Harvard Medical School State of the School Address 2019

HMS Dean George Q. Daley's 2019 State of the School Address

dean daley
Dean George Q. Daley delivers the State of the School Address

Good afternoon. Welcome. I appreciate each and every one of you being here today for this State of the School Address. I take your presence as a strong sign of your commitment to the school and for that I am most grateful. So welcome and thank you to those who are watching on livestream.

January 1 marked my second anniversary as dean. Over the past two years, I’ve immersed myself in HMS. I’ve experienced moments of exhilaration; and I’ve encountered frustration and challenge. But through it all, I have been inspired by you, the members of our HMS community.

Whether in laboratories or classrooms, on hospital wards or in community health centers here in Boston and around the world, your efforts in research, teaching, clinical care and service, your relentless pursuit of excellence, and your profound commitment to making tomorrow’s world better than today’s, are why I can proudly and confidently say that the state of Harvard Medical School is strong.

My second year as dean has felt different from my first. In my first year I focused on listening and learning. I catalogued our pressing challenges and identified promising opportunities. This past year I have transitioned from listening to action, and I plan to act even more forcefully in the coming year.

Today, I want to share with you the progress we have made to date and our plans for the future. We have much to be proud of but more work lies ahead.

First, our finances: The most pressing priority when I began my deanship was addressing our school’s recurring budget deficits. In the aftermath of the financial downturn of 2008, we had sustained yearly deficits in the $30-50 million range and extracted some $400 million of principal from our endowment, which detracts from the earnings we derive from the endowment every year to support more than a quarter of our operating budget. This pattern had to be reversed. So we have enacted numerous operational changes that have set us on the path toward long-term financial sustainability.

Our most concrete—pun intended—effort to address the School’s finances this past year was the sale—or more accurately, the very long-term lease—of the Harvard Institutes of Medicine building at 4 Blackfan Circle, a nonstrategic asset in which we occupy only a quarter of the available space.

We were hoping, very optimistically, to sell the building for $220 million. Instead, because of the remarkable value of the Harvard Medical Area, we accepted a bid of $272.5 million.

The sale, which closed last June, netted a contribution to HMS coffers of $270 million. When our Chief Financial Officer Mike White sent me a screen capture showing the wire transfer, I have to say, I cheered. Mind you, it was deposited in Harvard’s bank account, not mine. The proceeds have enabled us to pay off over half of our debt, improve our cash flows by $15 million per year, and still leave us enough to cover whatever cash deficits we might incur over the next few years as we make our way back towards a balanced budget.

With operational changes and the proceeds from the sale, our cash deficit decreased from $49 million in FY16 to $22 million in FY18. We are projecting only an $11 million cash deficit in FY19 and are projecting cash flow break-even in FY 21 or 22. We aren’t there yet and must continue to make discriminating cost-cutting choices and wise management changes to enhance efficiency, but we are well on our way.

This past year also marked the close of our most recent capital fund-raising campaign, in which we received nearly 10,000 gifts and pledges and raised $789 million, exceeding our goal of $750 million. I want to express my thanks to our alumni, donors and community members near and far, to our campaign chair Joshua Boger, to Lisa Boudreau and her team at Alumni Affairs and Development, and to all the faculty, students, staff and volunteers who made this such a successful campaign. These funds have already had a tangible impact on our work in service to the world.

We are today in a much stronger financial position, and this is before we take into account the historic $200 million commitment we announced last fall, which I will address momentarily.

What this all means, ultimately, is that we are now better positioned to support you—our phenomenal faculty, students and staff—we are better resourced to recruit and develop the very best and brightest faculty and trainees from around the world and we are now empowered to enhance the impact of our school’s mission.

The stabilization of our finances has been a community-wide effort. The success follows from the diligence and dedication of our outstanding administrative team led by Lisa Muto and our disciplined financial team, led by Mike White.

The success follows from a truly collaborative partnership with our preclinical chairs, who share in decision-making about our research priorities and our deans for medical, graduate, and external education, who share in decision-making about our educational priorities.

The success owes to the commitment of administrators and staff across the campus to do more with less. And the success is thanks to all of you.

