In 2015, Feinberg garnered $402.7 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other sponsors to support faculty research, the most in the medical school’s history. It’s an impressive achievement, all the more so considering the unevenness of the nation’s current funding climate. In the current academic year, we estimate yet another 10 percent growth. This is clear recognition of the outstanding and innovative ideas from our investigators.

In July, President Obama and the NIH announced that Northwestern has been selected as one of four regional medical centers to lead a consortium of local institutions in a landmark precision medicine initiative. The program aims to enroll at least 1 million Americans to improve disease prevention and treatment measures based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics. The consortium grant will mean $51 million over five years to Northwestern and our partners.

Northwestern was chosen as a leader for this important initiative because we have not only the research talent, the infrastructure and the clinical affiliates to support it, but also because we know that the future of medicine means finding new ways to bring discoveries to the bedside. We know that new technology has led to an incredible scientific revolution, but one that will only translate to patient care if our laboratories and clinics work together. The Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse, a joint initiative across Feinberg and Northwestern Memorial Healthcare that stores data on more than 8.4 million unique patients to facilitate research and health care, is just one example of this philosophy in action. Our new Center for Diabetes and Metabolism is another, integrating patient care with research spanning from biology to prevention interventions to clinical trials testing new therapies.

…we know that the future of medicine means finding new ways to bring discoveries to the bedside. We know that new technology has led to an incredible scientific revolution, but one that will only translate to patient care if our laboratories and clinics work together.

The medical school’s basic scientists are also at the forefront of discovery, pioneering novel strategies and technologies that could fundamentally reshape our approach to diseases and their treatment. Synthetic biology is one field with incredible promise to forge clever new inno­vations, using tools and concepts from physics, engineering and computer science to build biological systems. Scientists, including Milan Mrksich, PhD, director of Northwestern’s Center for Synthetic Biology and a professor of Cell and Molecular Biology, are reprogramming cells to take on new properties for generating advanced biomaterials and targeted therapeutics.

In other sectors of our portfolio, I’d like to recognize the stellar accomplishments in our research programs related to patient-centered outcomes. Investigators like David Cella, PhD, chair of Medical Social Sciences, and faculty in his department are refining the way we can measure and interpret patient outcomes in the clinical setting. We hope these efforts, as they are validated, will allow us to strengthen our electronic medical record in ways that advance clinical care.

Finally, the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Outstanding Investigator Award, given to four Feinberg faculty members to date, has been a notable honor acknowledging the medical school’s leadership in the scientific community. Navdeep Chandel, PhD, professor of Medicine in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Marcus Peter, PhD, professor of Medicine in Hematology/Oncology, Ali Shilatifard, PhD, chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, and Maciej Lesniak, MD, chair of Neurological Surgery, have each received seven-year, $6.4 million grants from the NCI for their significant contributions to the field of cancer biology and to support projects with great potential to move the field even further forward.

Learn more about synthetic biology, our Center for Diabetes and Metabolism, Enterprise Data Warehouse and new precision medicine grant in this issue of Northwestern Medicine Magazine, and keep in mind these projects are just a few examples of Feinberg’s commitment to progress. The many new awards from our funding agencies enable us to continue to make transformative contributions to the field of medicine.

 

With warm regards,

 

Eric G. Neilson, MD
Vice President for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean,
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine