1 Year – Progress and Promise

September 13, 2022 by jta6n@virginia.edu

Dean Melina Kibbe, MD head shot

Dean Melina Kibbe, MD

It is hard to believe it has been one year since we began this wonderful journey together. On September 15, 2021, I took one of the most momentous steps in my personal career journey by joining the University of Virginia as Dean of the School of Medicine. At the same time, you put your trust in me to lead you into the future. I am more excited on Day 365 than I was on Day 1 about the limitless possibilities we can achieve together. The big difference today is the wealth of knowledge and confidence I receive through my daily interactions with our faculty, trainees, learners, and team members. My excitement continues to grow because of you. We have so much more to accomplish together. It is the possibility of tomorrow, the mutual commitment to excellence, and the shared responsibility of shaping the future of medicine that brings me so much inspiration and joy. Below are some of our many accomplishments of this past year.

Our people are our most important asset. We have made meaningful strides in our ability to recruit and hire top talent and advance the careers of many of our own. In addition to recruiting 112 faculty and 330 staff to join the School of Medicine during this past year, the following leaders were appointed: Meg Keeley, MD, as the Senior Associate Dean for Education; Tracy M. Downs, MD, FACS, as the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI); Mark Weathers as the Chief of Staff; Jeremy Sibiski as the Chief Operating Officer; Charles R. Farber, PhD, as the Director of the Center for Public Health Genomics; Paola A. Gehrig, MD, as the Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Allan Tsung, MD, as the Chair of the Department of Surgery, Anja Belinsky, PhD, as Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Scott Hollenback, MD, as Chair of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, and, in collaboration with Dean Jennifer West in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Shayn Peirce-Cottler, PhD, as the Chair of Biomedical Engineering.

With over 1,200 faculty in the School of Medicine, ensuring equity, career satisfaction, and career development is incredibly important. During the 2021-2022 academic year, the School of Medicine, in coordination with the Provost, committed to an externally conducted School-wide faculty salary equity study. The study is in the final phases of the data analysis on over 50 metrics for all faculty in the SOM; we anticipate releasing an executive summary to the entire School as soon as data analysis is complete. With respect to faculty retention, I am excited to report that faculty departures for fiscal year 2022 were below the national average at 7.4% with no significant difference between genders and proportionally fewer departures by individuals who are underrepresented in medicine. Regarding promotion and tenure, a record number of 100 faculty members were promoted in 2022, of which 48% were women and 6% were underrepresented in medicine.

Clinical care continues to be a model and nationally recognized program. The UVA School of Medicine supports the health needs of our Commonwealth and beyond with the No. 1 children’s hospital in Virginia for the second year in a row as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, and the 42nd best hospital in the country as reported by Newsweek magazine. Game-changing programs and facilities continue to define our clinical care portfolio. UVA moved into an elite group of 52 of the most outstanding cancer programs in the nation by achieving a Comprehensive Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute, making us the only Comprehensive Cancer Center in Virginia. In addition, doors opened on the new UVA Health Orthopedic Center, one of the largest outpatient centers in the nation, as a destination program offering complete, state-of the art orthopedic care. Lastly, UVA Health came together through robust and rich discussions with all entities, including the UVA Physicians Group, to integrate revenue cycle and contracting services across the entire system. This was monumental in allowing the health care system to function as one team going forward and will have many beneficial downstream impacts.

Last year proved pivotal to the department annual review process; with the inclusion of leaders from across UVA Health in the process, we broke down silos in our organization and maintained a focus on how School of Medicine departments and centers are essential to the success of UVA Health. By creating opportunities for more dialogue and collaboration across the system toward clear goals, the 29 departments and six centers completed their efforts toward achieving FY22 annual goals. As of June 30, the departments and centers completed 79% of their goals, with eight departments completing 100% of their goals for the fiscal year.

Our rich tradition of innovative research is a pillar of the UVA School of Medicine’s mission. With over $235 million in total research and $148 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research awards, the School of Medicine’s research program ranked No. 42 in the nation by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. Our research program is the flagship that leads the way for the future of medicine at UVA and beyond. This robust research program has included 13 members of the National Academy of Medicine, two members of the National Academy of Sciences, seven members of the National Academy of Inventors and is supported by 249 NIH-funded investigators. The STEM P2PE University-wide initiative was extremely competitive with only four awards made: two of the awarded projects had School of Medicine principal investigators, Coleen McNamara, MD, and Tajie Harris, PhD, and together the awards totaled $10.2 million. During the 2021-2022 academic year, we are also excited that Jochen Zimmer, PhD, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Overall, I am proud that our research and clinical faculty bring together their combined scientific expertise with a goal of improving health and quality of life for all.

