Office of Institutional Advancement

Jefferson Ambassadors

Jefferson Ambassadors are influencers and difference-makers who receive special "insider" updates from Dr. Stephen Klasko on important advances and significant news at Jefferson. Regular spotlights include articles from Jefferson experts on "Health and Wellness" and "Research and Innovation." We hope these stories inspire you to pass along to friends and associates how Jefferson is reimagining health, health education and discovery to create unparalleled value. If you wish to learn more about Jefferson Ambassadors or prefer to receive updates by email, please contact Sara Campbell.

April 2018 Edition

April 2018

Healthcare is the only consumer product or service that doesn’t focus on consumers. For five years, I’ve been saying that our industry needs to change from mostly hospitals and insurance companies calling the shots to consumer-healthcare entities where patients are the boss.

The giant employer-sponsored healthcare market, where companies and workers split the cost of premiums, provides coverage for some 160 million Americans. No wonder heads turned—and health company stocks tumbled—when titans Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase announced earlier this year that they were partnering to form an independent, not-for-profit company aimed at bringing healthcare costs under control.

This announcement by CEOs Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Jamie Dimon was their “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore” moment. This was the disruptive, we-CAN-fix-healthcare approach that I’ve been championing.

Jefferson’s “product” isn’t our big academic hospital in Philadelphia, even if it’s ranked number 16 in the country. Jefferson’s true value to consumers is the skilled care and devoted caring our doctors and nurses provide. We’re moving to get that product closer to where people are, whether it’s in Center City, the Greater Northeast, Montgomery County, New Jersey, or even in their home through telehealth.

The big three corporations offered few specifics about how they might disrupt and transform healthcare, but it’s a sure bet that technology will be part of it. Jefferson has already made that move, connecting our physicians directly with patients. Instead of coming to the hospital when something goes wrong, our patients can consult with a doctor through JeffConnect on their computers, phones, or tablets. The tech-mediated conversation may lead to a visit at one of our seven urgent care centers, a trip to a nearby 24-hour pharmacy to fill a prescription, or a decision to wait until morning for an office visit. And with JeffConnect virtual triage, we’re steering patients away from the ER—which is overused across patient populations, resulting in some $38 billion nationwide in wasteful spending—and into the best settings in our network for unscheduled care.

With this kind of one-click healthcare, we estimate as much as 73 percent of our non-ambulance emergency room visits could be handled without the trip as patients become comfortable using telehealth. The right care at the right time in the right place. This is what healthcare looks like when it joins the consumer revolution.

In the near future, physicians will be keyed in to artificial intelligence (AI) systems like IBM Watson, which will do the heavy lifting of memorizing medical facts, freeing docs to listen and talk to patients. We’re already experimenting with Amazon’s Alexa application at Jefferson Health – Northeast Torresdale Hospital. When time is critical, this digital assistant enables emergency department doctors to rapidly handle the transfer of trauma patients. What used to consume vital minutes with multiple phone calls can now be accomplished without picking up a phone. Just say, “Hey, Alexa. I need to transfer a patient to Jefferson.” The physician’s attention stays on the patient while Alexa takes care of coordinating the hand-off, passing along the information needed to make it go smoothly and quickly.

Using the massive power of computers, technology is allowing us to push back frontiers even further. By mining big data, Dr. Isidore Rigoutsos, director of Jefferson’s Computational Medicine Center, is peering deep into the human genome to understand how some of its tiniest structures may be the source of some of humanity’s biggest maladies. Computational medicine uses computer models and sophisticated software to figure out how disease develops—and how to thwart it. At Jefferson, when it comes to taking a high-tech approach to research and healing, we’re on the edge of the cutting edge.

