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The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) is one of five campuses of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) system and is home to three schools: the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Graduate School of Nursing; a biomedical research enterprise; and a range of public service initiatives throughout the state. One of the fastest-growing academic health centers in the country, UMMS is located in Worcester, Mass., while the other UMass sites are located in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell. UMMS can alternately be referred to as UMass Worcester.UMMS is ranked fourth in primary care education among the nation’s 125 medical schools in the 2006 U.S.News & World Report annual guide, “America’s Best Graduate Schools”. UMMS is also a major center for research. In the past four decades, UMMS researchers have made advances in a broad range of disease families, from HIV and infectious diseases, to cancer and genetic disorders, to diabetes and immune disease. UMMS faculty discovered the link between the immune system and type 1 diabetes, developed cancer detection technology, found the genetic cause that underlies the third most common form of the muscular dystrophies, established the fundamental difference between HIV and other retroviruses and co-discovered RNA interference (RNAi), a naturally occurring gene-silencing process that has become a vital tool in research focused on such areas as diabetes, HIV/AIDS and cancer. Currently, UMMS scientists are making strides in collaborative efforts to develop vaccines for the avian flu, HIV and West Nile virus.
History UMMS was established by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1962 to provide residents of the Commonwealth an opportunity to study medicine at an affordable cost and to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in the Commonwealth’s underserved areas.The School of Medicine accepted its first class of 16 students in 1970. Six years later, a 371-bed hospital opened on campus, and today, the UMMS campus is home to three schools: the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, opened in 1979, and the Graduate School of Nursing, opened in 1986.
Worcester Foundation for Biomedical ResearchThe research mission at UMMS evolved in 1997 with the merger of UMMS and the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research, the Shrewsbury, Massachusetts institution where researchers developed the combined oral contraceptive pill in the early 1960s. By retaining its own board of trustees under the umbrella of UMMS, the Foundation continues to function as a nonprofit philanthropic organization that supports the research enterprise.In 1998, the UMMS system of hospitals and clinics merged with Memorial Health Care to form UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts and the clinical partner of UMMS.
School of MedicineSince accepting its first class in 1970, the School of Medicine has provided Massachusetts students with an education of the highest quality. Approximately 100 students enroll annually, and more than 2,700 students have received medical degrees from UMMS. The School of Medicine has garnered a national reputation for its primary care program and consistently ranks in the top ten percent in the annual U.S.News & World Report guide, “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” Well more than half of each graduating class enters into primary care residencies, a trend that underscores the school’s founding mission. In addition, a high number of graduates practice throughout the state.Through educational planning, development, innovation and resources, students learn the core knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that serve as the foundation for physician training at UMMS, according to the School of Medicine Web site. The institution attributes its success in training primary care physicians in part to a curriculum that emphasizes early exposure to community practice, beginning in the first year of medical school. Third-year students are required to complete an innovative clerkship rotation program in which they spend six weeks at a time with community-based physicians. The curriculum’s learning objectives are targeted at developing the foundational competencies required of all physicians today, including competency in communication, scientific, and patient and community advocacy skills.Reflective of the success of these learning objectives are the results of the annual Match Day at UMMS, when students discover where they will begin their careers as doctors. In 2006, National Resident Matching Program results showed that members of the UMMS class were accepted into some of the most competitive residency programs in the country, with 68 percent of graduates entering primary care including obstetrics & gynecology and pediatrics.
Graduate School of Biomedical SciencesA faculty-initiated PhD program, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) trains scientists in a specialty area with a broad background in the basic medical sciences in preparation for conducting research with direct relevance to human disease. According to the GSBS Web site, the GSBS offers students a multidisciplinary program of study in which they have freedom of choice in curriculum and in the selection of mentors for their graduate thesis research—an approach that is matched by very few graduate programs in the nation.Since the first class of seven students enrolled in 1979, more than 300 students have earned PhDs from the GSBS. The program, which continues to grow and evolve as new frontiers in science are discovered and explored, is gaining national and international recognition for excellence. In 2006, U.S.News & World Report ranked the GSBS 51st in the nation for excellence in PhD studies in Biomedical Sciences.
Graduate School of NursingSince the opening of the Graduate School of Nursing (GSN) in 1986, more than 600 students have obtained a nursing master’s, post-master’s or doctoral degree from the school. The GSN prepares professional and advanced practice nurses, nurse scientists and educators as leaders in nursing and health care delivery to diverse populations through education, research, practice and service, according to the GSN Web site. The theoretical foundations of nursing, research process and design, societal influences on nursing, advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, health assessment and specialty content are the basis of study at the GSN. Advanced practice nurses receive professional education and training to become adult acute/critical care nurse practitioners, adult ambulatory/community care nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurse educators. The GSN also offers subspecialty professional education and training in selected areas.
