Moving Medicine Forward

In the words of President Kaler, “Excellence is a matrix, not a vector.”

For some of us, the first thing that comes to mind when we hear "matrix" is a rather dystopian action movie, so I am adding a (selectively edited) dictionary definition:

"an environment in which something develops"

The more I think about this idea, the more I find it applies to the Medical School.

Our mission, to combine our scientific and clinical strengths to deliver the best in innovative, accountable, compassionate care to our patients and to impact the field of medicine for all, definitely requires a matrix of support.

Clinical practice alone does not move the practice of medicine forward. Research does that. It provides the foundation for everything. Acting like roots, research spreads in all directions, sometimes back into the origins and functions of things, sometimes forward into new uses and applications, sometimes laterally as we attempt to repurpose things that have been already discovered. It anchors our efforts as the basis for education and training. It is the legacy of an academic institution.

Research is also key to our identity in the public’s mind. We are remembered for our discoveries, our firsts: the first heart-bypass machine, the first implantable pacemaker, the first successful unrelated bone marrow transplant, etc. It is foundational to our matrix and how we serve our community. This is the way we write ourselves into the fabric of history.

To give patients the best care, to find solutions when there are no therapies, and to provide hope for the future, we have to have active and rigorous research. We need the physician-scientist at the bedside, we need the interdisciplinary teams, we need fluency in basic and clinical science, we need to train and encourage the next generation of researchers. It is not enough to give patients the best-known therapies, we need to create better ones.

Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
Dean of the Medical School, interim Vice President of the Health Sciences