In healthcare, it’s no longer enough for us to look only at what’s happening in our hospitals. We have to look at what’s happening in our cities and make sure the people around us are getting the care they need—whether they’re coming to our hospital or not. In Philadelphia, we have the highest neighborhood-by-neighborhood discrepancy in life expectancy of any major city in the country. With several major academic medical centers in Philly, it’s unacceptable that your ZIP code says more about your life and health than your genetic code. That’s why, at the last Jefferson Gala in November, we announced the creation of the Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity, a creative partnership that we will coordinate to make sure everyone, regardless of ZIP code, has a fair shot at a healthy and happy life. You can read more about it in the enclosure.

I’m proud of what Jefferson is doing to create a better future for our patients. We have the talent. We have the dedication. We have the vision. Let’s move forward together.


Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA
President and CEO
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

November 2017 Edition

Stephen Spinelli, Jr., PhD

When I came to Jefferson four years ago, someone told me there are two things you don’t want to run: academics and healthcare. Fixing these complex, inefficient, expensive, and inequitable systems would be impossible, he explained. I took impossible as an opportunity and ended up leading both.

Now, for only the second time in our history, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is listed on the U.S. News & World Report elite Honor Roll, ranked as the nation’s 16th best hospital. That’s number 16 out of 4,658 hospitals, which puts us among healthcare stars like Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins. Our rise reflects our hospital’s exceptional medical staff and Jefferson Health’s commitment to the highest quality care, safety, and research, which directly impacts patient outcomes and the communities we serve.

We’ve also been fortunate to attract many smart people into the Jefferson orbit. Dr. Stephen Spinelli, formerly president of the former Philadelphia University and now chancellor of the newly merged Jefferson University, is one of them. He’s a big believer in turning thought into action. Before he was an academician, Steve was an entrepreneur. He still is. He knows how to spot opportunity, put together a plan, and take action that gets you from the big idea to the value it creates.

In his Q&A, Dr. Spinelli talks about leaders who understand that higher education is broken. The challenges are daunting. When it comes to finding a way forward, many are paralyzed. My hero in matters like this is Jedi master Yoda, who counsels, “Fear is the path to the dark side.” Steve Spinelli and I see a bright future. Using all the data, technology, creativity, rigor, and passion we can muster, that’s where we’re going.

If anyone asks why a nearly 200-year-old health sciences university would partner with a university that excels in design, innovation, and experiential learning, it’s because together we can reimagine a new kind of professional, hands-on education to meet a different kind of future—one where work and learning intersect, and where universities and industries are teaching-and-learning partners. The university of the future will look less like the four-year institutions of today and more like 24/7 learning labs, where students matriculate, graduate, and return again—in person or virtually—over the course of a career or of several careers.

This kind of informed and optimistic thought-into-action is happening all across Jefferson.

Take cancer, where Jefferson jumped from number 29 to 20 in the U.S. News rankings. Researcher Christine Eischen, PhD, is homing in on genetic regulators that govern how cancer runs rampant through the body. Her discoveries hold out the promise of being turned into molecular therapies that could cut the legs out from under this metastatic disease and keep it from spreading. But there’s more.

At Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, we know great healthcare is more than healing hands: it’s holding hands too. That’s because diseases like cancer afflict more than organs. They unsettle the whole person and the lives of those who love them. The idea behind the Neu Center for Supportive Medicine and Cancer Survivorship, which Brooke Woster, MD, discusses, is to leap beyond conventional cancer care, which treats the physical illness, to caring that maximizes wellbeing in every domain of life—social, emotional, work, home, recreation—from diagnosis through treatment to recovery. It’s healing focused not just on the cancer but on the person. We call it Cancer Care 360, a comprehensive approach that combines frontline therapies and research with personalized psychosocial support to set a new standard of care. Thanks to the vision and generosity of Esperanza and David Neu, we’re turning the idea for Cancer Care 360 into a program that connects healthcare dots in social work, oncology, psychiatry, diet, care coordination, and more, creating unparalleled value for patients.

