Evolving to Succeed

Established 25 years ago, Johns Hopkins Medicine has enabled us to thrive.

Published in Hopkins Medicine - Fall 2021

Over its history, Johns Hopkins has regularly evolved in response to circumstances. This has been crucial to our continual success. This year, we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of a decision that exemplifies this flexibility. In 1996, in response to the growing complexity of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Health System Corporation, the two organizations joined together to form Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Since then, this more unified governance model has allowed each entity to collaborate and thrive. There have been many more successes than I can list here, but I’d like to highlight a few to give you a sense of all that we’ve accomplished.

One crucial achievement has been our focus on safety, not only within our own institution, but nationally and internationally. In 2011, we founded the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, and have helped popularize the now-widespread use of safety checklists to reduce medical errors.

Another triumph has been our medical school curriculum, known as “Genes to Society.” Unveiled in 2009, it provides our students with the tools they need to excel clinically and scientifically.

Over the past quarter-century, JHM has also added to its exemplary record of innovative research. We have led the way in pursuing precision medicine, identifying targeted approaches to study and treat a wide range of chronic diseases. Our research record was further burnished two years ago, when Gregg Semenza won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on how the human body adapts to fluctuations in oxygen.

We’ve also greatly expanded our clinical enterprise. Since 1996, we have added four hospitals: Howard County General Hospital in Columbia, Suburban in Bethesda, Sibley in Washington, D.C., and All Children’s in Florida (Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center was acquired in 1984). We’re now working to grow our ambulatory enterprise throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Moreover, we have transformed our East Baltimore campus, with the addition of the Sheikh Zayed Cardiovascular and Critical Care Tower and the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center. This work continues today, with the ongoing renovation of the Children’s Medical and Surgical Center Building, as well as the construction of a new North Tower Addition on the site of the former Brady Building.

We’ve also worked to improve other aspects of our clinical approach. In the past, faculty members who focus primarily on patient care sometimes felt that their achievements were not adequately recognized. In 2020, after careful consideration, we instituted the Clinical Excellence Track, to better reward this group.

In addition, in recent years, JHM has increasingly focused on diversity and inclusion, as well as health equity in the communities we serve. We have created the Office of Women in Science and Medicine and the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity. We know that we have more work to do in these areas, but we have made important progress. In 2015, Robert S.D.
became the first Black physician to chair a department in the school when he joined Johns Hopkins as surgeon-in-chief at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and director of the Department of Surgery. The next year, we appointed Redonda Miller to be president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the first female leader of that entity. In 2020, Namandje Bumpus became director of the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences — the first African American woman to lead a department at the school. And this spring, Jessica Melton became the first Black president of a JHM hospital when she was appointed to lead Suburban.

Perhaps more than any other event over the past quarter-century, the pandemic has illustrated the ability of our people and our organization to respond to the challenge. We have modified how we care for patients, do research and educate trainees. Across the board, we continue to do whatever it takes to succeed.

So where will Johns Hopkins Medicine be in 25 years? I expect that incredible new inventions and technologies will continue to transform medicine and science. I am confident that we will continue to respond and to innovate, adjusting course so that we continue to excel.