Week 9: Top Rankings

This week, I was pleased to see that our department of medicine (DoM) ranked number 2 in National Institutes of Health funding to departments of medicine in the United States. We were number 1 last year. This year we were eclipsed by NYU, which shot to the top, following receipt of a mind boggling one -year award of ~ $450M to a research group to establish a central data resource and biorepository for a long-Covid study. 

So, we should be celebrating that we continue to maintain the position that we achieved last year as a top-tier research intensive department of medicine. That said, we are vulnerable. UCSF is nipping at our heels. Relative to our peer institutions, who are competing for NIH funding glory such as UCSF, Vanderbilt, and Hopkins, we have work to do to increase the number of funded faculty within our department. We have one large award of $131M to Dr. Judith Currier which will not last forever. Therefore, we need to adopt a multi-pronged and strategic approach that will include active mentoring of our junior faculty to successfully transition them from mentored to independent research grants; strengthening collaborative opportunities to compete for large NIH grants to support research teams, and most importantly, actively recruiting scientific rain makers to UCLA. More details to follow, as we strengthen this critical departmental mission to deliver leading-edge research. 

Our reputation as a leading medical center is due not only to the quality of care that we deliver, but to the fact that we are innovators who lead discovery efforts that will define the future of medicine. Thus, speaking of reputation, this week I also learned that UCLA Health did exceptionally well in a global ranking of the world’s best hospital. UCLA Health ranked number 9 out of the 250 medical centers worldwide that made this prestigious list.

I am proud of the many contributions of the faculty and staff within the DoM. You have worked tirelessly to ensure that we provide the most advanced care for the most complex disorders, while offering comprehensive primary care service. Just like our ranking in research, we cannot be complacent. We must continue to focus on things that we can do better. That said, we can only sustain this by supporting all of our faculty members who despite their commitment, to go the extra mile, are at risk of burning out. I am pleased to see that some of our initiatives to promote physician wellbeing will be front and center in the DMPG retreat that started this weekend. Importantly, we will be surveying all faculty to get a deeper of sense of the issues that are impacting faculty wellness and driving burnout. Please participate. The more we know, the better we will be able to respond. Work is already starting on identifying issues that we can quickly address, and I look forward to seeing the recommendations of the various groups, who I have asked to come up with actionable plans that we can implement in a timely manner.

Our past leadership deserves credit for the national and international reputation that we enjoy across multiple missions. As such, it was a great privilege for me, in my capacity as president of the Association Professors of Medicine, to confer the Robert H. Williams, MD Distinguished Chair of Medicine Award to our own Dr. Alan Fogelman

This award is the highest honor presented annually by the association: “to a physician who has demonstrated outstanding leadership as the Chair of a department of internal medicine”. To select the annual recipient, the APM paid predominant attention to the progress made by the nominee in the administration of a department of internal medicine. The association also considered the nominee’s contribution to academic internal medicine, in the areas of education, research and patient care. I believe that this was a fitting tribute to Dr. Fogelman’s outstanding career at the helm of our department. As we celebrate our rankings, we express tremendous gratitude to Alan for his years of service, his vision, and the foundation he created that will allow us to build an even stronger department.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to one of our young pulmonary faculty and graduate of our STAR Program Dr. Lawrence Benjamin, who embodies in many ways, what will make our department even stronger in the years to come.

I cannot say it more eloquently than from the GME office, in a letter signed by Drs. Lisa Skinner, Christina Harris, Medell Briggs-Malonson and Lovelee E. Brown.


As you well know, our institution prides itself on excellence in clinical care and health innovation. We have developed generations of fantastic clinicians; however, I would like to recognize a trainee in your department who has also demonstrated outstanding leadership and vision. 

Dr. Lawrence Benjamin is an inaugural executive board member of the UCLA Minority Housestaff Organization, which is a housestaff-driven organization dedicated to the mission of excellence through diversity. The organization began this academic year with the administrative and financial support of GME, UCLA Health, and DGSOM to support the recruiting, developing, and advancing historically under-represented physicians as well as improving access and quality of care for all patients at UCLA.

Dr. Lawrence Benjamin has specifically used their leadership to work closely with Dr. Medell Briggs-Malson and the office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. They have created our organization’s first annual Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Innovation grant, which is awarded to housestaff working on health equity pilot projects ranging from creating practice changing guidelines, understanding patient behaviors, quality improvement, and health disparities. Awardees were recognized at the organization’s annual holiday gala. Dr. Lawrence Benjamin also works with HEDI to advance population health, develop UCLA’s anchor hospital designation, language justice and increasing access for Medi-Cal patients in the ambulatory space.  

I am grateful for leaders like Dr. Lawrence Benjamin at our institution and their contribution to the greater medical community. They will undoubtedly continue to advance UCLA greatly and be an asset to any future institution.”

What you don’t know is that I first met Lawrence as a high school student in Salt Lake City, UT, and as I said to Lawrence after I read this letter, I would have expected nothing less!



We are hosting the second set of winter refugees this week. My sister and brother-in-law who live in St. Paul MN are here in California to defrost. I know that many of you grumbled how “cold” it was this weekend. Count your blessings!! This is my sister who tipped me off about Golden Krust patties, so to return the favor we were full-on Jamaican in Culver City for dinner on Saturday night (thanks Chinyere Minott, Float Comprehensive Care Coordinator and Ambulatory Care Coordination in the Faculty Practice Group for the restaurant recommendation).

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