Page 1

D E A N ’ S RE P O RT 2020

An Amazing


Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Milestones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Diversity Initiatives. . . . . . . . . . . 16 Investing in Excellence . . . . . . . 22 Research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 What’s Next?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Since 2013, the Division of Biology and Medicine, which comprises the Program in Biology and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, has been reinvented. It is a place where future physicians and scientists learn to ask and answer questions to advance science. It’s a place where world-class researchers come together to discover new paradigms of biology and change the world. This report shares highlights from these years of change and the vision for continued growth.



Jack A. Elias, MD Senior Vice President for Health Affairs Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Frank L. Day Professor of Biology Professor of Medicine


2020 Dean’s Report

A Strategic Plan for Deciphering Disease Upon arriving at Brown in 2013, I began outlining a vision for the future of the Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown University. Working with stakeholders across the Division, our affiliated hospital partners, alumni, students, parents, and friends, we developed a strategic plan that builds on the Division’s existing strengths, capitalizes on our connections with affiliated hospitals, community partners, and other disciplines at Brown, and harnesses the University’s tradition of collaboration across fields of study.

Pivot Point Like the rest of the world, our plans shifted once the coronavirus pandemic struck Rhode Island. Our community came together with a resounding response to the crisis, and I could not be more proud. Many of our faculty were on the front lines, caring for the most critically ill patients. Medical students staffed information lines and conducted contact tracing, and 48 opted to graduate early so they could help even more. You’ll read more about these and coronavirus-related research later in this report.



A Brown tradition: the MD Class of 2022 enters the Van Wickle Gates during Convocation.




Record of Achievement Since 2013, we have launched numerous initiatives that are significantly enhancing medical education and research in the Division of Biology and Medicine. Here are just a few of those accomplishments.


The Medical School has recruited

8 new department leaders since 2013.

The Primary Care – Population Medicine MD-ScM Program was established to increase the

number of primary care physicians and create thought leaders in the emerging field of population medicine who will drive change in their communities.


2020 Dean’s Report


Brian Kwan MD’17 practices ultrasound techniques with Associate Dean for Medical Education Paul George, MD.


Gateways to Medicine, Health Care, and Research launched to prepare academically

promising, motivated students for careers in research or health care with a master’s degree in medical science.

The MD/Master of Public Affairs Dual Degree Program partnered with Brown’s

Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs to train physician leaders who will analyze policy and lead changes that will benefit patients.




6 Warren Alpert Medical School foundations:


Brown Dermatology Brown Emergency Medicine Brown Medicine Brown Neurology Brown Surgical Associates Brown Urology



To better integrate patient care, research, and education across Rhode Island’s health care sector

Brown University


The Warren Alpert Physician-Scientist MD/PhD and Advanced Training Program was relaunched on the strength of an endowed gift that provides tuition support for all four years of medical school.

A collaboration with Lifespan and Brown

Medicine established the Pediatric and Adult Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology Clinic. This led to the recruitment of its director,

Tao Zheng, MD, to provide comprehensive, stateof-the-art care to patients in Rhode Island.


2020 Dean’s Report


Naz Karim, MD, MS, a Brown Emergency Medicine physician, examines a patient.


Six of the faculty practice foundations affiliated with the Medical School came together to form the physician-led

Brown Physicians, Inc., uniting more than 500 faculty members.

Anesthesiology moved from divisional to departmental status and established a highly successful residency program. Gildasio De Oliveira Jr., MD, was named inaugural chair and chief of anesthesiology at Lifespan and Brown.




Top 10 in Student Selectivity since 2013


Brown expanded its affiliation agreement with Care New England to designate

Kent Hospital as a major affiliated teaching hospital for activities in

primary care medicine.

15 faculty members were named the inaugural Dr. Mary B. Arnold Mentors, serving as responsive, accessible resources to all Warren Alpert medical students. The program was made possible by an endowed gift.


2020 Dean’s Report


The MD Class of 2019 marches out of the Van Wickle Gates.


The Warren Alpert Medical School became the first in the country whose graduates all have the training required to prescribe medications to treat opioid use disorder in any US state.

Graduates of The Warren Alpert Medical School are accepted into the nation’s most competitive residency programs. 36% of the MD Class of

2019 went to programs affiliated with top-10 medical schools.






A call to action



N95 masks donated

of tests made possible

along with gloves, gowns, face shields, and other PPE, by Brown’s labs, the Environmental Health and Safety office, even the Library.

by viral transport medium solution mixed and donated by technicians in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.




medical students graduated early

of gallons of hand sanitizer produced

to begin treating patients.

by BioMed and the Department of Chemistry and donated to local hospitals.

2020 Dean’s Report

“What can I do to help?” That’s the question every member of the Brown community asked when COVID struck. And the answers were as novel as the virus.

Professor of Medicine Mitchell M. Levy, MD, and Professor of Medicine Leonard A. Mermel, DO, ScM, helped write worldwide guidelines with the Surviving Sepsis Campaign to protect both health care workers and critically ill patients with COVID-19.

Professor of Medicine Mitchell M. Levy, MD, and Assistant Professor of Medicine Erica J. Hardy, MD, joined a management guidelines panel to provide frequent updates on the treatment of patients with COVID-19, in conjunction with the White House task force.

The Miriam Hospital, under the direction of Professor of Medicine Karen Tashima, MD, became a clinical trial site for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Professor of Medicine Angela Caliendo, MD, PhD, coauthored the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s COVID testing guidelines.

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Adam Levine, MD, MPH, is site principal investigator for a Brown/Lifespan arm of a multicenter COVID-19 convalescent plasma clinical trial, one of the first in the US. Milestones


Megan Ranney, MD, MPH, became a national voice calling for health care worker protections during the pandemic.

When US Medical Licensing Exam testing sites had to close abruptly due to COVID-19, Warren Alpert Medical School leaders worked with the National Board of Medical Examiners to become the first regional testing site in the country. Nearly 500 students from New England medical schools came to Brown to take the exams, under the same rigid testing protocols and with strict physical distancing. Faculty established the Lifespan/Brown COVID-19 Biobank at Rhode Island Hospital for blood products from positive and negative tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus; it will be available statewide for COVID-19 research. The project is aided by the Advance-CTR research hub based at Brown. The Brown group is helping the CTR organization in Nebraska set up a similar biorepository plan. The Office of Continuing Medical Education certified COVID-19 initiatives ­­— including the Rhode Island Department of Health weekly Provider Update Calls, the Decoding COVID seminar series, and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior mental health seminars — so health care providers could earn relicensure credits while getting the latest information on the pandemic.


2020 Dean’s Report

Local ideas make nationwide impact

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Megan Ranney, MD, MPH, an outspoken national advocate for health care worker safety, cofounded this grassroots movement and testified to Congress that the US must increase PPE manufacturing and ensure its equitable distribution.

Med student protocol

Medical students helped the Rhode Island Department of Health with contact tracing, informing people of their test results, and answering questions on the COVID hotline. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement shared the students’ workflow and contact tracing scripts in an article shared more than 14,000 times to help other medical students implement these methods in their own states.

connecting PPE donors with health systems

becomes widely used model

>1k devices collected

to keep patients in touch with families

Students and faculty volunteered with two organizations to collect used smartphones, tablets, and laptops for isolated hospital patients and long-term care facility residents in Rhode Island and beyond.




Diversity Initiatives

MD Class of 2023 17

Excellence Through Diversity The Division of Biology and Medicine is working to create a learning environment that’s more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and representative of the communities we serve. Diversity and Inclusion Across the Division The Warren Alpert Medical School supports our diverse community and stands in strong opposition to the oppressive forces of structural racism and systemic injustice. In response to concerns raised by medical student affinity groups, the Medical School has outlined numerous initiatives to address the treatment of race in the curriculum; to provide inclusive education including required training for faculty and staff; and to increase efforts to recruit more faculty and students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in medicine (URiM).