Over the past decade, we have had to collectively tighten our belts for reasons often outside our control, from the global financial crisis to the stagnation of NIH spending power. This has required your support, your cooperation and the willing engagement of every member of our community. We are united in our belief that tomorrow’s prospects will be better than todays. I am deeply grateful to all of you.

There remains a lot of hard work ahead, and there is uncertainty on the economic horizon. We must remain vigilant and continue to manage our finances with great care so that we can maintain our current upward trajectory. But there are a great many reasons to be optimistic about our school’s future.

And what favorable timing, because this coming spring, Harvard Medical School will undergo a reaccreditation review by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education or LCME.

At first glance, reaccreditation may seem a mere formality for an institution like HMS. But in reality, reaccreditation is a weighty responsibility and an enormous undertaking, particularly for the program in medical education, for faculty affairs, and for the administration and staff across all areas of the school. The standards for reaccreditation are so exacting, and the data needs so significant, that preparations have been a major focus of our administrative and academic leadership team for the entirety of the past year and will continue until the site visit at the end of March, and far beyond.

As burdensome as it sounds, the reaccreditation process is certain to spur positive change. In preparation for the reaccreditation application we have undergone an extensive institutional self-evaluation to better understand our school’s strengths and weaknesses.

We have enlisted time-consuming committee work from more than 250 faculty, staff and students and culled an overwhelming volume of data from a variety of sources, including the nearly 11,000 faculty at our clinical affiliates and from two independent student opinion surveys. Through the reaccreditation process we have built rigorous data-driven metrics and operations that will allow us to monitor our educational, research, and administrative programs and establish greater transparency, accountability and credibility for our work. This was no small task.

I want to thank our Dean of Medical Education Ed Hundert, our Executive Director of Institutional Planning and Policy Aili Lewis, members of the LCME Institutional Self-Study Task Force, and everyone who has provided invaluable feedback. This has been a truly herculean team effort, and I am so grateful for your hard work on behalf of HMS.

There’s still more work before March, but we are optimistic and excited about enacting a broad range of recommendations and improvements that will make HMS stronger.

One of the most important mandates for our reaccreditation is that HMS have in place a robust strategic plan. Strategic planning has a curious connotation, implying that our current management is neither strategic nor planned. In reality, we’ve been actively strategic and earnestly planning. But, as required by the reaccreditation process, strategic planning provokes us to pose big-picture questions of ourselves, to further refine the priorities and goals that define our mission, and to apply disciplined management practices to deliver on our aspirations.

The timing by which our reaccreditation process compelled us to launch formal strategic planning couldn’t have been better, as it coincided with my transition from being a listener in my first year as dean to becoming a manager in my second.

Starting last summer, I worked with my senior administrative and academic leadership team, the preclinical chairs, hospital CEOs and clinical department chairs, faculty council, and numerous others to articulate specific strategic priorities and goals. Then, additional inquiries were made to surface ideas and aspirations through conversations with a wide range of faculty, staff, students, administrators and other stakeholders across our school. What surfaced was a draft framework for a strategic plan.

Strategic planning flows from the foundational themes embedded within the School’s mission. We therefore reflected upon our prior mission statement: “To create and nurture a diverse community of the best people committed to leadership in alleviating human suffering caused by disease.”

While this mission statement includes laudable goals, it does not mention several essential aspects of our work, such as education and service. Therefore, it seemed a worthwhile endeavor to reframe our mission statement to better highlight our values as an institution.

HMS faculty member Peter Howley volunteered to convene a working group to study the mission statement and make recommendations.

This group—which included representatives from Quad and affiliate-based faculty, medical and PhD students, staff and administration—deliberated thoughtfully and came forward with a revised draft mission statement that was then widely circulated for commentary from across the entire HMS community.

The draft was presented in a variety of forums and meetings and appeared around our community on flipcharts that invited anonymous feedback (and some graffiti). We received hundreds of comments, and there was a remarkable degree of consensus. After numerous rounds of word-smithing, I accepted the working group’s final mission statement which now reads:

"To nurture a diverse, inclusive community dedicated to alleviating suffering and improving health and well-being for all through excellence in teaching and learning, discovery and scholarship, and service and leadership."

