AY20 State of the School

Dear Colleagues,

We clearly live in interesting times. The past six months have been medically challenging and anything but normal. Nevertheless, in the spirit of “never waste a good crisis,” we have learned a number of new skills, because we had to, which turned out to be more effective than we ever would have imagined.

Many thanks to faculty, staff and students for your creativity, patience and persistence as curricula were redesigned and faculty and students pivoted to remote teaching together over a two-week learning curve. We graduated our medical students early at the governor’s request so they could assist on the front lines. Research ramped down and then back up. Buildings have been reconfigured for physical distancing, and discovery and learning continue, in the great tradition of universities over the last thousand years, despite pandemics, natural disasters and wars.

Facilities, IS&T, HR, Student Health, Environmental Health & Safety and Educational Media, building coordinators and others have been appropriately recognized for working to provide the safest possible environment for our community.

The disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black and Latinx communities and then the senseless deaths of Black Americans in altercations with the police led to heightened awareness of systemic, structural racism in our society and a second crisis over the summer. We are committed to working together as a Medical Campus and University community to be diverse, equitable and anti-racist, building on our history of inclusion and commitment to social justice.

As we begin the next academic year and faculty and students return to the labs and classrooms, I’d like to summarize our progress in the 2019-20 school year.

Faculty Honors

Many of our faculty have received well deserved recognition. For a list of faculty who received national and international honors this year, click here.

  • David Coleman, MD, John Wade Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, received the Robert H. Williams, MD, Distinguished Chair of Medicine Award from the Association of Professors of Medicine (APM).
  • Shoumita Dasgupta, Professor of Medicine, was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Award to Egypt at Ains Shams University.
  • Deborah Frank, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, received the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Award for Excellence.
  • Ann McKee, MD, William Fairfield Warren Professor of Neurology and Pathology and Director of the BU CTE Center, was named a 2019 Service to America Medalist and received the Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement Medal from the Partnership for Public Service.
  • Vaishali Sanchorawala, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Amyloidosis Center, was elected secretary of the International Society of Amyloidosis.
  • Joshua Barocas, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, received the Herbert W. Nickens Faculty Fellowship, an annual award by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) for a junior faculty member demonstrating leadership in addressing disparities in medical education and health care.

Research Publications

BUSM faculty continue to receive significant press coverage for their exceptional published research:

  • Tom Perl’s study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Societyfound long-term care facilities are a major driver of total COVID-19 deaths.
  • Ali Guermazi’s study in the journal Radiologyfound accelerated arthritis and joint destruction can be the unintended result of intra-articular corticosteroid injections.
  • Neelam Vashi’s study in the Aesthetic Surgery Journalfound the average American woman’s waist circumference and dress size has increased over the past 20 years while Victoria’s Secret fashion models have become more slender.
  • Lewina Lee’s study in in PNASfound that individuals with greater optimism were more likely to live longer and to achieve exceptional longevity.
  • Ann McKee and Jesse Mez’s study in the Annals of Neurologyfound CTE risk and severity increases with the number of years playing American football.

New Research Grants

BUSM ended the 2020 academic year (AY20) with a 7 percent increase in research funding over AY19 (which exceeded AY18 research funding by 19 percent).

  • David Center, MD, Associate Provost for Translational Research, Professor of Medicine, received a $32M renewal from the NIH/National Center for our Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute.
  • Ann McKee, MD, William Fairfield Warren Professor of Neurology and Pathology, received a 5-year, $10M award from the NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for Traumatic Brain Injury and Repetitive Head Impacts: Contributions to AD/ADRD and CTE Neuropathology and Resulting Clincal Syndromes.
  • Tom Perls, MD, Professor of Medicine, received a 2-year, $9M award from the NIH/National Institute on Aging for Identifying Protective Omics Profiles in Centenarians and Translating These Into Preventive and Therapeutic Strategies.
  • David Felson, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine, received a 2-year, $3.5M NIH P30 Center Grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases for the Boston University Core Center for Clinical Research.
  • Christine Cheng, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology, and Suryaram Gummuluru, PhD, Professor of Microbiology, have received a 2-year, $3.4M award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Synergistic Mechanism of Chronic Innate Immune Activation in Microglia by Opiates and HIV Infection.
  • Joanne Murabito, MD, Professor of Medicine, and Kathryn Lunetta, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics, SPH, received a five-year $3.4M award from the NIH/National Institute on Aging for the Role of Peripheral Immune Cells in Cognitive Aging: The Framingham Offspring Study.

 Foundation awards of note:

  • Rhoda Au, PhD, Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, received a $2.8 million grant from the American Heart Association and Bill Gates to develop a Brain Health and Dementia Technology Research Center.
  • Ben Wolozin, MD, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology and Neurology, and Mo Khalil, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, received $1m from the BrightFocus Foundation to study the interplay between gene feedback circuits and tau aggregation.
  • Deborah Lang, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, received $250,000 from the Harry J. Lloyd Charitable Trust for melanoma research; Neil Ganem, PhD, also received $200,000 from the Trust for melanoma research.

Click here to read the latest news from our associate deans, chairs, center and institute directors.

Best wishes for an exciting and productive new academic year.

Karen H. Antman, MD
Provost, BU Medical Campus
Dean, School of Medicine