December 18, 2020: Faculty Honors, 2020 Reflections, and more

Chancellor Brian L. Strom
Brian L. Strom

Dear Colleagues, 

This week we celebrated a milestone in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. With the initial rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the United States, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel has begun to appear before us.

Like many of you, I was filled with both hope and pride on Tuesday morning when Governor Phil Murphy joined us in Newark at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School as we partnered with University Hospital in the first vaccinations in New Jersey. Robert Johnson, Dean of New Jersey Medical School and Interim Dean of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, was the second individual vaccinated. Anticipating the pending shipment of the vaccine from Pfizer, University Hospital created the vaccine clinic at NJMS adjacent to the hospital. Staffed and structured with guidance from state and federal health officials, the clinic has the potential to administer at least 600 vaccinations daily. Nearly simultaneous to the event in Newark, colleagues from RWJBarnabas Health began vaccinating healthcare workers at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

Help has arrived in the form of the vaccine. In New Jersey, the initial allocation of vaccines during the first phase will be to those serving in paid and unpaid positions in health care settings as well as residents of long-term care facilities. The second phase, which will prioritize essential workers and those at high risk from the disease, will begin in very early 2021. Also, there is optimism that the FDA will soon grant Emergency Use Authorization to the Moderna vaccine, which was tested as part of a clinical trial at NJMS. The results for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, for which Rutgers was the #2 recruiting site in the world, will emerge soon as well. We are hopeful that these vaccines may be available to adults in the general public in the spring.

Our team will continue to bring you the latest updates and critical information on the pandemic. Yesterday, I began the first weekly COVID-19 Health Briefing, which will provide an opportunity for information sharing and clarification on COVID-19-related topics. In January, we will launch a podcast that will examine the critical, real-time challenges we are facing in our fight to recover from the pandemic. 

While the news is good, the pandemic is far from over. Cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey have likely not yet peaked in this second wave. Contact tracers still face resistance and there is still much we do not know about this novel coronavirus. However, there is hope and much to look forward to as we begin our recovery.

Sincerely, 

Brian L. Strom
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

 

 

December 4, 2020: Clinical Trial, Year in Review, and more

Chancellor Christopher Molloy
Chancellor Christopher Molloy

Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the final weeks of 2020, we are provided an annual opportunity for reflection. Of course, this year has been like no other, and each of us has been challenged in ways we never anticipated.

Early in the year, the COVID-19 pandemic required us to quickly change the course of our operations to maintain the safety and health of our community. Our faculty and staff responded admirably, despite many challenges. Our dedicated faculty were largely able to successfully effectuate an unprecedented move to a fully remote environment to ensure the continuation of all academic courses. Our staff responded rapidly to the changing needs of the University and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to not only support our students, but ensure our daily operations were managed effectively, even from afar. In addition, researchers throughout Rutgers initiated groundbreaking research to fight the pandemic, and even now, clinical trials testing vaccines and new therapeutic treatments for COVID-19 are ongoing, right on our New Brunswick campus.

So today, even from a distance, our extended university community maintains the positive spirit of Rutgers. While these last 12 months have tested our collective strength in ways big and small, we have responded with the resiliency that reflects our university’s 254-year history. Rutgers has faced challenges before; we have endured trials and celebrated triumphs, and that is what makes our bond as members of this extraordinary university so strong.

As we close out 2020, I thank you for your continued commitment to Rutgers and for all your work to support education, academic and research excellence, and community service. I also so look forward to the days when we are back together, on campus, safely once again, hopefully very soon.

Sincerely,

Christopher Molloy, Ph.D. (PHARM '77, GSNB '87)
Chancellor, Rutgers University–New Brunswick

November 20, 2020: Two-Step Login, RBHS Research Is Up, and More

Chancellor Brian L. Strom
Chancellor Brian L. Strom, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

Dear Colleagues,

As we persist through a second wave of the pandemic in New Jersey, I want to share the good news of the steady progress we have made in growing the research enterprise at RBHS. As a critical area of our three-part mission, we have cultivated an environment in our schools, centers, and institutes to promote scholarship, innovation, and discovery.