I want to thank Peter and the committee members for their superlative work on behalf of all of us, as well as to everyone who shared their thoughts and insights. I realize that not everyone’s suggested words appear in this statement, but I believe everyone can embrace the sentiments and aspirations of the revised statement of our collective mission.

The mission statement goes hand in hand with our vision for the School.

It is my role as Dean and that of our collective leadership to work to enable this extraordinary community to achieve the greatest impact in the areas of discovery, education and service.

In December, my Academic and Administrative Leadership Council approved the following master template for our strategic plan for submission to the LCME as part of our reaccreditation process.  While we now have a framework to inform planning across all areas of the School, please note that this remains a living document that we will continue to refine through input and participation from all of you.

Let me point out that our strategic plan recognizes five cross-cutting strategic goals:

  • To promote innovation, discovery, and academic and clinical excellence across the HMS community.
  • To leverage collaboration across HMS and our biomedical ecosystem.
  • To enable success through enhanced technology, process improvement and fiscal discipline.
  • To build a culture of diversity, inclusion, integrity and empowerment.
  • To extend the local, national and global impact of HMS to be a force for good for human health.

Every project and initiative that we identify as essential to our school’s success should draw on and contain as many of these five cross-cutting strategic goals as possible, the more the better.

Building upon our classical mission of education, research and clinical care, we have articulated three mission-level priorities that give a more expansive depiction of what we are trying to achieve: teaching and learning, scholarship and discovery, and service and leadership.

To realize these priorities, we have developed specific tactics along with targeted outcome measures and timelines that will guide our efforts. Indeed, under each of these headings, there are numerous identified tasks and objectives, and others yet to be fully articulated. Each has an owner: someone who will take responsibility for turning ideas into action.

To measure our progress and ensure that we achieve our strategic goals, I have tasked the Dean’s Academic and Administrative Leadership Council with serving as the monitoring group.

It is my intention that this formal strategic plan will provide a disciplined framework to guide our management decisions and resources.

Let me illustrate how we will translate the strategic plan into action by first looking at the mission-level priority of scholarship and discovery.

One of the main messages I’ve heard time and again since I began my tenure as dean is the need for HMS to invest in our traditional strengths in fundamental curiosity-driven research while promoting collaboration and strengthening our collective sense of community.

Recently, I was given some words of counsel by Susan Hockfield, a distinguished neuroscientist and former president of MIT. She told me this: The job of a dean is basically one of herding cats. And if you’re herding cats, it helps to have plenty of cat food.

Lisa Boudreau and her development team, working closely with HMS leadership, has focused intently on bringing in the cat food, and with the support of the historic $200M gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the future of our research community and our world-leading efforts in scholarship and discovery are as bright as they have ever been.

There is no doubt that this gift will be a source of nourishment for our feline community. The gift will support numerous key priorities from our strategic plan, including deepening fundamental discovery, investing in transformative platform technologies, enhancing data sciences and computational biology, and catalyzing collaborative discovery across HMS and the broader Harvard life sciences ecosystem.

To deepen our spirit of community and to honor this gift, we established the Blavatnik Institute at HMS. The Blavatnik Institute recognizes the unique identity of the pioneering science conducted on the HMS Quadrangle. The Blavatnik Institute unifies our research enterprise, bringing it together under one umbrella that encompasses and celebrates the work of our 11 basic and social science departments. For the governance of the Blavatnik Institute, I will be working closely with the preclinical chairs to define strategic priorities and resource allocations. 

The commitment will enable us to continue to strengthen our research community and support curiosity-driven research by supporting collaborative science pipelines through the Dean's Innovation Fund grants.

Last September, we received a slew of applications and funded 23 projects involving 51 faculty recipients with grants totaling $15 million. Emphasizing the collaborative nature of these awards, six of the projects involve collaborators from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and a quarter involve collaborators from our hospital affiliates. The new ideas that surfaced from this open call for applications has been helpful in defining new directions to be captured as priorities in our strategic planning process and is an example of how we source initiatives through outreach to the community.