The entrepreneurial outlook at Jefferson is raising eyebrows and turning heads. Recently, the NIH awarded a grant that could total $30 million—one of the largest in Jefferson’s history—to Matthias Schnell, PhD, to continue developing a vaccine that could eradicate the threat of four hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola. Philadelphia’s Monell Center, a world leader in taste and smell research, has turned toward Jefferson and signed a Letter of Intent for a merger. When you combine Jefferson’s clinical expertise, linking the senses with health, with the entrepreneurial research environment of our university and add the esteemed Monell Center into the mix, that’s how you improve lives.

To spark the innovation needed to ignite sweeping change in higher education and healthcare, we must shed conventional ways of thinking and shatter the traditional molds of our industries and do them differently.

At Jefferson, we’re taking Master Yoda’s sage advice: “Do or do not. There is no try.” We CAN fix healthcare, and we CAN fix higher education. Thank you for being a part of our journey.


Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA
President and CEO
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

P.S. As a Jefferson Ambassador, you are an important member of the Jefferson community, and your input matters. Please take two minutes to fill out a short online survey about this mailing at to help ensure we’re providing information that is meaningful to you. Thanks for all you do.

July 2017 Edition

Neu Center

In my address at Jefferson’s 193rd commencement in May, I quoted one of my heroes, Steve Jobs. “Your time is limited,” he said, “so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

The quote was my parting advice to the class of 2017. Seeing their bright faces and knowing the rigorous preparation they had just completed, I was optimistic that the future of healthcare is in capable hands. But I was encouraging them to trust something beyond their Jefferson training. Their own inner voice and personal creativity are the surest guides to who they will become as professionals and what healthcare will look like as they shape its future. 

I urged our graduates to take personal responsibility for what’s wrong with healthcare and not be afraid to embrace bold ideas that will disrupt it. That’s what Jefferson is doing today. It’s what we’ve always done. Our legacy of medical firsts, from the first ambulance to the first heart-lung bypass, and our passion for innovative solutions will keep us making history in the years ahead.

When I arrived at Jefferson in September 2013, I told the community that no one could say what healthcare would look like in the future, but I promised that in five years, Jefferson would not look like it did then. Together, we’ve been making good on that promise. We’re not updating the past by tinkering around the edges of received dogma: We’re reimagining. We’re following our own inspiration, our own inner compass. The change that’s underway at Jefferson is a thoroughgoing transformation that puts people at the heart of everything we do and then designs a better future to serve their needs.

Our mergers with the Abington and Aria health systems, and later this summer with Kennedy Health, are about extending next-generation clinical care, the kind available only at academic medical centers like Jefferson, into hometown communities, where patients receive the right care at the right time at the right cost. We want healthcare to join the consumer revolution by making it easy for people to access Jefferson services, whether it’s through Jefferson Urgent Care or a Jefferson primary-care practice or through JeffConnect, our telehealth service that connects patients with Jefferson doctors anytime, anywhere. That customer-service approach to healthcare is revolutionary because it puts the patient experience front and center. It’s what’s behind the Marcus Institute of Integrative Medicine in Villanova and the new Asplundh Cancer Pavilion under construction in Willow Grove.

Our transformational partnership with National Jewish Health, the leading respiratory hospital in the United States, was announced just this spring. Jefferson shares with National Jewish Health the same commitment to excellence and the same entrepreneurial approach to building a better healthcare future. By combining our distinctive Clinical-Research-Integrated-Strategic-Program approach to healthcare and research with National Jewish Health’s world-class expertise and globally recognized protocols, we will create new and better options for patients in the Jefferson Health network who suffer from illnesses that afflict 1 in 4 Americans. Our collaboration is all about leveraging the difference we already make through the Jane and Leonard Korman Lung Center and raising it to the power of National Jewish Health by creating the Jane and Leonard Korman Respiratory Institute. This will open the door to more healing, more breakthrough science, better teaching in respiratory care, and more advanced training for the next generation of pulmonology leaders.

Watching our newly minted doctors, nurses, health scientists, and healthcare professionals processioning out of commencement and into the future, I couldn’t help thinking how, with our merger with Philadelphia University, health is no longer all we do. Many were surprised by the move. But when you think about the two places where healthcare needs an extreme makeover, academics and patient care, this merger is the obvious culmination of the reimagining of Jefferson.

