For many years, I have talked about making sure that what we do at VCU matter beyond our own campus, about focusing our limited resources toward solving urgent and vital problems people face, amd about making the biggest possibilities of life more accessible to more people.
Since 1838, we have committed to being a part of our communities, not apart from them.
In doing so, we have modeled what higher education in the 21st century should be and vowed that we will be the ones to do what’s difficult despite any obstacle we face.
Why have we made this commitment together?
Because we have the talent and focus to do so. And because it needs to be done. Humanity’s greatest problems are not waiting for the right time to be solved; they are waiting for the right people to solve them. Those people are at VCU.
So what problems are we focused on solving?
Specifically, I see seven areas where humanity’s great need meets VCU’s great expertise. They are neuroscience and the brain disease of addiction, cancer, cardiovascular health, children’s and women’s health, pharmaceutical engineering, information technology and computer science, and social justice. While these certainly are not the only focuses of our research mission, they are areas of great need and areas in which we have a substantial impact when we collaborate around them.
That is exactly what we do, and not just in one or two places. When our faculty and student researchers come together across disciplines, focused on the breakthroughs that will advance humanity, we make really big things happen.
And we gain national attention.
For example, there is a reason that VCU is the first university in Virginia to be awarded a renowned $21.5 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. These awards go to universities who collaborate across disciplines within their own institution and with community partners around the region, all with the shared goal of accelerating innovative research that advances the scientific study of human health. The award is about translation; that is, research that bridges the gap between basic science and improving health in our communities. It is about collaboration.
The NIH, and others, see that everywhere at VCU.
The C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, the recipient of the CTSA, is the embodiment of collaboration and translational research that makes a difference. It does exactly what our vision for VCU is: unifying resources toward problems that matter. The Wright Center acts as an incubator for VCU faculty members and VCU Health clinical staff who are eager to advance human health through research.
VCU Massey Cancer Center also unites physicians, care partners, and researchers from across the university to conquer cancer from all sides.
The VCU daVinci Center—a collaboration among our colleges of Engineering and Humanities and Sciences and schools of the Arts and Business—brings together innovative and entrepreneurial students whose passions and talents extend beyond a single idea of discipline.
At VCU, our brand of research focuses on solving problems together. And so, we will be the ones who do what’s difficult. We will move forward together so that we may move humanity forward.