Sponsored Programs The Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA) sponsors multiple programs that serve students, housestaff, and faculty. • ODMA Faculty Association • Minority Housestaff Association • Mentoring Families Program (MEDSTEP), a tiered mentorship program that groups students, residents, and fellows who identify as URiM into faculty-led “families.”


2020 Dean’s Report




training for faculty, students, and staff.

the treatment of race in the medical curriculum across all four years.

disaggregated demographic admissions data.




admission of Black and other URiM students through the standard admission route.

disparities in the number of URiM students required to repeat a year of medical school.

URiM focus groups to increase dialogue between students and administration.

First Diversity Fellow In 2017 ODMA hired its first diversity fellow, a paid medical student who devotes a year to developing diversity and inclusion programming and working on a project of their own design. One student is hired for this position annually.

Addressing Structural Racism Each year the Brown Advocates for Social Change and Equity program enrolls a new cohort of fellows who learn about structural racism in the health care system. They then design a project to share this knowledge with their respective departments or clinical locations.

Diversity Initiatives


Pipeline Programs A number of programs have been developed to support URiM students earlier in their careers. In the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, for example, local high school students participate in a six-week research program that exposes them to career paths in science. The Diversity in Medicine Visiting Student Program funds medical students from other schools to participate in clinical electives at Brown and has expanded to 12 clinical departments.

Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs ODMA coordinates recruitment efforts of and provides support for students, faculty, and trainees who are underrepresented in medicine and biology. The office also collaborates with University partners to offer culturally sensitive educational programming and related support to all members of the Division of Biology and Medicine community.

Joseph A. Diaz, MD, MPH

Associate Dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

Tracey Guthrie, MD

Assistant Dean for Diversity

Patricia Poitevien, MD

Assistant Dean for Diversity


2020 Dean’s Report

Lauryn Ashford MD’22 with a patient. Diversity Initiatives


A researcher in the lab of Peter Belenky, PhD, holds a bacterial sample used in their research on the response of microbiomes to antimicrobial agents. 22

Investing in Excellence


Over the Top: External Research Funding Since 2013, external research funding for the Division of Biology and Medicine has gone up 118 percent and is on track to reach a 158-percent increase in 2021.

Research dollars are up

(total in millions)


$100 $95.0

$90 $80 $76.7

$70 $60


$63.3 $57.1





$41.8 $36.8

$30 $20 $10






2020 Dean’s Report








The number of grant awards has

increased 50%.

The Division of Biology and Medicine accounts for

32% of all research dollars at Brown University.

Investing in Excellence


Game-Changing Grants Brown and its affiliated health care institutions across Rhode Island have received tens of millions of dollars in the past several years through the NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program.

Advance Clinical and Translational Research (Advance-CTR) Launched in 2016 with a five-year, $19.5 million NIH award, AdvanceCTR provides funding, mentoring and professional support, data analysis services and training to biomedical researchers across Rhode Island to jumpstart the translational research that will develop new medical devices and treatments. This one grant has supported:


142 publications

78 funded investigators

72 extramural awards

114 mentors trained

2020 Dean’s Report

Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence The NIH has funded numerous multimillion-dollar COBREs at Brown and its affiliated hospitals in recent years. The grants expand the University’s research capacities through support of junior and earlycareer faculty in multidisciplinary centers, organized around biomedical themes and overseen by established investigators. Currently there are 11 active COBREs led by Brown faculty.


Center for Antimicrobial Resistance and Therapeutic Discovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $9.4 million Center for Computational Biology of Human Disease. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $11.5 million Center for Neuromodulation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $12.5 million COBRE on Opioids and Overdose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $11.8 million COBRE on Reproductive Health. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $12.2 million

CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10 million


Center for Cancer Research Development. . . . . . . . . . . $5.8 million Center for Central Nervous System Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $12 million Center for Stem Cells and Aging. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10 million COBRE f0r Perinatal Biology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $5 million COBRE f0r Skeletal Health and Repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $5.8 million

Investing in Excellence


Fueled by Philanthropy When the University launched its $3 billion BrownTogether comprehensive campaign in 2015, it set an initial 10-year, $150 million goal for the Division of Biology and Medicine. That goal was exceeded in four years. The new goal is $300 million by 2022.

