From the Dean (Dean's Letter)

Checking in A Q&A with Dean Stan Gerson












When the 2023–24 academic year kicked off, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Dean Stan Gerson, MD, announced a theme to define the year ahead: “Discovery with an attitude.” This approach, he said, is how people across the school—faculty, staff, postdocs, students, and partners—tackle innovation, whether in the classroom, laboratory, or clinical settings. Read on to hear more from Dean Gerson about the school’s latest achievements and goals for the future.

CWRU MEDICINE: What are some examples of how you’re seeing “discovery with an attitude” in action?

DEAN GERSON: So many people bring innovative, exciting, and out-of-the-box approaches to their work—different attitudes that are driving discoveries for patients. In this issue, for example, you’ll read about how we bring our research to the real world (p. 14). Plus, we’re launching the Institute for Glial Sciences, where researchers focus on unraveling the mysteries of neurological disease (p. 8), and Gary Schwartz, MD, the new director of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, is taking a visionary approach to treating rare cancers (p. 40).

CWRU MEDICINE: Speaking of making real-world differences: Case Western Reserve recently received the university’s largest grant in history—$56.3 million for the School of Medicine’s Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC). What is the impact of this grant?

DEAN GERSON: With this funding, the CTSC enters a new chapter with health equity at its core. While strides have been made, there is much to be done to change the trajectory of health outcomes for underrepresented populations, including those who are Black, Latine, LGBTQ+, or living in rural areas. This funding will allow us to tackle this problem in a way that will create a generational shift in the health of those who have for too long been disenfranchised. (Read more on p. 14.) 

CWRU MEDICINE: How are students contributing to the school’s mission to advance scientific discovery?

DEAN GERSON: Students are, of course, at the core of all we do. And this year, I’ve been exceptionally impressed by their efforts. For example: In December, more than 250 medical and graduate students participated in our first combined Student Research Day, which illustrated the broad spectrum of translational, clinical, and basic science research being conducted on our campus. As I visited with students during the poster session and oral presentations, I reflected on the importance of their research in our efforts to fulfill our mission: To improve global health by linking research to populations in a superb educational environment. The daylong event was a testament to the school’s history and culture of innovation and discovery—and it showcased how we add to that history every day, each time we enter a lab, sketch out a new idea, publish our findings, or launch a clinical trial. Their work is a testament to the collaborative spirit that thrives within our School of Medicine community.