PhilaU has the nation’s number 10 design school, and they excel in interdisciplinary learning. The future of healthcare isn’t about more and bigger hospitals or doing it my way or the highway. It’s about the patient experience, and that means human-centered design. The future—in healthcare, in business, in almost every profession—is a people-centered enterprise. It’s about collaboration and communication and teamwork, and that’s what the comprehensive university created by this merger will prepare students for.

Innovation thrives when clinicians and healthcare professionals feel empowered to find their own solutions—to design smarter services, new devices, and better products. That’s why Jefferson has been building design thinking into our curriculum, and that’s part of the reasoning behind our merger with PhilaU. It’s a merger of mindsets as much as a merger of institutions.

Healthcare is moving rapidly in the direction of population health and preventative medicine, creating unprecedented opportunities to make an impact on well-being and health before people even set foot inside a hospital. Today, the community is becoming part of the care equation through telemedicine and decentralized care networks that meet people where they live, making high-quality healthcare more accessible than ever. Merging the culture of healthcare with mindsets from disciplines like architecture or industrial design, particular strengths of PhilaU, will help our graduates deploy what are now regarded as nonclinical thought modes in the service of health and flourishing. Apps for making appointments, consulting with doctors, or keeping track of prescriptions, and wearable devices that weave medical technology into everyday clothing, will keep people healthy and out of the hospital. But our merger is about more than healthcare. If anyone asks why an almost 200-year-old health sciences university would partner with a university that excels in design, entrepreneurship, and experiential learning, it’s because together we can reimagine a new kind of education to meet a different kind of future.

Design and healthcare are inextricably linked. The link is people. In order for healthcare to fundamentally transform, it needs to be about the people, both the patients and those who care for them. At Jefferson, we make people better. We heal those who come to us as patients and trust us to keep them well, and we make the caregivers better—more creative; more collaborative; more empathetic; and, like Jefferson, not trapped in the old dogmas.

Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA 
President and CEO 
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health


September 2016 Edition

Medical Cannabis Research; Spinal Infection; We CAN Fix Healthcare; Jefferson, Aria Merger; Abington-Jefferson Cancer Care Center; New Community Engagement Center; SKMC Receives $2M; Dominic & Michele Frederico Building Dedication; Medical Cannabis Education & Research Center; CIO 100 Award Winners

Jefferson, Aria complete merger

For our current issue of Healthcare Transformation, I interviewed entrepreneur Bernie Marcus. One of the great success stories of our time, Bernie had this idea about low prices and home-improvement products in one-stop-shopping warehouse stores with advice-givers in orange aprons helping customers pick out materials and tools for do-it-yourself projects. People told him it was crazy, but Bernie turned the idea into The Home Depot, one of America’s fastest-growing companies.

In our conversation, Bernie remarked, “I do not believe in the status quo.” His agnosticism didn’t surprise me. I’ve long admired his vision and moxie, which inspired him to dismiss “the way things are” and reimagine something completely fresh as well as functional. We can learn a lot from Bernie.

With spiraling costs, mindboggling complexity and inefficiency, and grinding inertia, healthcare needs a new model—not a few tweaks to some tired parts of the system, but an extreme makeover that renders the existing model obsolete. People say it’s impossible—a crazy idea—but I say We CAN Fix Healthcare, which is the title of the newly published book I’ve written with Dr. Greg Shea. The book outlines 12 “disruptors” that will enable us to create better healthcare delivery for the future. We’ve already started doing it at Jefferson, picking up the pace of change, encouraging patients to expect a healthcare consumer revolution, selecting and educating a different kind of healthcare professional and forming creative partnerships.

