Vol. 12 No. 4 - November, 2009

Message from the Dean

GSBS dean insert
Anthon Carruthers, PhD

This fall ushers in my seventh academic year as dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Reflecting on all that has happened in that time and all we plan for the next several years, I am constantly reminded that it is our collegiality and collective excitement for interdisciplinary research that stimulate and bind us in our common desire: to undertake leading edge research that transforms the biomedical sciences and advances the human condition.

The past academic year has seen important developments and challenges. Each has revealed the very best in our faculty, students and staff. In December we lost one of our finest, Jen Songer, to a tragic auto accident. Jen was an academically (and experimentally) gifted student for whom the world of advanced professional science was just beginning to open its doors. We miss her dearly.

In summer, Michael Cole, our senior director of GSBS admissions, resigned to take an admissions leadership position in western Massachusetts. An individual of great professional and personal stature, Michael leaves big shoes to fill. We wish him every success in his new endeavors.

Last spring saw the development of a faculty, student and staff committee that was charged with developing a 10-year plan to enhance the recruitment and retention of a more diverse student body. Their report is far-reaching and, working with the yet to be appointed associate dean for GSBS admissions, will transform student recruitment and retention in the GSBS.

The past academic year

has seen important developments and challenges. Each has revealed the very best in our faculty, students and staff.

Anthony Carruthers, PhD

Two new GSBS positions were created this year. The associate dean for clinical & translational sciences (Gyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD, professor of medicine) oversees the development of students in clinical research. Dr. Szabo also takes over from Elliot Androphy, MD, the Barbara and Nathan Greenberg Chair in Biomedical Research and professor of medicine and molecular genetics & microbiology, as the MD/PhD program director. Dr. Androphy stepped down from the role following seven years of outstanding service to the program. The associate dean for postdoctoral scholars (Anthony Imbalzano, PhD, professor of cell biology) oversees the development of post-doctoral fellows and coordinates professional development programs for students and fellows. These positions, their support staff, existing GSBS offices and all student services are now consolidated in the new GSBS home located in S1-824 of the Medical School.

This fall saw the inauguration of the new Department of Quantitative Health Sciences (QHS) located on the seventh floor of the new Advanced Center for Clinical Care and Educational Sciences (ACCES) building. Chaired by Catarina Kiefe, MD, PhD, professor of quantitative health sciences and medicine, who joined us from the University of Alabama–Birmingham, QHS adds to the critical mass of faculty undertaking clinical research and provides new and exciting thesis research opportunities for our students in the Program in Clinical & Population Health Research (CPHR) and master’s program in clinical investigation. CPHR students now call the QHS space home until the educational research space planned for the Albert Sherman Center and the GSBS educational home planned for the LRB become available.

In September, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Albert Sherman Center project—the new research and educational building that will house 80 new faculty and 700 scientific support staff for the RNA Therapeutics Institute, the Gene Therapy Center and the Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

Spring 2010 will bring course offerings from a new GSBS program in bioinformatics. The program faculty, headed by Zhiping Weng, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, is putting the final touches on a program outline that will be presented to the research chairs and graduate council for review and approval by the GSBS dean. The program will accept its first students in pre-thesis research in summer of this academic year.

Thus, many exciting, new challenges are on our horizon. Our immediate tasks include recruiting more students to learn from and work with our new faculty, expanding the diversity of our student body, recruiting a new admissions director and creating new GSBS programs. Together, we continue to reinvent our school to advance the promise of biomedical research.