Vikas P. Sukhatme, MD, ScD, dean of the Emory College of Medicine, has announced that he will be stepping down as the school’s dean and chief academic officer at Emory Healthcare in March 2023 after five years of serving in the roles.
He will continue as a full-time faculty member in the College of Medicine, lead the Morningside Center for Innovative and Affordable Medicine (the Morningside Center) and contribute to the Clinics of the Future initiative in addition to teaching.
Emory President Gregory L. says he set ambitious goals—in training, hiring faculty, and research to treat and cure disease—and exceeded them. I am grateful for the dedication he has shown over the past five years. He elevated medical school and set it on a path to continued success.”
As dean of Emory’s largest school, Sukhatme has led more than 3,300 full- and part-time faculty and nearly 2,500 staff, including more than 1,300 residents and fellows who have trained in 112 ACGME-accredited programs. The school has over 1,000 students, 593 in the MD program and 485 studying in five academic health programs.
During his deanship, Sakhatmy’s focus has been on removing barriers to medical innovation and finding new and meaningful ways to integrate research into education and patient care—with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes worldwide.
“Vikas has been an invaluable leader across all areas of health sciences with a strong commitment to discovery, education, and patient care,” says David S. Stephens, interim Executive Vice President, Health Affairs. “While we will deeply miss his contributions and efforts as a member of the leadership team, we support Vikas’ desire to devote more time to family and are pleased that he will continue to advance Emory’s duties, particularly through his work with the Morningside Center.”
“The College of Medicine, Emory Health Care, Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and the university as a whole have all benefited from Vikas’ thoughtful leadership founded on collaboration, innovation, and excellence, his drive to increase NIH funding at SOM, as well as his knack for recruiting,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, dean and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We are grateful to Vikas for his commitment to ensuring a smooth transition and his continued guidance as we continue to build on the impressive progress he has made over the past five years.”
Stephens and Bellamconda indicated that next steps will be announced to the medical school leadership in the coming weeks in consultation with Incoming Executive Vice President, Health Affairs Ravi Thadani.
In a November 22 letter to the medical school community, Sakhatmy expressed gratitude for the community’s courage in rising to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as pride in the collective progress that has been made toward the school’s strategic plan for excellence.
In his letter, he wrote, “We’ve come a long way together…and there’s a lot of momentum and support to carry us forward.” “I have great confidence in the current and future leadership of President Fenves, Provost Bellamkonda, EVPHA David Stephens and incoming EVPHA Ravi Thadhani, as well as SOM’s outstanding leadership team…we will not miss a beat! ”
From Excellence to Excellence
Sukhatme came to Emory in 2017 from Harvard Medical School, where he served for eight years as Academic Chair and Harvard Dean of Academic Programs at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He has an extensive background in collaborative research and is a strong proponent of translational medicine.
Sukhatme has He noted that his decision to join emory medical school was motivated by the belief that we live in a unique time in the history of biomedicine, when a revolution in complementary powers is transforming the way we think about medicine. “I believed – and continue to believe – that Emory has the right blend of faculty excellence, collaborative spirit, and strategic partnerships.” It addresses some of the most intractable problems in medicine with a good chance of success,” says Sukhatmy.
To help meet these challenges, he oversaw the development of the Medical College Excellence Strategic Plan to Eminence, which included the recruitment of more than 90 outstanding faculty members, including “game innovators” whose transformative ideas in the biomedical sciences could transform the practice of medicine. At the same time, it is invested in existing faculty through programs such as Imagine, Create, Impact Awards (I3), which stimulated collaboration and new ideas. These initial grants resulted in an ROI of over 6:1 Even today.
Together with Stevens and other leaders in the health sciences field, Sokhatmy recognized the need for an enhanced research infrastructure to support the growing research enterprise, and joint leadership building and programming. Health Sciences Research Building 2Emory’s largest research building to date, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2023.
He has elevated support for innovation and entrepreneurship at Emory, often espousing the values he views as key drivers of innovation: aacceleration Baging cConnection Drata-driven, engagement and inclusion, f FUnited nations.
Of course, COVID-19 was not part of the strategic plan. “I did not foresee a global pandemic during my tenure or the turbulent times that followed, and yet each and every one of you has risen to the challenge with remarkable courage and resilience,” Sakhatmy says in a letter to the medical school community. “For that I cannot thank you enough: I am so grateful and so proud.”
Despite the challenges, the medical school research foundation continued to reach new heights under Sukhatme’s leadership, seeing significant growth in the total number of researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health and totaling $588 million in research funding in fiscal year 22.
Transform education and focus on people
The educational programs at Emory School of Medicine are highly rated and widely known for producing outstanding clinical providers and outstanding scientists. Over the past year, Sukhatme has partnered with Executive Assistant Dean J. William Eley, MD, MPH, and other stakeholders across the school to launch an “educational transformation” across all degree programs at SOM.
Incorporating fresh content and pedagogical approaches with an emphasis on lifelong learning, this shift aims to ensure that the medical school curriculum keeps up with the demands on clinicians and scientists to solve the health challenges we face today and in the future.
Under the leadership of Sukhatme, it was The medical school’s student body is becoming increasingly diverse. Thirty percent of Emory University’s current medical students identify as historically underrepresented in medicine (URiM). The first The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan for the Faculty of Medicine It was also launched and is now being implemented. “I am … very pleased with the progress of our educational transformation initiative, says Sakhatmy, and the early impact of our first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan.
He is passionate about the unique and important role clinicians and scientists must play in addressing inequality. “The world we live in today is becoming more and more fractured, but medicine has an amazing power to heal and connect – across race, across religious beliefs, across everything.“
One example of Sukhatme’s focus on innovation to make good health accessible to all is the creation of Morningside Center for Innovative and Affordable MedicineIt is an interdisciplinary unit within the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. tThe center was co-founded by Sukhatme and his wife, Vidula Sukhatme, MS, to advance research, education, and advocacy regarding the critical need to repurpose drugs and other therapies that are not being pursued due to lack of adequate financial incentives.
After the deanship, Sukhatme plans to remain active in medical school full time, leading the Morningside Center and Clinics of the Future. He will also be involved in teaching activities at the Emory College of Medicine.