The funding for these grants came initially from my Dean’s start-up funds provided by the University in support of HMS, but we are now able to augment and expand this grant program due to the gift and the overall improvements to the School’s financial situation.

A round of grants is currently being reviewed to supplement the Quadrangle Fund for Accelerating and Seeding Translational Research, Q-FASTR, which supports scientific projects that have commercial potential. We anticipate future calls for applications to support open-ended curiosity-driven research as well as strategic areas of interest related to therapeutics development and healthy aging among others. In addition, future funding will be made available for projects designed to improve administrative efficiencies, initiatives in education and diversity-related efforts.

I want to stress that the Blavatnik Family Foundation gift is predicated on our making deep investments in fundamental research but also comes with an imperative to enhance the impact of our fundamental research through translation and commercialization.

We will do this in part through our therapeutics initiative and its unifying mission of building community within HMS around therapeutics education and discovery, and promoting partnership with industry by actively engaging scientists at all career stages.

This initiative, which can now proceed with new vitality given the Blavatnik Gift, involves five primary components:

The Innovation Hub, or I-Hub, ably led by Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology Tim Mitchison, will stimulate education, training and brainstorming to define and advance highly creative and innovative approaches to the scientific pursuit of therapeutics;

The Foundry, anchored by Caroline Shamu, assistant professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, encompasses a collection of enabling technology platforms that everyone in the community can access to enhance their research and incorporate or develop novel technologies;

The Translator, to advance early-stage drug discovery in partnership with investment groups and philanthropic foundations; a search for the director of the translator is currently underway;

And finally, partnering with these three novel efforts will be the highly successful Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology and the Harvard-MIT Program in Regulatory Science which have been catalyzed by Krayer Professor of Systems Biology Peter Sorger.

The HMS Initiative in Therapeutics will catalyze communities of HMS investigators and students, as well as external experts from the biopharma community, to come together to brainstorm, to innovate and to cultivate translational ideas that emerge from our fundamental science.

Another direct imperative of the gift, aimed at strengthening the spirit of entrepreneurship at HMS, is the establishment of the Blavatnik Harvard Life Lab Longwood, a collaboration with the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab in Allston, the extremely successful biotech incubator at Harvard Business School.

The Blavatnik Life Lab will incubate start-ups that emerge from laboratories at HMS and our hospital affiliates and will nurture the entrepreneurial ambitions of our trainees, graduates and faculty.

Steve Maiorisi, our chief campus planning and facilities officer, has been exploring options for renovating existing HMS space to house the Blavatnik Life Lab in a way that will enhance functionality for our broader community. Our hope is that the Life Lab will become a convening mecca for HMS scientists and biopharma, bringing a dose of Kendall Square to Longwood. I look forward to sharing more information as this project evolves, but currently we anticipate a launch in mid-2020.

I have spoken about some of our plans for the future of scholarship and discovery at HMS. Now, let me take a moment to congratulate everyone for the collective scientific achievements of our extraordinary community over this past year.

It is unfortunately an impossible task for me to share in today’s address all the groundbreaking discoveries made, technologies invented, awards and recognitions garnered, and much, much more by our community.  In the video that ran while we were all gathering here today, we highlighted a few of the astonishing accomplishments you have made in 2018, and here I call out only some of the many extraordinary recognitions for our faculty and students. I invite you to go to the HMS website for a more robust list of those who were honored for their accomplishments this year.

I do want to take this opportunity to congratulate the HMS scientists whose work was featured just a few weeks ago by Science magazine in its 2018 Breakthrough of the Year.

This past April, teams led by HMS systems biology faculty members Allon Klein, Sean Megason and Marc Kirschner published a series of studies that revealed in unprecedented detail how frog and zebrafish embryos develop from a single cell into a multicellular organism, cell by cell, and through developmental time.

They leveraged a combination of innovative technologies, including single-cell RNA sequencing, which was developed by teams led by Marc Kirschner and Allon Klein, and by HMS and Broad Institute geneticists Steve McCarroll and Evan Macosko.

Single-cell RNA sequencing is now a widespread, transformative technology used by countless research labs and biopharma companies around the world.

