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2021 update
Students from IU School of Medicine pose for a group portrait

General Update

THE CHALLENGES of training doctors, continuing our important research and serving patients during the COVID-19 pandemic have been unlike anything most of us have ever faced. Even so, Indiana University School of Medicine persevered in the past year, thanks in no small part to people like you who support our work in the classroom, the lab and in the community.

We set a new school record in research funding through the National Institutes of Health. We overcame obstacles in the classroom and graduated another great class of medical students. And when our state faced a crisis, we were there to help meet its needs.

Here’s a look at how IU School of Medicine has made a difference in the past year. Your gifts empower our scientists to discover and develop new techniques that dramatically advance health care and form the building blocks that can lead to cures.

Our transplant surgeons are utilizing philanthropic support to devise ways–such as 3-D bioprinting—that could alleviate the shortage of organs. They’re also working on ways to prevent complications that can arise after transplant surgeries.

In neurosciences, our researchers continue to confront Alzheimer’s disease with a comprehensive approach that now includes a drug discovery center, which aims to develop treatments for the disease. The effort is led by scientists we’ve been able to recruit and support with the help of philanthropy.

In cardiovascular care, we’re working to expand access to assessments that can indicate early whether individuals at risk of heart attack have a dangerous buildup of plaque. Similarly, we’re devising preventative strategies that reduce cardiovascular disease risks for patients with diabetes and conditions that affect metabolic health.

In urology, researchers are testing a molecule that detects trace levels of prostate cancer—a mechanism that could prove critical to ensuring that cancers have been stopped.

When it comes to rare bone diseases, IU School of Medicine is home to one of the world’s leading labs in the field. Led by Michael Econs, MD, the lab is blazing new trails in the search of treatments for illnesses that cause bones to break easily and leave patients debilitated. These are just a few areas where philanthropy is supporting research at IU School of Medicine and transforming health care.

Preparing medical students to serve as healers has always been the cornerstone IU School of Medicine. Their training is supported both with donor-supported scholarships and through gifts to the various departments in the school.

In the past year, our students demonstrated how much they embrace our mission of service as they stepped forward selflessly to confront what may be the defining crisis of their careers.

Early in the pandemic, more than a third of the Class of 2020 volunteered to graduate early and be available to help the state’s hospitals. By year’s end, 430 students volunteered to help administer the new vaccine—a service to thousands of Hoosiers.

“I’m not surprised so many of our students volunteered,” said Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA. “This is something that students can do that is really important work, and ultimately save people’s lives.”

Meanwhile, the school continued to deliver a top-tier medical education. Courses built around lectures and small groups shifted online. We implemented social distancing in our labs. As they practiced physical exams or learned to use point-of-care ultrasound, our students did so with proper masking and other protective gear.

The result was that we were able to safely navigate the pandemic. Our Class of 2021 is now our second graduating class of the pandemic, and we’re proud to continue our mission to deliver new physicians to the state of Indiana.

Of course, the reach of IU School of Medicine goes far beyond the state’s borders. In Kenya, where the School has been engaged in life-saving work for more than 30 years, the pandemic presented new obstacles to our pioneering work in global health.

When COVID-19 began to appear more than a year ago and travel restrictions ensued, IU decided to pull back its personnel abroad as a precaution. That didn’t mean AMPATH personnel at IU stopped working for Kenyans.

Through Zoom meetings, WhatsApp threads and email, IU faculty advised Kenyans on how to repurpose their labs for testing, how to track down protective equipment and repurpose space for increased ICU capacity.

It was a long-distance relationship that worked only because of decades of cooperation between Kenyans and IU. “That doesn’t just happen,” said Adrian Gardner, MD, MPH, executive director of AMPATH and director of the Indiana University Center for Global Health. “You don’t call up a random stranger and say, ‘How are you doing over there?’ It needs to be someone you trust.”

AMPATH’s faculty in North America shared information on the latest understanding of protocols for using ventilators for COVID patients, caring for pregnant women with COVID and managing treatment for the critically ill.

IU’s longtime partner in Kenya, the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, will likely be among the centers tasked with delivering and administering vaccines. And, after decades delivering HIV treatments, that’s another place where IU may be able to help.

As in the past, AMPATH aims to provide support while Kenyans take the lead. North American faculty members have begun to return to Kenya, and medical residents will follow.

Our work is sustained and inspired by your gifts. For that, we offer our profound thanks.

Make a gift to help IU School of Medicine transform health.

Contact Caitie Deranek Stewart