Testimony in Topeka

February 08, 2013

Doug Girod
Douglas Girod, M.D. Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs

Thanks to everyone for all of your support - it's been an action-packed first week, and I'm grateful to everyone for your words of encouragement and wisdom.

As much as I want to tell you about every meeting I've had in the last seven days, I'll focus on Thursday. It was KU in the Capitol, the annual day when we showcase all the ways the university benefits Kansans and thank policymakers for their support. We hosted a breakfast for policymakers and their staffs, as well as Jayhawk alumni and leaders from across the university. I was pleased to see KU Medical Center students delivering first-aid kits and cookies to legislators in their offices - that was really great. Cancer Center Director Roy Jensen and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little honored Sen. Susan Wagle - who has survived two battles with lymphoma and recently spent months undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma before being given a clean bill of health this past fall - with the Cancer Center's 2013 Leadership Award. Dr. Jensen was later honored on the floor of the House and Senate with standing ovations for his leadership in earning NCI designation.

I wasn't there just to have fun, however. At an early morning session, Chancellor Gray-Little and I presented testimony before the Senate Ways & Means Subcommittee on Education. The Chancellor gave an overview of all of the ways in which KU is striving to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make world-changing discoveries. It's a challenge to continue the university's progress and contribute to the prosperity and well-being of our state while keeping budgets flat, but KU is doing an impressive job on all counts - you can read the Chancellor's testimony here.

I spoke about the KU Health Education Initiative and our hopes of building a new health education facility on the Kansas City campus, designed specifically for the modern curriculum in which students from medicine, nursing and health professions learn as teams, using state-of-the-art simulation equipment. A new building would also allow us to educate even more future health care providers.

In my first message as Executive Vice Chancellor last week, I made three specific promises to Kansans. We will:

1. Expand the 21st century health care workforce for Kansas
2. Become a top 25 school of medicine in the U.S. News rankings
3. Be recognized as a national leader in biomedical research.

My testimony was about that first promise - and it was well-received. I was asked only one question: How soon could we get it built and move in? I told them that if all goes according to plan, we could have students in the new building by 2017. (You can read my testimony here.)

I also met with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer's and Gov. Sam Brownback's leadership teams, and then visited the House floor, where I met many legislators and had good conversations about how we are looking forward to working together. Legislators clearly appreciate the value of our work, and I'm grateful for their enthusiasm and support.

I got back to Kansas City just in time to stop at our Clinical Research Center in Fairway for the end of an incredible session put on by Rick Barohn and Lauren Aaronson, leaders of Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. They were hosting Christopher Austin, M.D., Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), who is visiting each of the country's 61 Clinical and Translational Science Award sites. He was accompanied by Elaine Collier, M.D., who is the Acting Co-Director of the NCATS Division of Clinical Innovation. Dr. Austin was incredibly complimentary of how far KU Medical Center has come in a short time, and of Dr. Barohn's and Dr. Aaronson's ability to collaborate with so many other institutions and organizations in our community. (I reminded him that this accomplishment is even more impressive considering that those collaborations cross a state line.)

Congratulations to Drs. Barohn and Aaronson and their entire team for putting on such a fantastic event. My third promise to the people of Kansas is that we will be recognized as a national leader in biomedical research - and with events such as the one at Frontiers yesterday, we're already doing that.

Last modified: Feb 08, 2013