As part of our vision for the Technology Foundry, Caroline Shamu, David Golan, Tim Mitchison and our research operations group have been evaluating the shared technological platforms that give our research community access to the cutting edge tools, expertise and resources we all need to make our science more impactful.

The Foundry will announce a call for applications soon to fund those of you who wish to embellish a current technology core or develop a new one.

This is just a sampling of the strides we have taken to advance our mission priority in scholarship and discovery. Let me now turn to some of the exciting progress we are making on our mission priority of teaching and learning.

Education

Over the past four years, we have been transitioning to an innovative medical education curriculum called Pathways. This May, the students from the first Pathways cohort, which began in 2015, will be graduating.

The last of the innovations of the new curriculum, namely the Clinical Capstone course, will run for the very first time this month and will provide a rigorous pre-internship bootcamp to prepare our graduates for the rigors of the wards as newly minted MDs. We have introduced other important components this past year, such as our Advanced Integrated Science Courses, which pair quad basic scientists with clinicians from our hospital affiliates to help students evaluate new research advances and incorporate them into their clinical decision making as physicians.

To aid our reaccreditation process, we have received invaluable feedback from students about this curriculum reform, particularly through two independent student surveys designed and executed by HMS students Kirstin Scott, Jessie Stuart and Adam Berger, which remarkably, because of the tremendous resourcefulness of these student leaders, garnered a 98 percent response rate. We now have a wealth of data that will help us attend to the needs of our students, make continuous quality improvements and evolve our programs so that HMS continues to set the standard for medical education.

I am thrilled for our students and I want to thank Dean Ed Hundert and everyone from our Program in Medical Education, and there are too any names to call out, but please know I recognize and value your concerted efforts that have assured a successful rollout of the new Pathways curriculum.

If we are going to transform human health and well-being, HMS needs to be the place where the most promising students want to come to be educated, trained and launched into leadership positions in biomedicine.

We are committed to recruiting students who reflect the rich diversity represented in our patient populations and who represent the brightest from all corners of the U.S. and from across the globe, regardless of socioeconomic status.

As has been true for many years at HMS, our need-based financial aid program provides scholarships that cover full tuition for any student with full financial need. And we are firmly committed to ensuring that our students graduate with as little debt as possible.

HMS has historically had among the strongest of financial aid programs of any medical school. Last year, HMS granted scholarship funds totaling $23.3 million, three times the amount, on average, provided by other private medical schools. Consequently our students graduate with the fifth lowest debt burden of all private medical schools.

But we strive to do even better. As part of our capital campaign, we established 73 new financial aid funds over the last seven years, and in the last two years have raised a total of $21M dollars to augment financial aid. Philanthropic support ensures our students will thrive here regardless of their fiscal means and gives our students the freedom to choose their career paths and the fields they strive to transform.

Second, thanks to philanthropic support, we have established the Dean’s REACH Scholarship Program, which provides supplemental scholarship funding to make it more feasible for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds to accept their offer of admission from HMS.

I am proud of the progress we have made in strengthening our financial aid programs, and in the months ahead we plan to share exciting news on further progress.

We are also committed to ensuring that we continue to innovate and evolve our graduate education programs for PhD and Masters students.

Early in my deanship, I asked for a comprehensive review of our graduate education programs. The review was recently completed and three key recommendations have emerged.

First, we recognize the need to evolve our graduate education programs to be more student-centric and to keep pace with advances in learning science. This means greater emphasis on innovative teaching, quality mentorship and diversified training activities. This means improving evidence-based assessments of our students’ needs,  progress and outcomes, as well as improving the overall learning environment.

Second, we recognize the need to equalize the services and opportunities available to our graduate students, whether they are PhD trainees in the remarkably successful Division of Medical Sciences, students in “cross-river” PhD programs shared with FAS, or master’s students.

This means providing all PhD and master’s students with full access to the services they need to achieve personal, professional and academic success. This will be an important homage to the legacy of David Cardozo, who recently stepped down after stewarding DMS for over a decade, during which time he garnered a remarkable number of teaching and mentorship awards—a testimony to his dedication to our students and a legacy we must continue.

And third, we see an opportunity to rethink our administrative and financial structures to achieve greater impact.