In a word, the growth of our research portfolio has been spectacular. Since 2014, research awards (in dollars) have grown by 67 percent and, save for a short pandemic-related dip from FY19 to FY20, we have seen consistent year-over-year growth, culminating in our reported $365 million for FY20. Thus far in FY21 the news is again good; we are tracking substantially ahead of our FY20 numbers. Through the first quarter of FY21, our federal grant awards ($64 million), are up by 29 percent versus the same timeframe last year. 

But dollars don’t do justice to the impact that this research has in local and global populations. Among many other achievements, in cancer, we have retained designation as New Jersey’s only NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center, which allows us to continue our work toward new oncological therapies while serving as New Jersey’s prime destination for treatment. We have established the New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science (NJ ACTS), a statewide hub for clinical and translational science. NJ ACTS has earned for the first time in New Jersey a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), which will increase our university’s access to clinical trials, help introduce new therapies, and create opportunities for increased funding. CTSA awards support a national network of more than 50 medical research institutions nationwide that collaborate to speed the translation of research discoveries into improved patient care. NJ ACTS has recently supported one of the largest studies of the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers and secured NIH funding to develop COVID-19 testing strategies in vulnerable populations.  Numerous investigations to learn more about the human microbiome, neurological disorders, and environmental health are breaking new ground, too.

In sum, this is an important and exciting time to be a part of RBHS. Though the toll of COVID-19 – its physical, emotional, and mental stresses – have been difficult, I am amazed and proud every day at our innovative contributions to ending the pandemic, as well as our continuing progress in all our other research pursuits. My thanks and appreciation go to all of you who are working diligently to create new knowledge in pursuit of bettering the human condition.

Sincerely,

Brian L. Strom
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

November 6, 2020: Adopt-A-Family; First-Generation Students; & Town Halls

Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy
Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy

Dear Colleagues,

Next week, Rutgers–New Brunswick will join our nation’s colleges and universities as we celebrate the contributions and achievements of first-generation students. This event coincides with the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which opened the doors to college for millions of smart, low- and middle-income Americans by establishing need-based grants, work-study opportunities, and federal student loans.

I, too, was the first in my family to attend college. I attended Rutgers as an undergrad and was inspired by the staff and faculty to continue my education. I’ve found that my story is not unique at Rutgers; like me, many of our faculty and staff are first-generation. It’s one of the reasons we understand the grit of our students and are deeply committed to access. We know first-hand how education can be an equalizer. 

As a land-grant institution, providing access to a premier education for those with the academic desire and talent has long been a part of our history. More than that, the shared appreciation of education is in our DNA.

If you are a first-generation student, I hope you will take a moment to share your story with the Rutgers–New Brunswick community on social media by using #RUFIRST. You can also email me at ChancellorNB@rutgers.edu to share how your experience as a first-generation has informed the way in which you serve students. I’d love to hear from you.

I hope that you’ll join me as we recognize our first-generation students, faculty, and staff’s accomplishments during next week’s celebration, and support them as they say #RUFIRST.

Sincerely,
Christopher Molloy, Ph.D.  (PHARM '77, GSNB '87)
Chancellor, Rutgers University–New Brunswick

October 23, 2020: Revised FY21 Budget Information

Chancellor Brian L. Strom
Brian L. Strom

Dear Colleagues,

Despite the hardships we have all endured these past few months, I continue to be inspired by our community’s resilience and commitment to our patients, students, and research.

A few of our outstanding employees were recognized as the first recipients of the RBHS Chancellor’s Awards. This annual recognition program was established this year to acknowledge the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff. Congratulations to all of our 2020 honorees.

Last month, Vicente Gracias, MD announced an important milestone in the partnership between Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health. Rutgers Health has been accredited as a Sponsoring Institution by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. As the single Sponsoring Institution for the GME programs for both Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health, we are now better aligned to cultivate integrated programs that attract top-achieving students, trainees, faculty, and clinical providers and prepare our approximately 1,700 residents and fellows to lead at the forefront of healthcare.

