July 2016.

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