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About Us

We Believe

Medicine belongs to the public.  Our mission is to create a different kind of academic medicine, to tear down ivory towers, share knowledge and dedicate ourselves toward one goal - making life better for patients.

A Century Toward Innovation
Background: The Flexner Report

Abraham FlexnerIn 1911 Abraham Flexner issued a report that inspired sweeping reforms in medical education and research in the United States. Published by the Carnegie Foundation, the introduction to Flexner’s famous report drew this frightening picture of early twentieth century medical education:

“Very seldom, under existing conditions, does a patient receive the best aid which it is possible to give in the present state of medicine, and that is due mainly to the fact that a vast army of men is admitted to the practice of medicine who are untrained in sciences fundamental to the profession and quite without a sufficient experience with disease.”

The solution, wrote Flexner, was to create medical schools fashioned in the manner of rigorous universities rather than the trade schools that they resembled more closely.  

Flexner singled out the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, founded only thirty years earlier, as the model of the modern medical school.  Only Johns Hopkins, maintained “well-equipped laboratories … (directed) by modern teachers, devoting themselves unreservedly to medical investigation and instruction…” Moreover, Hopkins boasted “its own hospital, in which the training of physicians and the healing of the sick combine harmoniously to the infinite advantage of both”.  Flexner concluded by observing the impact that Hopkins had had ­ even then ­ on the profession of medicine:

“The influence of this new foundation can hardly be overstated.  It has finally cleared up the problem of standards and ideals; and its graduates have gone forth in small bands to found new establishments”.   Resulting from Flexner’s report was a revolution in American medical education that directly contributed to much of the medical progress experienced during the remainder of the twentieth century.


The Twenty-first Century Challenge

Composite photo of science, medicine, technologyNow, in the early years of the twenty-first century, medicine again confronts enormous challenges as a complicated and inefficient medical system struggles to care for an increasingly diverse, older American population saddled with a myriad of chronic diseases. Repairing this system presents many challenges, as the issues are extremely significant and many individuals must work together to develop pragmatic solutions.  Some issues are political—e.g. access—and hence largely outside the purview of the academic medical centers like Johns Hopkins. Others— such as medical education and delivery of care—cannot be addressed without the leadership of these academic centers.    Therefore, it is essential that these centers move beyond their current sole focus on disease-specific research to embrace innovation for the entire health system.  Thus, Hopkins and its peer institutions must expand their focus to include innovations in medical education:  to more effective patient-doctor communication, to the transfer of new diagnostic technologies to the hands of treating physicians, to assurances of patient safety, to creative approaches to health care for seniors, and to efficient infrastructures for translating laboratory advances to both the clinic and marketplace.


How to Meet the Challenge:
The Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Medicine (CIM)

When it comes to funding for such a broader approach, however, our government has directed the vast majority of its support ($28 billion) on the side of discovering cures -- and has virtually ignored innovation in the process of care.  We need both. As a first step in correcting this detrimental imbalance, and acting in the tradition of the Carnegie Foundation Trustees in 1911, William R. Brody, President of  The Johns Hopkins University, urged Dr. Hellmann and Mr. Paisner to create a Center for Innovative Medicine (CIM).   The many activities of the CIM fall into three main categories, with one overriding focus -- the patient.

  • The patient comes first.  The patient should be foremost in the minds of basic scientists, working in laboratories to unlock molecular secrets to disease; of faculty members, breaking down divisional barriers and working together; of medical educators, training the next generation of physicians. (see Aliki Initiative)
  • Collaboration.  If we had a logo, it would be a bridge.  We are forging new connections every day.  Our collaborations are within the hospital, between doctors and nurses, physicians and scientists, from one department to another; they are local, in outreach to the community outside our hospital doors; national, as we work to change standards for teaching, and for valuing clinicians and teachers; and global, in partnerships such as the one between our faculty and Chinese physicians.
  • Wise use of technology.  Here is where we put puzzle pieces together.  Amazing technology is at our fingertips.  Are we making the most of it?  Do patients need it -- despite all the bells and whistles?  Can its use be smarter, and can we make it more accessible?  Can it answer questions we haven't even thought of?  What's best for the patient?

We firmly believe that we are launching a new movement in medicine -- a revolution in how doctors are taught, and how physicians work together.  Success of the Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Medicine will prompt other departments, schools, and universities to launch similar centers just as Flexner’s praise of the Hopkins educational system a hundred years ago inspired other universities to restructure their approach to medical education.  With this momentum, we believe the public will support creation of a national institute to ensure adequate funding for all research pathways that could improve the health of Americans.  Then, the nation will move forward vigorously to address and resolve the serious problems that confront health care today.