Regarding our master’s programs, we have developed at HMS what is arguably the premier program in bioethics and leading programs in biomedical informatics, global health delivery, medical education, health care quality and safety, immunology and clinical investigation.

We are committed to these programs and to the excellence and success of our Masters students. Educating students in these essential fields is central to our school’s mission, and we continue to invest in their growth because they extend the impact of our work and amplify our strategic priorities in teaching and learning.

When I attended the graduation ceremony for our Master’s Programs last year, I was struck by the diversity and international breadth of the trainees who earn these masters degrees, many of whom are MDs seeking additional education to enhance their career prospects in related areas of biomedicine.

As you know, David Golan has held the dual role of dean of basic science and graduate education for several years. I want to acknowledge David’s remarkable dedication to the complex and multifaceted responsibilities of this role, and his stewardship of the review of the Program in Graduate Education that delivered the recommendations I have cited.

Given the new opportunities presented by the formation of the Blavatnik Institute, I need someone with David’s considerable skills to assist me in program planning, management, and operations. Consequently, I have asked David to take on a new role, that of dean of research operations and global programs, with the responsibility for implementing many of the new initiatives enabled by the Blavatnik gift, while continuing to steward the many existing research and global programs on the Quad.

Consequently, and given the importance of graduate education and the need to interpret, prioritize and operationalize the recommendations of the review, I am launching a search for a new dean of graduate education and will be seeking applications in the coming weeks.

In a similar vein, our Office for External Education led by Dean David Roberts continues to expand our school’s voice through innovative programs in postgraduate education, executive education, online learning and health publishing. By supporting a wide range of learners, from clinicians and business leaders to patients and families, our external education programs are an important component of our educational mission, and we are committed to continuing to grow and evolve them.

To further enrich the student experience at HMS, we have completed a number of infrastructure improvements and anticipate still more. We recently completed two major renovations to the Tosteson Medical Education Center—a new study and collaboration center adjoining the TMEC atrium—which was designed for all medical, dental and graduate students to share, and a new student support center that brings a variety of offices for student services together into close proximity, creating a one-stop shopping experience, if you will, for our students. And I am pleased to announce that we have just hired Timothy Rogers, our new full-time director of disability services.

In line with our campus revitalization efforts, we have aspirations for creating more shared spaces for our students and broader community, with a special focus on Countway Medical Library. 

I recently approved a proposal for extensive renovations to the entry level and second floor of the Countway, which aims to create more multipurpose collaborative spaces, facilitate 24-hour access and establish both a COOP branch and a café. I am excited for the prospects of this additional community convening space. Construction will begin later this year.

Infrastructural improvements are critical, but ultimately the foundation of our school lies in our community.

Our deep commitment to our community, and especially our culture of diversity and inclusion, is enshrined in our mission. This commitment is reflected in our medical student classes, which have increased in diversity every year for the past four years. Women represent 58 percent of this year’s class, for example, and 24 percent come from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine. I am also proud to note that we have received a major grant to develop a model curriculum for LGBTQ health, making HMS a pioneer in this emerging medical discipline.

It is critical for us to celebrate our diversity and chart a course for improvement so that our school continues to nurture the very best in science, education, patient care and service.

To inform and guide our strategic plan, I asked our legendary Dean Joan Reede to create a broad Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. She recruited a large and dedicated group, which has worked diligently for over a year to develop policies and tactics to improve cultural awareness, diversity and inclusion at our school. Multiple subcommittees have been meeting and making recommendations, and this past November, the Faculty Council formally approved the refreshed HMS diversity statement.

I encourage you all, if you have not done so already, to read the statement in full which appears on the HMS website 

One example of our efforts at broader inclusiveness can be found in some new art and imagery that adorns our halls. Many of you joined us when we unveiled a bust of Alice Hamilton, the first female faculty member at HMS and one of the most inspirational figures in the storied history of our school.

That celebration represented the first step of an initiative to refresh our artwork so we can celebrate our school’s current diversity while retaining a respect for our past traditions. This project will be guided by the Arts and Cultural Representation Committee, led by HMS faculty member and Vice Chair of the Faculty Council Nawal Nour and Dean for Students Fidencio Saldaña.