Endowed Professorships in the Division

13 faculty appointed

to previously established professorships

18 faculty named

as the inaugural incumbents of newly created professorships

12 newly established

professorships awaiting Corporation approval and faculty appointments


2020 Dean’s Report

These are just some of the gifts transforming research and teaching:

A Boost for Translational Science

$50 million

from University Chancellor Samuel M. Mencoff ’78, P’11, P’15, and his wife, Ann S. Mencoff P’11, P’15, to launch the Brown Institute for Translational Science. The gift established endowed chairs, funds outstanding researchers, and supports medical education and research.

Next-Generation Physician-Scientists

$27 million

from the Warren Alpert Foundation to establish the Warren Alpert Physician-Scientist MD/PhD and Advanced Training Program. The gift under­­­­ writes the tuition of all four years of medical school for every MD/PhD student.

Endowed Professorships in Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Disease

$6 million

from an anonymous Brown alumnus to recruit two new scientists with research and clinical expertise in Alzheimer’s and dementia. Investing in Excellence





Brown Institute for Translational Science The Brown Institute for Translational Science (BITS), formed in 2015, expands our capabilities for translational investigation. It brings together scientists and clinicians in horizontally integrated research and education teams to study a disease, biologic pathway, or societal problem, like obesity or aging. Investigators in these programs work with faculty across the University to foster discoveries that have an impact on patients or populations and that lead to new policies in health care. They also receive funding and expert guidance to generate commercial products that augment our regional economy.

Horizontally Integrated Research and Education Team Structure EDUCATION Undergraduate, Graduate, Medical




Clinical Care Patient Cohorts Disease Relevance

2020 Dean’s Report

• School of Engineering • School of Public Health • Natural Science • Applied Math

• Watson Institute • Humanities • Other


The horizontally integrated research and education teams established so far are:

The Brown Center for Biomedical Informatics Development and Application of Informatics OUTCOME

Basic discovery

Partnership with Brown’s Center for Computational Molecular Biology and Data Science Initiative

Educational opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students

New ways to apply data to improve health


Neil Sarkar, PhD, MLIS, FACMI Director

Elizabeth Chen, PhD, FACMI Associate Director

Hamish Fraser, MBChB

Carsten Eickhoff, PhD



The Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute A joint program with the School of Public Health and our affiliated hospitals

Studies Changing the Lives of Children OUTCOME Focus on 3 child health issues: autism; healthy weight and obesity; asthma

Developing a study group of Rhode Islandborn children for ancillary studies

Evidence-based health policies that help make Rhode Island the healthiest place for children to live

Partnering with state agencies and community organizations


Patrick Vivier, MD, PhD

Phyllis Dennery, MD

Erika Werner, MD

Brown-Lifespan Center for Innovation in Digital Medicine Using Technology to Improve Health OUTCOME Scholarly incubator for digital health tools

Partner with tech leaders and entrepreneurs

Digital solutions to improve patient health and help mitigate health disparities


Megan Ranney, MD, MPH Director


2020 Dean’s Report

Nicole Nugent, PhD Associate Director

The Joint Program in Cancer Biology Translating Cancer Research to Treatment OUTCOME

More than 100 researchers focused on cancer biology, therapeutics, and population science

Patient data from 11 types of cancers

Clinical trials through the Brown University Oncology Research Group

New understanding of disease pathogenesis and interventions for the treatment and prevention of cancer


Wafik S. El-Deiry, MD, PhD Director

Howard Safran, MD Chief of Hematology/Oncology, Lifespan Cancer Institute

The Center on the Biology of Aging Extending the Human Health Span OUTCOME Basic discoveries on the biology of aging that suggest aging is a treatable process

Involves more than 40 faculty across the University

Interventions to help people live longer, healthier lives


John Sedivy, PhD Director

Stephen Helfand, MD

Ashley Webb, PhD



The Center for Translational Neuroscience A joint program with the Carney Institute for Brain Science