Our medical education and experience is unmatched. U.S. News & World Report 2022-2023 Best Medical Schools ranked the UVA School of Medicine #30 among 192 schools, placing the UVA School of Medicine among the top 15% of medical schools in the country. With a total medical student population of 655 in 2022, UVA continues to train and educate the best and brightest from around the state, nation and world. The students entering the School of Medicine each year are truly outstanding and accomplished. For this most recent incoming class, the average undergraduate GPA was 3.87 and MCAT score was in the 95th percentile. In March 2022, we celebrated Match Day with our medical students. Our medical students matched into 23 different specialties across 40 different states. In April 2022, a total of 50 PhD and MD/PhD students in eight degree-granting programs participated in the BIMS Lab Coat Ceremony, marking the transition of first-year BIMS students in their graduate career. Finally, it is important to note that during this past year, the first cohort of medical students at our Inova regional campus completed clerkship rotations and started the elective phase of the curriculum. With the arrival of the second cohort last January, there are now 72 students doing clinical training at the regional campus.

Our residency programs also continue to rank nationally with six programs in the top decile (internal medicine, pathology, radiology, family medicine, surgery, orthopedic surgery) and six programs in the top quartile (neurology, psychiatry, obstetrics-gynecology, emergency medicine, anesthesia, otolaryngology) as ranked by Doximity. Further, our internal medicine (No. 22) and surgery (No. 23) residency programs were ranked extremely high by U.S. News & World Report. Our own UVA residency programs enjoyed a 100% match rate for our categorical positions. These accolades are not easily earned. The efforts of all our School of Medicine team members continue to be both “great” and “good” and set the standard in education for the university.

Maintaining a healthy and inclusive climate is paramount to the success of our team. Since being appointed as the inaugural Senior Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in January, Tracy M. Downs, MD, has been working hard to bring coordination and alignment of diversity efforts across our mission areas of education, clinical, research, and community. Most notably, he announced the new Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) program to train, empower, and provide resources to each of the 29 UVA School of Medicine departments to develop a commitment to our diversity, equity, and inclusion values.

This past year also marked the first-ever Black Medical Alumni Weekend, hosted by the UVA Medical Alumni Association, where former students gathered for a weekend of celebration, reconnection, and recognition. Special attendees included: Edward Wood, MD ’57, one of the first two African American medical students who was admitted to and graduated from the School of Medicine; Vivian Pinn, MD ’67, the second African American woman to graduate from the SOM and the only woman and African American medical student in the UVA SOM Class of 1967; and David Wilkes, MD, the first African American dean of the UVA School of Medicine. This was in addition to the UVA School of Medicine Reunion Weekend, which hosted over 600 alumni who graduated from the classes of 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2002 for their milestone reunions. We also celebrated rescheduled milestone reunions for the Classes of 1965, 1970, 1971, 1976, 1980, 1986 and 1990.

During this past year, our organization worked hard to achieve a historic milestone by introducing the first UVA Health-wide strategic plan inclusive of all four mission areas (clinical care, education, research, and community). We thank all of you who contributed to this strategic plan. We stand ready to do our part to transform health and inspire hope for all Virginians and beyond. The strategic plan will be published broadly soon.

In March of 2022, the SOM created and launched the first-ever weekly newsletter, Medicine in Motion. It is important to me that we create opportunities to regularly communicate, share vital information across the School, and most importantly, celebrate the many accomplishments of our faculty, trainees, learners, and team members. Anyone can subscribe to receive this newsletter.

Lastly, I am excited to announce that the School of Medicine will proudly publish its first Annual Report in over 21 years. This report will review our 2021-22 accomplishments and highlight your great work. We are on track to publish the annual report in November.

I could not be prouder nor more confident in the future of our School. Your great strides and accomplishments in the last year make me so excited about what is to come. It is perfectly clear to me that our reputation — our greatness — is wholly due to you, the faculty, trainees, team members, and students of the UVA School of Medicine.

With gratitude,

Melina Kibbe, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science
Chief Health Affairs Officer, UVA Health

Filed Under: Dean's Message, Featured