Transforming Science and Medicine

A new research tower will foster collaboration.

Published in Hopkins Medicine - Fall 2022

Some 133 years ago, the founders and the first clinicians at The Johns Hopkins Hospital transformed the way medicine was practiced and taught. Our founders’ vision to integrate medical and scientific research into the hospital’s mission is how Johns Hopkins set the standard for academic medical centers across the country and around the world.

On July 1, I was appointed interim dean of the Johns Hopkins medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. I’m both deeply honored and humbled to be entrusted with such a position at the preeminent academic medical center in the world and to represent the outstanding faculty, staff and students of our great institution. I couldn’t begin to list all the reasons to be excited about the future at Johns Hopkins. But the opportunity to continue the tradition of transformative science and medicine is certainly at the top of the list.

I have the rare opportunity to advance a project that was seeded under the leadership of Dr. Paul B. Rothman, who served as the dean and CEO until his retirement this year. One of his many achievements during his tenure was his focus on a “big picture” plan for the East Baltimore medical campus. The plan he championed serves as a road map to accomplishing our tripartite mission and to being a reliable, trusted neighbor in East Baltimore.

We’re a year or so into the renovation and construction of the centerpiece of that plan: a space on our medical campus where our faculty, learners and staff can do the miraculous and painstaking work that goes into biomedical research and discovery.

On the north side of our medical campus — specifically, Monument Street between Broadway and Wolfe Street — was a cluster of buildings that, over the years, became outdated and underutilized. That spot will soon be home to a 12-story research tower with over 175,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory and computational space. Slated to be completed in phases, the tower’s first occupants are scheduled to move in by fall 2024. We expect the whole project will be complete by summer 2026.

But this isn’t simply additional space.

Leaders from both The Johns Hopkins University and the School of Medicine, as well as our facilities team, have worked with a team of architects and designers who specialize in spaces that inspire and encourage scientific collaboration. The result will be 12 floors of “scientific neighborhoods,” where research teams will work in close proximity to one other, encouraging innovative, cross-disciplinary collaborations.

I know from experience how important it is to have laboratory space that promotes collaboration, creative thinking and experimentation. In my research lab, we work to find new ways to kill prostate cancer cells with radiation. We engineer new RNA molecules that target prostate cancer and the cancer’s ability to inhibit repair of radiation-induced damage. And we tested and translated into patients the first gene therapy that used a common-cold virus to target and kill prostate cancer cells, while leaving normal, non-prostate cells unharmed.

That kind of work doesn’t happen in ordinary laboratory space.

The new research tower will keep Johns Hopkins on course to continue its leadership around the world. I have no doubt it will be the site of many fundamental and translational scientific discoveries in biomedical science.

I’m deeply grateful to our Boards of Trustees of The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Hospital for their confidence, trust and guidance. I’m grateful to our stellar staff and faculty, more than 40,000 strong.

And I’m grateful to the people whose gifts make our work possible. You are much more than generous donors; you’re members of the Johns Hopkins family. I hope you’ll stay with us on our continuing journey of innovation, patient care and scientific discovery. I look forward to sharing the world-leading advances that have their genesis in this new space.