Message from the Chancellor

Chancellor Collins

Michael F. Collins, MD
Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences University of Massachusetts

Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences
University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) is unique as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ only public academic health sciences center. UMMS brings together an extraordinary community of faculty, students and staff who provide state-of-the-art education, conduct ground-breaking research and take the lead in public service initiatives in the commonwealth and around the globe.

School of Medicine students benefit from studying at an institution at the forefront of scientific advancement, one that attracts more than $200 million in research funding annually and consistently produces noteworthy advances in basic and clinical research. In 2006 UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was awarded the Nobel Prize with colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, of Stanford University, for their discovery of RNA interference (RNAi). Since their seminal paper published in Nature detailed the process for silencing genes at will, the technology of RNAi has been widely applied. Scientists realize that if RNAi is used to shut down disease-causing genes, then development of promising new therapeutics can result. Recognized as a global center for RNA-related research and collaboration, UMass Medical School boasts a growing cadre of internationally renowned faculty with expertise in this field.

Now that the commonwealth has launched its exciting life sciences initiative, the “life sciences moment” is unfolding at UMMS. The 2008 ten-year, $1 billion Massachusetts Life Sciences Bill calls upon our institution to play a critical role in life sciences research, discovery, development and education in Massachusetts, notably through establishment of the Advanced Therapeutics Cluster (ATC). To be housed in the Albert Sherman Center, a new research and education building slated for ground-breaking in 2009, the ATC will bring together some of the best minds in the world focused on creating new therapies for debilitating diseases through three integrated research programs—the Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine; the RNAi Institute; and the Gene Therapy Center.

The Advanced Center for Clinical Education and Science (ACCES), another facility close to completion on the UMMS campus, is poised to support our mission of education, research discovery and clinical translation. ACCES offers a unique complement of patient care clinics and education and translational research programs. For example, the seven- story, 258,000-square-foot building will house the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, established in 2008. The new department, which fosters collaboration among existing clinical and basic science entities, with the goal of shortening the time between laboratory breakthroughs and clinical applications, is integral to UMass Medical School’s education and research vision and aligns with recently identified priorities of the National Institutes of Health.

At the same time UMMS advances scientific innovation, it continues to be a leader in educating the health care providers of the future. Our goal is to educate graduates who will become compassionate healers. We assure that our students possess the requisite knowledge, skills and values as they strengthen their natural talents and desires to care for others, with a special emphasis on primary care as we strive to meet the health care needs of the underserved. Our commitment has been strengthened with the development of a strategic plan for our academic health sciences center, comprising UMass Medical School and our clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care, to carry out our common purpose to serve the public interest both locally and globally.

Amid all these exciting new developments, our guiding principles remain unchanged and unwavering: In all that we do, we place the highest priority on respect for the dignity and diversity of every member of our community and remain fully committed to supporting our students’ professional, intellectual and emotional growth so they may have the opportunity to fulfill their potential and achieve their professional goals. It is my pleasure to welcome you as you explore how joining our community can help you fulfill your dreams of becoming a physician or physician-scientist.