Just over a year after Jefferson merged with Abington, which has been a superb arrangement for both parties, we have joined with Aria Health. Mergers and partnerships are a national healthcare trend because larger systems can more effectively innovate, manage community health and bring the right care to the right place at the right time. It’s not about getting bigger: it’s about getting better by keeping everything we do patient- and community-centered. Partnering with Aria enables Jefferson—and Aria—to secure a healthier future for our institutions and, more importantly, for the communities we serve. It also enables Jefferson to bring frontline, hi-tech healthcare and advanced specialties typically offered at academic medical centers to our neighbors in the northeast.

In the spring, we celebrated with Abington the groundbreaking for its Asplundh Cancer Pavilion. As I hefted a shovel of dirt, it occurred to me that it wasn’t the beginning of a splendid new facility but a fruition of our close cooperation. The new center will make what is already some of the best cancer care in the region even better. Jefferson is proud to be a part of what Ed Asplundh has called “a command center for the continuing war against mankind’s most difficult disease” and “a building of hope, compassion and health.” Across the Delaware River in New Jersey, Kennedy Health System’s cancer center recently became part of our Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Network. The new partnership gives Kennedy patients and physicians access to advanced research, medical education, cancer screenings, precision-medicine as well as Jefferson telehealth consultations. Both systems recently entered into a binding Definitive Agreement for merging, which due to our unique hub-and-hub model, will give Kennedy equal representation on Jefferson’s expanded board. With these mergers and partnerships, Jefferson is continuing to drive the transformation of healthcare—and the creation of healthier communities—in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Our partnerships don’t end with health systems but extend throughout the communities we serve. A philanthropic partnership to establish the Steven H. Korman Center for Community Engagement is a terrific example. Housed in the Institute of Emerging Health Professions (IEHP), the center will do exactly what its name says: engage the community by connecting people to people through communication, education and opportunities that benefit everyone it touches. The Steven H. Korman Center for Community Engagement, through certificate programs in fields like community health workers, advanced medical assistants, nutritional counselors and health coaches, and patient navigators, will encircle people in their homes and their neighborhoods, and will empower them to take charge of their own health and the health of their community. The training programs help move healthcare delivery from the hospital to where they are needed most—in the community. It all adds up to more opportunities, greater access and better health for disadvantaged neighbors who often get left behind.

Philanthropic investments fund better healing, smarter learning, greater discovery and more service to our neighbors—and they are vital for Jefferson’s future. A gift from the Connelly Foundation enabled us to launch the Communication Catalyst Program, an educational innovation that offers professional development and training for nurses at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The program is sure to magnify our hospital’s MAGNET status, a designation granted to fewer than 7 percent of America’s hospitals and the gold standard of quality patient care and nursing excellence. We know that better patient-nurse communication is directly linked to better patient care and better patient outcomes, and expect the Communication Catalyst Program to have impacts beyond these important measures—greater responsiveness of hospital staff, enhanced communication about medication (therefore better safety), increased nurse satisfaction, and with higher patient-satisfaction scores, there will be a direct impact on Jefferson’s bottom line as reimbursements become more closely tied to patient outcomes. We also believe program data will produce research that will affect quality of life far beyond our own community.

Nancy and Jim Baxter saw firsthand the special care-with-caring that Jefferson excels at and made a generous gift, creating the Baxter Family Scholarships, which support minority medical students. Diversity is critical to our ability to excel as innovators and compassionate caregivers. Without tolerance for different opinions, orientations and experiences, there is no collaboration, no exploration, no pushing back of boundaries. Only by respecting one another’s cultures and beliefs will we be able to understand and care for each other or trust enough to challenge ideas and push each other to more creative possibilities. Another way we’re leveraging ingenuity, and our history of medical firsts, is through entrepreneurial programming in the Jefferson Accelerator Zone, which now has a new home in the Dominic and Michele Frederico Building, where students partner with seasoned “mentor-preneurs” to take big ideas from whiteboard to the “bedside” market. Both diversity and creativity are keys that unlock a better healthcare future for us all.

Jefferson labs have helped to brighten tomorrow’s health landscape. Researchers Drs. Cao Huang and Bo Huang provided vital evidence for a study showing that mutations in a gene called TMEM230 are a cause of Parkinson’s disease. The findings, published in Nature Genetics by scientists in North America and China, offer important insights into how the disease develops in the brain and hold out a promise of treatments for an illness that has no cure. TMEM230 is the first gene associated with Parkinson’s linked to brain-cell mechanisms that carry the neurotransmitter dopamine between neurons. Loss of dopamine-producing neurons is a defining characteristic of the neurodegenerative disorder. Jefferson’s scientists contributed genome-sequencing data from several families with familial Parkinson’s that confirmed the findings about the mutation. We are excited to be a part of these international collaborations dedicated to discoveries that lead to new knowledge, improved therapies and healthier lives.

As healthcare moves forward and evolves, Jefferson is dedicated to leading the change with solid science and nimble, future-facing innovation. Last spring, we launched the Center for Medical Cannabis Education & Research (CMCER) also within the IEHP, to fill the gap of academic leadership opened up by the rapid expansion of medical marijuana. No other U.S. health sciences university has stepped forward to provide comprehensive and unbiased information and research-network coordination in this controversial field. CMCER will be an authoritative resource that separates hype from science through accredited professional education; reliable guidance for healthcare professionals, policymakers and the lay public; and research that tracks the outcomes of medical cannabis in Pennsylvania.

Jefferson is making tomorrow’s healthcare revolution happen now in all kinds of ways. We were named by the International Data Group as one of the world’s top 100 institutions for operational and strategic excellence in IT. The group singled out our dashboard and app technology in the Emergency Department, which reduced patient wait times, decreased left-without-being-seen rates and boosted patient satisfaction scores. The honor is a testament to how we are using everything in our bag of tricks—in this case communications technology—to deliver care in ways that put our patients and families first.

Always advancing the cutting edge to help the people who need us is deep in the DNA of Jefferson. It’s who we’ve been for 192 years, and it’s who we are today. Jefferson has a different way of looking at healthcare—we’re reimagining health, health education and discovery. We want to be the world’s best healthcare provider. You might say Jefferson is a state of mind—optimistic, innovative, brimming with creativity, maybe a little bit brash. “I think that people who look backwards go backwards,” Bernie Marcus told me. “So why look back? I mean, spend your time looking forward.” The disruption in healthcare that we are leading will outpace incremental policy changes and make an optimistic future for healthcare more possible than it appears to many. At Jefferson, we’re looking forward to it.

Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA 
President and CEO 
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health 

Dispensing with the Smoke and Mirrors
By Charles Pollack, MD

Bursting the Bubble on Spine Infection
By Noreen Hickok, PhD

May 2016 Edition

PET-MR Scan; Pulmonary Fibrosis; AMA Medical Education Innovation Challenge; Kennedy & Jefferson merger; $20M neuroscience institute gift; $500K Stem Cell Center donation; Edith Mitchell named Blue Ribbon Panel member; 1889 Foundation

Dr. Klasko at Abington

In one of my letters last year, I cited Buckminster Fuller’s forward-thinking quip, “The best way to predict the future is to design it.” His point isn’t to foretell what’s coming so we can be ready to react when it arrives but to make the future happen—to think about what’s needed and then design it. That’s what we’re doing—in all kinds of ways—here at Jefferson. Healthcare is being turned inside out, which means it’s ripe for disruption. We believe change is a wonderful thing, and we’re using it to design better ways for our patients to experience healthcare, for our researchers to carry out high-impact science, and for our students to learn and thus become the new face of healthcare for the 21st century. 