Community lies at the heart of our efforts to further our mission-level priority of service and leadership. This past year has seen some significant changes in our preclinical departments, in particular the appointment of four new chairs.

In November, we bid farewell to our Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, and celebrated the birth of two new departments, the Department of Immunology and the Department of Microbiology.

The establishment of these two independent departments befits two vibrant scientific communities and is a natural consequence of our rapidly evolving understanding of the complexity and importance of both disciplines in modern biomedicine.

The new departments are chaired by two phenomenal leaders. Immunology is being led by Arlene Sharpe, and Microbiology by Ann Hochschild. Congratulations to Arlene, Ann, and everyone in your new departments.

Galit Lahav now serves as the chair of the Department of Systems Biology, succeeding Marc Kirschner, who served as founding chair of the department since its establishment in 2003. Thank you, Marc, for your many years of distinguished leadership, and congratulations, Galit, as you lead your department forward into its very bright future.

Paola Arlotta has recently been appointed chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, which we share with the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Importantly, Amy Wagers has been appointed co-chair with a particular responsibility for stewarding SCRB faculty on the Quadrangle and across Longwood. Congratulations, Paola and Amy.

And I want to congratulate the Department of Health Care Policy, which in December celebrated its 30th anniversary in an event headlined by keynote speaker Kathleen Sebelius, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The celebration included a letter from former President Barack Obama, who sent his thanks and congratulations to Barbara McNeil, founding chair of the department, and to the incredible community of Health Care Policy.

Indeed, in addition to those I’ve mentioned, I am blessed by the support of a remarkable scientific leadership team of chairs including Mike Greenberg, Cliff Tabin, Zak Kohane, Steve Blacklow, Wade Harper and Paul Farmer.

We continue to cultivate and strengthen our partnerships with our clinical affiliates, which represent some of the greatest centers for patient care and biomedical innovation in the world.

With our hospital partners, we have committed to co-investing in joint projects that benefit the whole community, such as the Cryo-EM Center.

Expectations for the deployment of the Blavatnik Family gift spur us to further engage and stimulate our relationship with our clinical partners.

We have worked closely with the hospitals for our reaccreditation. Our institutional self-study highlighted the key role of our clinical faculty who oversee education at the six hospitals that host the vast majority of our core medical student clerkships. I am grateful for our privileged relationship with these great centers of clinical excellence. It is only through working together that we can enable the greatest possible impact in teaching and learning, scholarship and discovery, and service and leadership.

As I bring this State of the School Address to a close, I want to speak plainly about what I have learned and what remains in my education and maturation as dean. There is much work left to be done, and I will be candid. I, perhaps like you, feel frustration. I, perhaps like you, want the pace of transition and progress to be faster.

I will be the first to admit that I am still learning how to become a better manager of people and process. I am trying in earnest, but I acknowledge that I am making mistakes and miscalculations. Many of you know that my wife, conveniently, is a professor of leadership at Harvard Business School, and she has given me much helpful counsel. She has emphasized to me the importance of intelligent failure. Leaders need to take risks and do experiments, some of which will inevitably fail,  but one must learn from these failures, my wife has stressed to me that intelligent failure occurs only once. … If it happens again, it’s not intelligent.

In the coming year, and in the future, I will be launching many more experiments and fully expect that some will be failures. I can assure you I remain earnestly committed to learning, growing and becoming more capable as a leader and more competent at managing the many challenging problems of this community. In this spirit, I invite your constructive feedback and want to hear from anyone who can help me to learn from my unintelligent failures.

But I want to end on a positive note, because there can be no doubt that we have made considerable progress and we are blessed with the resources to make hearty investments to enable all of you to do your good work. Today, I am more optimistic about the future of our school than ever.

HMS is a special and unique place. Every day I witness your deep and profound appreciation for the privilege we enjoy in being here.  Time and again, students, faculty and staff have expressed to me their sense of pride, humility and gratitude for being part of this extraordinary community.

We collectively own the responsibility to do even better, and the possibilities before us are infinite.

Everyone of you has a part to play, and I am so grateful to be on this journey with you.

Let’s all come together and make it happen.