Autism, Epilepsy, and Neurodegenerative Disease OUTCOME Basic discoveries

Testing in patient cohorts

New understanding in disease pathogenesis and commercially available treatments


Eric Morrow, MD, PhD Director

Judy Liu, MD, PhD Associate Director

Gregorio Valdez, PhD

Alvin Huang, MD, PhD

Vaccine Biology and Global Health Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases OUTCOME Basic discovery of novel vaccine candidates

Commercially available vaccines that foster disease prevention

Testing in models and in patient cohorts in partner countries


Jonathan Kurtis, MD, PhD Director


2020 Dean’s Report

Jeffrey Bailey, MD, PhD

Jennifer Friedman, MD, PhD

Jessica Plavicki, PhD, studies the impact of chemical exposure on cerebral vascular development and brain health.

From Idea to Impact Moving a therapy from the laboratory to the marketplace requires as much careful shepherding and expertise as making the initial discovery did. The Division of Biology and Medicine works to foster creative thinking, interdisciplinary collaboration, and venture support to move that process along. The Division collaborates with the Brown Technology Innovations office to encourage and facilitate the evolution of faculty discoveries into devices, drugs, and diagnostic tests with the ultimate goal of helping people.



Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact Government / Federal Agency Funding

Industry Funding Venture Capitalists Angel Investors



Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact BBII, a translational life sciences-focused, commercial development program based in the Division, helps bridge the gap – called the “valley of death” – between federal funding for research and private investment. The program provides proof of concept funding for up to five faculty projects per year, connects them with mentors, and explores commercial development opportunities. Funded projects include: A device to help stabilize infants for lumbar punctures New drugs to treat metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension Chemical optimization of a new drug for pulmonary fibrosis Lab-grown human cardiac tissues for post-heart attack repair An EEG-based test to diagnose acute lower back pain


2020 Dean’s Report

BBII helps to bridge the gap between academic biomedical discoveries and new products by providing much-needed funding, coaching, and project management resources to guide technologies through proof of concept into well-defined product opportunities that will attract the attention of industry collaborators and potential investors.

Karen Bulock, PhD, became BBII’s first managing director in 2018.



What’s Next? The successes of the past seven years are the culmination of much hard work and the extraordinary generosity of benefactors and our greater community. Expanding Efforts in Diversity and Inclusion The Division of Biology and Medicine is taking decisive actions related to social justice and anti-racism. These initiatives are a priority for this and coming academic years, and updates to these plans are posted on our website,

Expanding Investment in Translational Medicine and Research The Division of Biology and Medicine will expand investment in translational research. One challenge to this growth is the need for an additional laboratory, animal facility, and office space. We will need to find creative solutions to this problem while we navigate the financial difficulties caused by COVID-19.

Increasing Educational Programs The Division will offer additional master’s and other graduate programs in an array of affiliated health fields. A strategic plan for medical education that outlines the evolving curriculum for The Warren Alpert Medical School and enhances the professional development of students and faculty was adopted in May 2020.

We are excited by the growth and progress that have taken place and the exciting prospects for the future. We thank all the dedicated people who made this possible and invite everyone to join us on the next leg of our journey.


2020 Dean’s Report


Jack A. Elias, MD, MACP

Cailie Burns

Michele G. Cyr, MD, MACP

Senior Vice President for Health Affairs; Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences

Assistant Dean for Biomedical Advancement

Shontay Delalue, PhD

Joseph A. Diaz,

Kimberly A. Galligan,

Associate Dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

Executive Dean for Administration

Edward Hawrot, PhD

Sharon I. Rounds, MD

Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity; Interim Senior Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Paul George, MD, MHPE

Associate Dean for Medical Education


Senior Associate Dean for the Program in Biology

Allan R. Tunkel, MD, PhD, MACP

Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education

Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs


Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs

Roxanne Vrees, MD Associate Dean for Student Affairs

Office of the Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Brown University Box G-A1 97 Waterman Street Providence, RI 02912 401-863-3330

PHOTO CREDITS: p. 2, Scott Kingsley; p.4-5, 9, 21, David DelPoio; p. 7, 37, Nick Dentamaro; p. 16-17, Adam Mastoon. DESIGN: Orange Square (