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UM SOM Launches Unprecedented Initiative to Recruit Scores of Top Scientists

July 25, 2016

Goal is to attract Scores of Well-Funded Research Teams to Occupy New Research Facility and to focus on Most Critical and Deadly Diseases

University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, today announced the launch of a bold, new and unprecedented faculty recruitment initiative, Special Trans-Disciplinary Recruitment Award Program (STRAP), designed to attract top scientists to the School, and to significantly catalyze UM SOM’s focus on accelerating discoveries, cures and therapeutics for the most serious diseases that cause morbidity, mortality and disability.

The program, announced by Dean Reece in a special session of the School’s Executive Committee Meeting is the most significant and ambitious effort to recruit scientists in the School’s nearly 210-year old history. It signifies an aggressive move by the UM SOM to rise to the top most echelon of leading biomedical research institutions in the nation.

The new program is part of Vision 2020, the shared strategic goals established by the UM SOM and the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).  STRAP specifies that the UM SOM will recruit scores of well-funded teams of scientists at all faculty ranks by the year 2020.  In particular, the School will target leading researchers and physician scientists who will help to accelerate breakthrough discoveries in critical areas, including brain disorders, cancer, and cardiovascular-metabolic diseases.  This initiative will lead to rich, collaborative research program across the School, the Campus and the University System, Dean Reece noted.

To address these major disease categories, the components of the new STRAP initiative include engaging the School’s academic leaders of departments, centers, institutes and programs with targeted resources to attract and secure leading scientists, at both the senior and mid-levels.  This initiative will also leverage an external professional search firm to ensure successful recruitment of the most qualified candidates. 

The University of Maryland, Baltimore, in collaboration with the School of Medicine,  is in the midst of the construction of a 450K sq ft state-of-the art research facility on West Baltimore St., costing more than $300M, and which is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2017.  The new SOM Research Building will house among the most advanced laboratories and medical research technology found anywhere.  Dean Reece pointed out that the new building is a major asset to the School’s research portfolio and will be most appealing to leading scientists who wish to have a state-of-the-art research facility for conducting discovery-based medicine in a collaborative manner and at a very high level of sophistication.

“We are aggressively working to unravel the causes and mechanisms underlying debilitating and deadly diseases, and develop effective therapeutics, vaccines and cures,” said Dean Reece, who is also Vice President, Medical Affairs, University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor.  “Over the past decade, we have had extraordinary growth in our research programs eventuating into a formidable biomedical research enterprise.  Now, with large, new and sophisticated facilities, as well as the recruitment of expanded teams of leading biomedical scientists and physician-scientists, we are poised to accelerate the trajectory of discovery and innovation in medicine.”

According to the latest World Health Organization data, non-communicable diseases, such as brain disorders, cardiovascular-metabolic diseases, and cancers account for nearly 70% of all deaths worldwide. Overall, the leading causes of death have persisted over the past decade.  These include heart disease, cancer, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes.

With more than $400M in total extramural research funding last year, the School of Medicine now ranks among the top research intensive institutions nationally.  Key advances since the UM SOM celebrated its bicentennial in 2007 include:

  • Establishment of new individual research centers and institutes focused on the study of genomic sciences; human virology; stem cell biology and regenerative medicine; shock trauma and anesthesiology; biomolecular therapeutics, and global health;
  • Extensive research in transplantation leading to breakthroughs in face, kidney and lung transplants;
  • Breakthrough development of major vaccines for Ebola, malaria, MERS and cholera, and the start of clinical trials for a new HIV vaccine;
  • Creation of new Center for Health and Bioinformatics in collaboration with the University of Maryland, College Park to manage “big data” associated with clinical databases;
  • Roll-out of Shared Vision 2020 with the University of Maryland Medical System, establishing benchmark goals for education, research, clinical care and public outreach;
  • Launch of SOM annual research symposium , “Festival of Science,” and formation of UM SOM Scientific Advisory Council, made up of Nobel Laureates and world-renown National Academy scientists;
  • Formation of the Brain Science Research Consortium Unit – the first SOM multi-disciplinary consortium unit focusing on “big science” investigation;
  • Establishment of new centralized core laboratories to assist departments in conducting broad range of basic science and clinical studies: Center for Innovative Biomedical/ Imaging Resources (CIBR);
  • Completion of Maryland Proton Treatment Center, the most advanced form of cancer treatment and the first in the Baltimore-Washington, DC region;
  • The National Cancer Institute’s designation of the UM Greenebaum Cancer Center as a “Comprehensive Cancer Center.”
  • Construction of SOM Research Building, the largest building and research facility on the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus.

“In the face of many challenges over the past decade, we have been undaunted in purpose and resilient in execution as we achieve our goals to improve the health and wellbeing of our citizens – in the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and around the world,” Dean Reece said.   “With new facilities, the addition of expanded teams of leading scientists through our new STRAP initiative, and a multi-disciplinary approach to discovery-based medicine, we expect to make a transformative impact on debilitating and deadly diseases through our discoveries, therapeutics and cures.”

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

The University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world. http://medschool.umaryland.edu/

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