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Listening, Learning, and Doing

March 16, 2020

Dear Alumni and Friends:

The months leading up to my arrival and my first six weeks as dean of Yale School of Medicine (YSM) have been both exciting and eventful. The many meetings I have had with leadership, faculty, staff, and students—including a series of ongoing small group listening sessions with these groups—have given me a unique perspective on what makes the school so special, as well as some of the opportunities we have to excel even further. There is much to do together, including advancing the work of the Academic Leadership, Faculty Engagement, and Clinician Well-Being committees; addressing alignment in the clinical enterprise to enhance patient care and restore joy in the practice of medicine; capitalizing on unique opportunities to grow and better coordinate across our research enterprise; and continuing to leverage the Yale system to enhance the education and training of physician scientists and leaders.

We have already begun to institute some changes. The Office of Faculty Affairs has been restructured as the Office of Academic and Professional Development. Dr. Linda Mayes has assumed the position of deputy dean for professionalism and leadership development. She will co-lead the restructured office with Dr. Linda Bockenstedt, who will continue in her role as deputy dean for academic affairs. We will implement several leadership development initiatives, including enhancing our processes for identifying and nominating faculty to leadership positions, expanding opportunities for our rising stars to participate in leadership development programs, and honing and training faculty leaders in standardized approaches to behavioral and disciplinary interventions. We are expanding our research footprint with new space at 100 College Street, and we are in the early stages of enhancing our infrastructure to promote the careers of physician-scientists.

I imagine, however, that at the moment what is most on your minds is the COVID-19 pandemic, and I would like to share with you some of what we are doing to meet this challenge. We are taking proactive measures to ensure the safety of our faculty, students, staff, and patients. We are working closely with University, YSM, and Yale New Haven Health leadership as we implement such social-distancing measures as moving preclinical classes online, cancelling or postponing larger events, moving to virtual meetings, and providing travel guidance. The current situation provides a unique learning opportunity for students and as a community we will be discussing how physicians and other clinicians can balance the responsibilities of caring for ourselves and our families with our duty to care for our patients.

Our experts in public health, basic and clinical research, and clinical care have been working around the clock to monitor the developing situation, coordinate our activities and response, and to advance knowledge. Our laboratories have developed new methods to increase the availability of testing for our patients, as well as our faculty and staff. We are pioneering telemedicine strategies to care for appropriate patients. Our outstanding infectious diseases experts, microbiologists, immunobiologists and geneticists are studying mechanisms of infection and susceptibility to infection.

Whether in caring for patients, modeling the epidemiology of the virus, approaching possible treatments, or exploring the genetics of COVID-19, the YSM community is responding with expertise and innovation. Although too numerous to mention here, faculty have been featured on news programs, in articles, on social media, and as authors of op-ed pieces about the pandemic. They are lending thought leadership to such topics as minimizing the risk of transmission, mitigating outbreaks among older adults and other vulnerable populations, reducing anxiety about the pandemic, what parents should know about COVID-19, pregnancy-related COVID guidance, and forecasting the impact of the virus.

I could not be prouder of our community for its thoughtfulness and commitment to our core values as we plan for the unknown. I look forward to sharing periodic updates on ongoing initiatives. I have had the opportunity to meet some of our alumni but am eager to get to know you and engage with you in meaningful ways to strengthen our core mission of training tomorrow’s physicians and scientists.


Nancy J. Brown, MD
Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Medicine
C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine