The Four Pillars Every Academic Health Center Needs


Sidney-Kimmel-and-Crew-584x342Support for faculty, for students, for places to work, and for innovation. The gift to Jefferson by the Sidney Kimmel Foundation is important for its transformative size, but also for its targets.

Let me explain. I’ve talked about four pillars that can sustain academic health centers during rapid national change. This gift makes it possible for Jefferson to create a new future – one based on two new pillars of support.

As we know, the two traditional pillars holding up the roof for every academic health center remain critical at Jefferson:

  • the academic pillar of teaching and research
  • the clinical pillar of providing health care

But national change puts both these pillars under pressure at all academic health centers. The NIH is not increasing funding. Universities can’t keep charging more tuition. Because of federal changes, clinical reimbursements are shrinking. And funds for teaching resident physicians are being threatened each year in Congressional budgets.

At Jefferson, we believe academic medical centers must embrace two other pillars that are also equally core to our mission.

We must embrace innovation as a mission of American health care. It’s our job in university-based health centers to drive ideas and convert them into products, strategies and companies that help people directly. Universities have always been good at ideas: Now we need to take risks and bring those ideas to consumers and patients.

We must embrace philanthropy as part of our community mission – to improve lives, communities, and populations.

The Kimmel gift transforms all four of those pillars for Jefferson and for the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. It targets our traditional pillars by supporting faculty, students and patients. It also highlights innovation. And finally, the Kimmels demonstrated deeply held values of support for this university and its community.

With this gift, and others, the Kimmels are leading the transformation in health care America needs. This isn’t just a gift to Jefferson and to Philadelphia. This is a gift to an optimistic future for academic health care nationwide. We’re honored and we’re excited.