Research Over the past decade, UMMS has emerged on the national scene as a major center for research. In 1998, UMMS researcher Craig Mello, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and his colleague Andrew Fire, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, discovered RNA interference (RNAi). Drs. Mello and Fire demonstrated that small pieces of double-stranded RNA had interfered with the expression of a gene whose coding sequence of DNA was similar to that of the RNA they tested. Since the discovery of RNAi, researchers at UMMS and around the world have taken advantage of its technology to speed investigation into a variety of diseases.UMMS scientists also pioneered the fundamental elements of DNA-based flu vaccines in the 1990s. Today, UMMS Professor of Medicine Shan Lu, leader of the UMMS DNA vaccine efforts, and his colleagues have partnered with PowerMed, a British immunotherapeutics company, to advance the development of a potential avian flu vaccine. Dr. Lu’s team has also been recognized for its work in the creation of an HIV vaccine, which, in Phase I testing, was found to generate antibody and T-cell responses in otherwise healthy people not infected with HIV.The institution’s strong commitment to its research mission is reflected in its ranking of second among 10 public medical schools in the Northeast in the amount of funds awarded by the National Institutes of Health. Federal and private research grants and contracts at UMMS rose from about $2 million in 1977 to more than $174 million in 2005, putting UMMS in the top third of all research medical schools, public or private. UMMS currently supports more than 260 investigators working on advancements in the treatment of disease and injury.The UMMS portfolio of commercial ventures and intellectual property continues to reap great dividends for the institution and the University of Massachusetts system. Catapulted by the success of UMMS licenses and patents, including high profile intellectual property related to RNAi gene-silencing technology and drug and vaccine development, UMass was ranked 11th in the nation—a remarkable 1st in Massachusetts—in generating income from campus-based research and the development of new technology among universities reporting more than $10 million in income in the most recent national survey by the Association of University Technology Managers. Earnings rose from $19.8 million in fiscal year 2003 to $26.5 million in 2004, before reaching $28.7 million in 2005.
Massachusetts Biologic LaboratoriesThe Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories (MBL) is the only publicly owned, non-profit FDA-licensed manufacturer of vaccines and other biologic products in the United States. Established in 1894 by the state Board of Health to produce diphtheria antitoxin, the operations of the MBL were transferred from the state Department of Public Health to UMMS in 1997 in order to maintain the MBL’s singular focus on improving public health through applied research, development and production of biologic products.Over the years, the MBL has introduced into general use vaccines to prevent pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, and other diseases. The lab’s scientists have also pioneered plasma products to protect infants and toddlers from serious infectious diseases. In recent years, the MBL has been called upon to respond to the threat of such emerging public health issues as SARS, avian flu and rabies. During the past two decades, the MBL has also been an active participant in the national effort to develop and produce “orphan products,” which are those drugs intended for limited populations (less than 200,000 patients per year). Many of these are critical, life-saving products for those affected by a rare disease. Despite their importance, commercial manufacturers are often reluctant to invest the resources required to bring these products to market. The MBL, however, has developed or collaborated on five such products in the past 20 years. To continue such efforts, in 2005 the MBL opened a new $80 million facility for monoclonal antibody production. Its new filling suite will allow MBL to continue to fill its own products as well as offer this limited resource for both private and public needs.
GrantsThe UMASS Medical School has strategic affiliations with various healthcare organizations. Its largest publicly funded affiliate in the field of cancer research is the Quality Assurance Review Center (QARC). QARC is located in the historic Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island and conducts thousands of radiotherapy reviews per year. Supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), QARC receives radiotherapy data from around one-thousand hospitals in both the United States and abroad. Over thirty-thousand cases have been reviewed at QARC since its inception in 1977.
Public Service UMMS is extending its mission of public service through its innovative Commonwealth Medicine initiative. Commonwealth Medicine provides partnership opportunities for dozens of state and local agencies to increase the value and quality of publicly funded health expenditures and to improve access and delivery of care to at-risk and uninsured populations. Through Commonwealth Medicine, public agencies can leverage the academic, research, management and clinical resources of UMMS to optimize efficiency and effectiveness.
Faculty UMMS faculty members are nationally recognized authorities on AIDS, cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, pain control, arteriosclerosis, thyroid function, hypertension, joint replacement, organ transplantation, minimally invasive surgery, arthritis, senility and depression, among other areas. Distinguished faculty members include:
Teaching Affiliates As a complement to its education, research and public service mission, the hospital and clinical components of UMMS are part of UMass Memorial Health Care. UMass Memorial is a $1.2 billion health care delivery system with acute care hospitals, ambulatory clinics and a network of primary care physicians and specialists throughout Central Massachusetts.
Lamar Soutter LibraryNamed for the founding dean of the School of Medicine, the Lamar Soutter Library at UMMS contains more than 288,000 volumes and is the state's leading source of biomedical information via inter‑library loan. The only public medical library in the state, it is the Regional Medical Library for New England and one of only eight such regional libraries that comprise the National Library of Medicine.
Aaron Lazare Medical Research BuildingTo support the more than 260 investigators working on advancements in the treatment of disease and injury, the Aaron Lazare Medical Research Building, a , state-of-the-art research facility, opened in October of 2001. The ten-story structure, which is named for the current chancellor, expanded upon the Medical School’s existing in on-campus buildings and in the adjacent Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park.
Extended CampusThe UMMS extended campus includes the Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, and labs and offices within the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park in Worcester; sites in Shrewsbury and Auburn; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center in Waltham; and the New England Newborn Screening Program and Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories in Jamaica Plain and Mattapan.
Campus ChancellorsLamar Soutter
Deans of the School of MedicineLamar Soutter
Deans of the Program in Biomedical SciencesGeorge E. Wright
Deans of the Graduate School of Biomedical SciencesThomas B. Miller, Jr.
Deans of the Graduate School of NursingKathleen M. Dirschel
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