Published March 1, 2022

A Message from Brian Strom, M.D., M.P.H.

Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

The past 22 months have been some of the most challenging faced by Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) since its inception in 2013. Yet, thanks to the dedication and resilience of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors, the past year also was marked by some of our greatest accomplishments.

Despite several surges of the pandemic, we continued to deliver high-quality patient care, conduct laboratory and clinical research, and educate our clinical and nonclinical students. As I look forward to the year ahead, I am hopeful that society’s renewed appreciation for science, wellness, and the health professions will usher in a renaissance of life-changing discoveries, groundbreaking and integrated treatments, and a commitment to ensuring that all our community members receive the care they deserve.

The future of human health is being shaped today and, thanks in large part to the generosity of our donors, RBHS is poised to influence its growth.

The following report provides examples of how donors like you are making an impact on the RBHS community and around the world. I hope you are proud, as I am, of all we have accomplished together to make RBHS a place where solutions are discovered and applied, leaders are trained, and innovation flourishes.

Although space prevents us from talking about every donor-supported fund, you can take pride in knowing that you make a difference no matter your area(s) of support. Your gifts ensure that opportunities and success stories like these are possible today and tomorrow. I extend my deepest appreciation to each of you for your role in this life-changing work.

RWJMS Student Emergency Assistance Fund

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School students are no strangers to a challenge—they take on large course loads, clinical practice, part-time jobs, extracurriculars, and more. But as they strive to keep the world well, things don’t always go as planned.

The COVID-19 pandemic left many students and their support systems with financial difficulties. Some students have reached the end of their financial aid and struggle to make ends meet. They try to bridge financial gaps by maxing out credit cards, missing rent payments, skipping meals, and not purchasing educational tools such as test preparation materials. The physical and emotional toll of this financial stress puts their medical education, and often their very well-being, in jeopardy.

Through the RWJMS Student Emergency Assistance Fund, donors are helping to fill the financial gaps for students who need it most. Donor support alleviates housing and food insecurity and other challenges that threaten students’ successful professional development. Your gifts empower student success by reducing financial stress and ensuring that every RWJMS student has the resources to complete their journey through medical school.

Dental Missions Fund

Rutgers School of Dental Medicine students and faculty returned this year to the Black Hills of South Dakota to treat American Indian patients at a federal Indian Health Services clinic. Pine Ridge Reservation residents are members of the Lakota tribe and rely almost exclusively on the clinic for care.

During the annual mission, third-year students filled in for Indian Health Services staff. Before the trip, they learned about American Indian culture and customs so they could gain a better understanding of their patients. For student Adrian Rivera, the trip was an opportunity to gain valuable experience honing his skills. “I was able to do more surgical procedures and assess and execute treatment plans,’’ he says. “I was able to put into practice the things I had learned and be more independent. It was a glimpse of what practicing dentistry as a professional is really like.’’

Donor support for the school’s Dental Missions Fund allows students to treat patients who may live miles from the nearest dentist or face income inequity that prevents them from buying necessities like toothbrushes and toothpaste. These trips are often transformative experiences for students, who gain an understanding of global health care inequities and cultural differences in attitudes toward oral health. Donor generosity makes it possible. Thank you.

Health Outreach Practice Experience

Rutgers School of Health Professions recently reopened Health Outreach Practice Experience (HOPE). This free clinic increases access to primary care for the state’s most vulnerable populations. It provides services to uninsured and underinsured adults age 18 and over.

At the clinic, physician assistant (PA) faculty and students manage acute and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. Faculty oversee and manage the primary care practice that more than 500 patients rely on annually. Beyond ensuring access to health care for those who need it, the practice provides valuable clinical experience for PA students, who volunteer alongside faculty to provide services.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, when COVID-19 forced the closing of the program’s former location, HOPE’s leaders were able to open a new permanent location in Plainfield, New Jersey. Donor support has enabled the program to continue providing culturally competent, compassionate care to underserved populations.

School of Nursing Excellence in Education

One of the nation’s top nursing programs continues its excellence in education, research, and service, thanks to donor giving.

As one of the nation’s largest, most comprehensive nursing schools, Rutgers School of Nursing is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, evidence-based research, service, practice, and leadership. Named among the top 5 percent of nursing schools in the country for its bachelor’s programs by U.S. News & World Report for 2022, the school is also the highest-ranked in New Jersey.

The school recently launched New Jersey’s only acute care pediatric nurse practitioner curriculum, complementing its roster of highly ranked doctor of nursing practice and master of science in nursing programs.

Donor support for the school’s Scholarship Fund and Academic Excellence Fund has a direct and immediate impact on students and faculty. The generosity of donors provides broad-based and immediate help to educate students; advances nursing through research, scholarship, and practice; and meets the health care needs of diverse populations. Throughout the pandemic, the actions of nursing students, faculty, staff, and alumni have been heroic. Gifts to the School of Nursing help train the next generation of outstanding nursing professionals.

Cancer Immunology and Metabolism Center of Excellence

The Duncan and Nancy MacMillan Cancer Immunology and Metabolism Center of Excellence at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey is uniting work in cancer metabolism with the study of cancer immunology to end the disease as we know it. With a focused and targeted approach to research and treatment, the center is bringing new hope to cancer patients.

For decades, the cornerstones of cancer treatment were surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. In recent years, immunotherapy has risen to become the capstone. Immunotherapy harnesses the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. Discovering and manipulating the cancer cell’s inner workings and exploiting its weaknesses, along with empowering the body’s immune cells to fight cancer, provide the blueprint for the future of cancer treatment.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, Rutgers Cancer Institute can pursue promising discoveries while ensuring its physicians, researchers, and care teams have the tools they need to deliver the best patient care backed by the latest research. Donor contributions fuel research that leads to better, more effective diagnoses, treatment options, prevention methods, and detection of cancer.

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