Year 2. February 21. Number 1.

Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research Rankings of NIH Funding in 2022

Each week, I enjoy learning about the department of medicine’s (DoM) accolades and accomplishments which demonstrate our leadership across our missions. This week, I am pleased to highlight that in the research mission, the department has reclaimed its spot as the #1 NIH funded department of medicine according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

While we celebrate this milestone, it is critical to note that our standing is partly the reflection of a large award that will sunset in the next two years. Digging into these numbers, I see opportunities and threats. Relative to some of our peers, although our average award size is similar, we lag in the number of NIH-funded principal investigators. I believe that we have the talent to improve this metric, but to achieve this we must be strategic and deliberate, playing the long game to strengthen our base of funded investigators. It is imperative that we continue to mentor and support our talented junior faculty as they seek independent research grants, build collaborations internally and externally that will increase our competitiveness for other large NIH awards, strengthen core research capabilities, meaningfully address research space challenges, and recruit new talent to the department. In the next few weeks, I will be announcing who will be assuming the position of vice chair of research. Together with the senior leadership of the DoM, we will increase our focus in concert with you, the members of our research community, to develop our department’s strategic plan for research that will guide our strategy for sustainable success as a research-intensive department of medicine. In the meantime, let’s celebrate our current success and congratulate all our faculty whose innovative projects and commitment to discovery collectively contributed to building our impressive NIH-funded grant portfolio.

2023 Department of Medicine Professional Group Annual Retreat

The 2023 Department of Medicine Professional Group Annual Retreat was a great success that provided an opportunity for our DMPG faculty to meet virtually and in-person for a series of educational activities and community building during the week of February 6-11. It was a pleasure to join our DMPG faculty at the in-person event on Saturday, February 11th at the Luskin Center. I felt the energy and dynamism as we networked and learned from each other so that we can continue to grow and excel as a department. I had the privilege of sharing remarks about how our department will continue to support our faculty in meaningful ways that allow you to thrive as you care for our patients and develop your careers.

E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD speaking at 2023 DMPG Annual Retreat.
DMPG Faculty at 2023 DMPG Annual Retreat.
DMPG Faculty at 2023 DMPG Annual Retreat.
Igor Kagan, MD speaking at 2023 DMPG Annual Retreat.

I was pleased to share that from a financial standpoint, the DoM had a record year of revenue with $1.6 billion generated by clinical revenue, grants, and contracts. As we have continued to strengthen our financial position, we acknowledge the growing need as a health system to strategically invest in our future in ways that will help us expand our operation by increasing the number of covered lives under our care, building physical and referral capacity and increasing access for our patients, while maintaining the highest levels of quality. We also have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that if the sky were to fall tomorrow, we have reserves available to allow us to continue operations without skipping a beat. I shared that the department has 4.26 months of cash on hand to keep this ship afloat, which now places us above minimum reserve expectations for an academic medicine department, meaning that we have the opportunity to make strategic investments. So, as we look to the future, how do we proceed to achieve this goal?

E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD speaking at 2023 DMPG Annual Retreat.

Through strategic planning of course! We have officially launched the strategic planning process under the leadership of Libby Shin, executive director of the office of the chair of medicine, at DGSOM, and UCLA Health. Over the next nine months, we will work together as a department to create a multi-year road map that is consensus and data driven. The road map will define where we are, where we should be, and how we are getting there. Over the next few months, we will be conducting focused interviews with departmental and institutional leaders to discuss our priorities across our missions. We will also host focus groups and conduct a department-wide survey to capture as many voices in the department as possible. We have enlisted the support of peer institutions such as Duke, Vanderbilt, and UCSF to compare our performance and identify how we can learn and grow from our strengths and challenges. We have finalized membership of our steering committee and I invite you to learn who they are HERE and speak with them to share your insight and opinion about the department’s future.

The DoM strategic planning process is taking place as we begin to execute on an independent UCLA Health ambulatory care strategic plan. The spectacular growth of our DoM ambulatory network and its success has created pressure points for our patients particularly when they need to access specialists outside of our department. We are working closely with health system ambulatory care leadership to identify how we can continue to grow while meeting the demand for additional services. I will also be working closely with clinical chairs across the health system from the beginning of this process, to ensure that specialty services are available and that we achieve coordinated growth. We look forward to expanding into new communities that allow us to reach new patients in need of the high-quality care that we are known for. An essential aspect of the ambulatory growth strategy is ensuring that we provide equitable access to all members of our LA community.

Recipients of the 2021 Annual Robert K. Oye, MD Awards

At our in-person event we also had the opportunity to have a belated celebration for the recipients of the 2021 Annual Robert K. Oye, MD Awards. The Annual Robert K. Oye, MD Awards recognize the best clinical vignettes articles published in the Proceedings of UCLA Health to honor all of Dr. Oye’s hard work in establishing and maintaining this DoM journal. First place winners receive a $3,000 award, second place winners receive a $2,000 award, and third place winners receive a $1,000 award. After reviewing 200 submissions, the committee is proud to announce the following winners for the 2021 year:

I had a great time meeting with our faculty and staff at the DMPG Annual Retreat and appreciated the opportunity to thank you in person for impact you’ve had in the communities you serve, the school of medicine, at UCLA Health, and on the lives of our trainees.

Protectors' Appreciation Week 2023, January 30-February 3, 2023

I am pleased to note that the LAX Coastal Chamber recognized our faculty and staff at the Marina Del Rey practice during Protector’s Appreciation Week 2023. This special recognition is a celebration of their tireless efforts to serve the community these last three years during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud and grateful that we can count on this team, along with all the teams from the South Bay up to San Luis Obispo, for their unwavering commitment to providing the best care to our patients.

Members of the Marina Del Rey community practice pictured above and below.

7th Annual Internal Medicine Primary Care Retreat 

On the theme of retreats, our primary care residents engaged in their 7th annual Primary Care Retreat on Friday, February 10, where they brainstormed ideas to strengthen our mission and educational curriculum, followed by some rest and relaxation by the beach. The highlight of the day was the personal reflections and vulnerability shared in the keynote speech “The Balancing Act: Finding Joy in Primary Care” by our own Dr. Carol Mangione, chief of the division of general internal medicine & health services research, and chair of the United States Preventive Services Task Force! Enjoy a few pictures from the event below.

Primary care residents at the 7th Annual Internal Medicine Primary Care Retreat.
Primary care residents at the 7th Annual Internal Medicine Primary Care Retreat.
Primary care residents at the 7th Annual Internal Medicine Primary Care Retreat.
Carol Mangione, MD and Rebecca Tsevat, MD at the 7th Annual Internal Medicine Primary Care Retreat.
Primary care residents at the 7th Annual Internal Medicine Primary Care Retreat.

2023 DoM Wellness Survey

I have been reviewing the results of the 2022 wellness survey, which not unexpectedly revealed many of the challenges to faculty well-being that were articulated to me when I arrived a year ago. As you know the department and our wellness committee has implemented numerous initiatives aimed at addressing many of the concerns that were raised. We want to understand how things are progressing. As such, I encourage you to complete the 2023 survey that was released last week. Watch your inbox for an email from us with the survey link. Participation by all members of the DoM will be critical as we seek to evaluate what is working and what else we need to do.



This is perhaps the most important picture from the DMPG retreat. Joash Wampande and his support team from the DoM who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the retreat was a spectacular success.

E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD and Joash Wampande (center) with DoM Administrative Team.

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