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Health Center Today, July 28, 2011

Bioscience Connecticut Update

Photo of the UConn Health CenterThis message from UConn President Susan Herbst was sent to Health Center employees July 28.

Bioscience Connecticut is an important component of Governor Dannel P. Malloy's plan to jump start Connecticutís economy by creating construction-related jobs immediately and generating long term sustainable economic growth based on bioscience research, innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization. It is a multifaceted plan that will strengthen our state's position as a national and global center for bioscience innovation and improve access to quality healthcare for Connecticut citizens while simultaneously securing the UConn Health Center's future as a top tier academic medical center.

The University appreciates the pivotal role it will play in this economic development and public health initiative Ė and we remain grateful to the Governor and the General Assembly for their investment and confidence. Important steps have already been taken to organize our efforts to assure the timely implementation of Bioscience Connecticut and to establish performance measures to track job creation, research growth, related economic expansion, including new business formations, improved access to quality health care and other key outcomes.

We are already actively proceeding with plans to implement the initiativeís construction-related projects, which include:

  • A new hospital tower to be constructed by late 2015
  • Renovations to John Dempsey Hospital to be completed in early 2018
  • Renovations to the existing lab space in the main building to be completed in two phases, by early 2014 and by mid-2016
  • The first phase of a new Ambulatory Care Center to be constructed by mid-2014

A Steering Committee, providing financial, design and operational direction for the projects, and Building Committees, providing detailed program designs, have been convened and are making progress, supported by the work of several subcommittees. In addition, a Project Staffing Plan and a Project Management Plan have already been developed.

The construction-related projects will support a series of programmatic initiatives designed to double the Health Centerís annual research expenditures, translate our bioscience discoveries into new technologies to strengthen and grow Connecticut businesses and improve clinical treatments, and increase the number of physicians and dentists practicing in Connecticut.  The programmatic components include:

  • Recruiting 100 new faculty (90 clinician-scientists, and 10 basic scientists)
  • Doubling our business incubator space
  • Expanding the School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine class sizes by 30 percent
  • Implementing a loan forgiveness program for UConn medical and dental school graduates who pursue careers in primary care in Connecticut

Also, considerable work will be done to launch the community-based elements of the initiative, which represent a significant commitment to community outreach. The most visible component on the Health Center campus, the regionalization of neonatal services with Connecticut Children's Medical Center, will be finalized in September. Other programs include the Health Disparities Institute; the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care, a joint project with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center; a simulation and conference center at Hartford Hospital; a comprehensive cancer network across our regionís hospitals; and other programs involving the Hospital for Central Connecticut, Bristol Hospital and community-based healthcare providers in Hartford.

The success of Bioscience Connecticut requires ongoing collaborations with health care providers, such as our partner teaching hospitals, community based health providers and the VA, academic colleagues on the Storrs Campus and at Yale, and industry and business groups including Chambers of Commerce, CURE, CBIA and others. Similarly, we will continue to maintain regular and thorough dialogues with the Governorís office and the General Assembly and close collaboration with a vast array of statewide and regional interests, including the town of Farmington and the cities of Hartford, New Britain and Bristol.

I have asked Tom Callahan, who has served as the Health Centerís Interim Chief of Staff since late 2009, to lead the implementation of Bioscience Connecticut. In this capacity, he will report to me and the Health Centerís Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the Medical School. Among Tomís immediate short term assignments is to organize and align the Health Centerís and Universityís resources to properly support this effort and to provide a comprehensive roadmap Ė including organization, metrics and milestones Ė to ensure its success.

No doubt, there is a substantial amount of work before us but also unprecedented opportunities for our Health Centerís unique assets to further the stateís economic and public health interests. I am confident that we will be diligent and focused on delivering results to move Connecticut forward and to advance the UConn Health Center into the top echelons of public academic medical centers.

Sincerely,

Susan Herbst
President, University of Connecticut