The American Medical Association understands that medical schools must prepare physicians who can not only navigate a shifting healthcare environment but can lead the change. That’s why they issued the Medical Education Innovation Challenge, asking students, “How would you turn MedEd on its head?” Four second-year students from Sidney Kimmel Medical College took up the challenge and won second place in the competition, which received nearly 150 submissions. Their idea for medical education was completely different and pure Jefferson, especially the notion that medicine should be fun. They proposed a course of study that encourages creativity by fostering conditions where students recognize problems, and devise and prototype solutions through interactive, hands-on workshops. Their idealized curriculum consists of an on-campus makerspace where students use technologies like 3D printing and do-it-yourself electronics to bring innovative ideas to life. Their Medical Maker innovation would train students in entrepreneurial mindsets that empower them to co-create and co-design healthcare solutions with patients, doctors, nurses and other care providers. The winning students are enrolled in our College Within the College design track (CwiC-Design), a first-in-the-nation program that teaches future physicians to use design thinking to solve healthcare challenges. Their experiences at Jefferson were, no doubt, an inspiration for this design curriculum that encourages out-of-the-box thinking. Perhaps most importantly, their proposal doesn’t lament a vanishing healthcare past but is optimistic about reinventing a patient-friendly, patient-designed healthcare future.

I’ve enclosed an interview that I, along with Dr. Bon Ku, director of our CwiC-Design program, did with Knowledge@Wharton. We talk about the need to redesign how medical schools train doctors in order to innovate in healthcare. Dr. Ku makes the point that design thinking “affords an opportunity to [ask], ‘How can we change the system?’ and it creates that optimism that we can pivot the needle in healthcare.” That’s the vision behind the Letter of Intent we signed for a merger with Philadelphia University. One of the media outlets referred to the announcement as “a shocker.” They couldn’t understand why a healthcare university would partner with “a design, engineering and fashion school” because they’re used to thinking about the future in terms of the past. I believe that what we see as surprising today will become routine tomorrow. Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University are designing a new way forward: a comprehensive university that disrupts conventional notions of education by merging ways of thinking that leap across disciplinary boundaries and jump outside professional boxes. Our PhilaU merger is designed to prepare tomorrow’s professionals to think like entrepreneurs rather than follow by rote or prescribed pathways based on past practice and received wisdom. What our educational innovation looks like will emerge over several years of thoughtful planning, redesign and more than a little invention.

Jefferson continues searching for the right partners to help us deliver the right care at the right time to the right place. Earlier this year, we signed a Letter of Intent to partner with Kennedy Health System. We’ve already signed merger agreements with Abington Health in Montgomery County and Aria Health in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County. Our unique hub-and-hub model is a true partnership in which each partner is strengthened by collaboration but retains its distinct character and connection to the community. Kennedy will be our Southern New Jersey hub. For us, being bigger isn’t a matter of expanding facilities in Center City Philadelphia but of bringing Jefferson’s advanced academic-medical-center care to patients where they live. It’s not about hospitals; it’s about the care and caring we give, and together we can be better healthcare providers and innovators in the communities we serve. Our friends at Abington Hospital recently demonstrated how to use technology to make the patient experience better by installing 34 cameras in their Andrew Tesauro Special Care Nursery. It’s a patient-centered improvisation that lets parents and families keep their baby close and their bond tight even when they are apart.

One of the ways we’re redesigning Jefferson to accelerate discovery is by shifting from SOFTIs, department-based Silos Of Full-Time Individuals, to CRISPs, Clinical and Research Integrated Strategic Programs. CRISPs unite clinicians, basic scientists and clinical researchers in collaborations around a specific disease or field of research. This integrative approach is smarter than the traditional, one-dimensional model of scientists working within the old disciplinary silos. Using bench-to-bedside-and-back-to-bench collaborations across disciplines, across clinical and research enterprises, and across Jefferson’s campus generate not a single discovery but a continuum of medical advances. The Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience—an alliance of exceptional neuroscientists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists dedicated to translating science into breakthrough treatments for brain disorders—is our first CRISP. Longtime benefactors and healthcare visionaries Vickie and Jack Farber recently made a transformational $20 million gift to accelerate translation of research at Jefferson into new treatments and minimally invasive neurosurgical procedures for neurodegenerative and other devastating disorders. Jefferson benefactor Kimberly Strauss recently gave $500,000 to support the creation of a new Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Neuroscience at the Farber Institute. (In recognition of the gift, the lobby of Jefferson’s Health Professions Building was dedicated in honor of her father, Robert Perry Strauss.) Stem cells carry a person’s unique ensemble of neurodegenerative and other genes, which means they are ideal tools for conducting research and developing remedies for the individual from whom they were taken. The Center is part of a revolution that enables researchers and clinicians to personalize the way we study and treat diseases. For three decades, Vickie and Jack Farber have been inspiring Jefferson to reimagine how we research and care for neurological conditions. Their philanthropic partnership and generous gifts like those from Kimberly Strauss help Jefferson to usher in a new era of hope for treatments and preventative therapies—maybe even cures—for ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other life-robbing brain diseases.