I am also happy to share that the critical work of the NJACTS collaborative continues to enhance the health of our communities. It was announced last week that the group garnered a $5 million National Institutes of Health grant to launch outreach campaigns and expand access to COVID-19 testing for underserved and vulnerable communities in New Jersey.

Thank you for all of your hard work and commitment. Please stay safe and remember to Wear a Mask, Watch Your Distance, and Wash Your Hands.

Sincerely,

Brian L. Strom
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

October 9, 2020

Useful Information for Faculty and Staff about Voting

Dear Colleagues:

Each October the Rutgers president writes to students, many of whom are new to voting, to remind them of the upcoming deadline for registration and to encourage them to vote in November. President Holloway followed that tradition with our students earlier this month, but because of the unusual nature of voting this year related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to share similar information with you.

As you likely know, registration deadlines differ from state to state. In our region, the last day to register in New York is Oct. 9; Delaware is Oct. 10; New Jersey is Oct. 13; and Pennsylvania is Oct. 19. Information about the registration and voting process in each state is available at ruvoting.rutgers.edu.

For residents of New Jersey, we want to share the following information made available through the Eagleton Institute of Politics.

Because of COVID-19 precautions, all active registered voters in New Jersey will receive a mail-in ballot at the address they cited on their voter registration forms. If you need to change your address, you will need to update your voter registration by Oct. 13 or you can request that a mail-in ballot be mailed to a different address where you are temporarily located.

If you prefer to vote using a mail-in ballot:

   Vote, sign, seal, and return your ballot via one of four options:

  1. Deposit your ballot at a secure drop box location (for those registered in Middlesex County, a ballot drop box is located on the Rutgers–New Brunswick College Avenue Campus in The Yard);
  2. Use the U.S. Postal Service, with the ballot postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3;
  3. Bring your ballot to your county Board of Elections Office; or
  4. Bring your ballot to a polling location on Election Day (check link above before you go as some polling locations will change due to COVID-19).

   Track and verify that your ballot was counted.

If you prefer to vote in person on Election Day:

You can go to a polling location between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, to vote in-person (check this link before you go as some polling locations will change due to COVID-19). However, since you would have already received a mail-in-ballot, you will need to vote via a provisional ballot. This is because election officials need to check to make sure that you are registered and that you did not complete and submit a mail-in-ballot. Voters with disabilities can vote by using a polling machine.

For more information about voting in New Jersey, visit the state’s 2020 New Jersey Voter Information Portal. Finally, we invite you to visit Rutgers’ Election 2020 webpage where we highlight our faculty experts’ insight and analysis on a diverse range of issues impacting the 2020 presidential election.

We hope this information is helpful as you exercise your right to vote in 2020 and support our students as they engage in this important act of democratic citizenship.

Sincerely,

Chris Molloy,
Chancellor, Rutgers–New Brunswick

Brian L. Strom,
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

September 25, 2020

Chancellor Molloy and Chancellor Strom

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As faculty and staff of Rutgers–New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, you play a pivotal role in helping our university advance its mission of teaching, research, and service to the state of New Jersey and beyond. That's why it is important for us as chancellors to keep you informed on the latest university news, including updates on high-priority projects, changes in key personnel and other useful information you should know as a member of our Rutgers community. In each issue, you’ll hear from one of us or another member of our leadership teams.

The start to this year's fall semester is unlike any before it, but we remain buoyed by the engagement, optimism and determination of our faculty, staff and students. We are finding innovative ways to teach, engage our community in a way that transcends distance and have witnessed a renewed commitment to support our students and patients—whatever their needs are and wherever they are located. We speak on behalf of a grateful Rutgers community when we say thank you for how quickly you've responded to these changes and stepped up to the challenges in front of us.

We also would like to recognize our tireless researchers and front-line health care workers who also are making unique contributions to the fight against COVID-19.

We are looking forward to sharing news and updates with you in future editions of The Current.

Sincerely,

Christopher J. Molloy
Chancellor, Rutgers University–New Brunswick

Brian L. Strom
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences