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In 2021, IU School of Medicine received record NIH funding and built upon its commitment to prepare healers, conduct innovative medical research and transform health for patients in Indiana and beyond.

Check out IU School of Medicine's top stories of 2021

2021 year in review
While medicine is complex, a healer’s job is easy to describe. Healers preserve, restore and advance better health.

In 2021, that mission guided the work of Indiana University School of Medicine, building upon the school’s commitment to doing research that transforms patient care.

For the fifth consecutive year, the School set a record for grant support from the National Institutes of Health, garnering more than $213 million in NIH grants.


Advances in Cancer Research

At the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, expertise in precision genomics and immunotherapy continues to revolutionize how we prevent, detect and cure cancers.

John Turchi, PhDIU School of Medicine launched a new clinical trial in breast cancer using genetic insights to tailor therapy for patients with an aggressive type of breast cancer known as triple negative.

Lung cancer researcher John Turchi, PhD, earned $2.5 million in NIH funding to develop a novel therapy for patients who currently have limited therapeutic options.

And pancreatic cancer researcher Janaiah Kota, PhD, and colleagues may have found a way to help drugs penetrate dense tumors that make it so hard to treat. This is significant as pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers with less than 11 percent of people surviving five years after diagnosis.

Read more about recent discoveries in cancer on the Cancer Research blog. 

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention and Treatment

At the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, IU continued nearly three decades of pioneering work tackling Alzheimer’s disease.

Apostolova-and-EstradaExecutive Director Bruce Lamb, PhD, and colleagues have received three National Institute on Aging grants—totaling $8.7 million in new funding—to further the study of Alzheimer's disease at IU School of Medicine. Researchers are investigating a gene-encoded protein found in the brain’s immune cells which carries two genetic risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

IU’s National Centralized Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias garnered another $30 million in funding, helping it remain a global resource of tissue samples for scientists studying Alzheimer’s and dementia.

And the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Center received another $15 million in NIH support, which will expand work targeting the causes of the disease, advance prevention, and power the hunt for treatments to save memory.

Innovation in Medical Education

In 2021, IU School of Medicine continued one of its primary missions—to train stellar physicians.

Kristen Swanson and Petr Sliva on Match Day 2021In the spring, graduates matched to residency programs in 32 states, with the largest share staying in Indiana. And 42 percent entered primary care, filling a significant need in Indiana and across the country.

In late summer, IU School of Medicine welcomed a new class of 366 students. And about 62 percent of them are studying at one of the school’s eight regional campuses.

Fifty years ago, each of those campuses started with only a handful of students and a bold notion—train physicians in the communities they might one day serve. Back then, IU pioneered the statewide campus system for medical education.

In 2021, we celebrated the success of what has become one school, nine campuses, one mission, where students learn from a common four-year curriculum and can participate in Scholarly Concentration programs with unique chances for research and mentorship.

No matter where a student learns, the result remains the same: an outstanding medical education.

Eliminating Health Care Disparities and Promoting Inclusion

In 2021, the IU School of Medicine community managed to achieve these milestones while continuing to navigate the pandemic—and contribute to the state’s response to it.

IU medical student trains to give COVID vaccineOur scientists and leaders continued to play an integral role in keeping IU campuses safe across the state. More than 430 medical students answered the state’s call for volunteers to administer vaccines—ensuring the most vulnerable Hoosiers received crucial doses.

IU School of Medicine accelerated work to eliminate disparities in health care–gaps that have grown during the pandemic. With a $5.1 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, IU invested in telemedicine kits and active listening training. These tools prepare students to connect remotely and lower barriers to care.

IU School of Medicine also pursued ways to make every member of its community feel welcome. Task forces reviewed data on diversity, school leadership conducted town halls for input on inclusiveness, and students and faculty were trained in unconscious bias and health disparities.

Celebrating the Spirit of Medicine

This year, IU School of Medicine updated its Honor Code. Central to the Honor Code are the core values of the School: EXCELLENCE, RESPECT, INTEGRITY, DIVERSITY and COOPERATION. Colleagues at IU School of Medicine can be found living the core values every day. Fourth-year medical student Dana Mitchell exemplified excellence as she solved her own mystery illness.

Alesha Arnold and Elyse Turula with white ribbonsAnother IU School of Medicine student, Eamon Eccles, had testicular cancer as an undergrad at IU and is now exploring a career in oncology, learning from Lawrence Einhorn, MD, and other experts in the field at the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center—where Eccles was once a patient. Similarly, Carly Chapman, a first-year resident who battled osteosarcoma as a child and was treated at Riley Hospital for Children, is now in the family medicine residency at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. Both bring a unique empathy to their work as physicians.

Faculty members are doing extraordinary things every day at IU School of Medicine. Nasser Hanna, MD, started up the End Lung Cancer Now initiative to dramatically decrease cancer deaths in Indiana. And Michael D. Davis, PhD, assistant research professor in pediatrics, is helping manage the COVID-19 response plan for the nation of Liberia in West Africa.

Women in LeadershipWomen are leading the way in several key areas of the medical school. Researchers like Tatiana Foroud, PhD, Liana Apostolova, MD, and others are leading core areas of Alzheimer’s research, while Michelle Howenstine, MD, Emily Walvoord, MD, and Maureen Harrington, PhD, are helping lead the school’s educational mission. Read about more women leaders at IU School of Medicine on the Women in Medicine blog.


For more stories on how members of the IU School of Medicine community are innovating, inspiring and helping others with their work, check out the Spirit of Medicine blog.

And visit the IU School of Medicine Newsroom to stay up-to-date on the latest school news.

As always, IU School of Medicine will keep moving forward in its mission—preparing healers, conducting innovative medical research and transforming health for patients in Indiana and beyond. That has defined IU School of Medicine for a century—and will continue in 2022.
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IU School of Medicine

With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across nine campuses and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, Indiana University School of Medicine is continuously advancing its mission to prepare healers and transform health in Indiana and throughout the world.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.