Another way Jefferson is making healthcare “CRISPer” is by extending our collaborations with other academic medical centers and hospital systems. Our Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center is a founding member of the Precision Medicine Exchange Consortium, a partnership of leading institutions, spearheaded by Foundation Medicine, that are sharing and integrating genomic and clinical-outcomes data. Cancers are diseases of the genome, and understanding them starts with identifying abnormal genes and proteins that confer cancer risk or drive its growth. Detailed genetic and molecular information about a patient’s cancer enables oncologists to customize precisely-targeted, tumor-and-patient-specific treatment strategies. This kind of data-driven healthcare and precision medicine thrives when institutions break down information silos and exchange crucial data. President Obama’s $1 billion National Cancer Moonshot aims to accelerate discovery by breaking down silos, enhancing access to data and facilitating collaborations like the one we are part of in the Precision Medicine Exchange Consortium. Jefferson’s leadership was recognized by the National Cancer Institute, which tapped Dr. Edith Mitchell, professor of medical oncology, for its Blue Ribbon Panel of experts and thought leaders who will inform the scientific direction and goals of the initiative’s National Cancer Advisory Board.

At the opposite end of the healthcare spectrum from molecular science is population health, which looks at the social and environmental contributors to health and wellbeing. Jefferson has designed a collaboration there too. Earlier this year, we announced the establishment of the 1889 Foundation-Jefferson Center for Population Health, which will be situated in Johnstown, Penn. The Center director will hold the Victor Heiser, MD Endowed Professorship, the first population health professorship in the U.S. Dr. Heiser was orphaned by the 1889 Johnstown flood but went on to graduate from Jefferson Medical College and then traveled throughout Asia and the South Pacific improving public health. The partnership between the 1889 Foundation and our College of Population Health will identify socio-economic and cultural factors that affect the health of people living in Cambria and Somerset counties and design social and community policies to improve overall health. Our goal is to impact quality of life for generations to come and to pioneer a national model for how population-health interventions can work in small communities.

Buckminster Fuller called himself an “anticipatory design scientist.” At Jefferson, we’re anticipating the future too—we call it “reimagining”—and we’re designing it with you in mind right here and right now.

Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA 
President and CEO 
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health 


The PET-MR Scan: A Picture That Could Predict Your Future
By Andrew B. Newberg, MD

Pulmonary Fibrosis: The Search for Novel Therapies
By Ross Summer, MD

January 2016 Edition

A Netflix model of healthcare; Brind-Marcus Center of Integrative Medicine; Merger with Aria; New interactive curricula; Integrating with PhilaU; Hacking healthcare


Jefferson has been pushing boundaries, breaking paradigms and inventing better ways of training doctors and healing patients since 1824. Medical firsts are in our DNA — from our 1826 path-breaking acupuncture studies and our first-in-America successful brain tumor removal in 1887 to last fall’s first-in-Pennsylvania use of the Watchman Implant at Abington for patients with atrial fibrillation. We’re not just tinkering with the present or updating the past: we’re reimagining the future of health.

One way Jefferson does that is by moving from what I like to call a Blockbuster to a Netflix model of healthcare delivery. When entrepreneur Reed Hastings tired of racking up Blockbuster late fees, he created Netflix. His online service not only made late fees obsolete, it completely reimagined customers-first movie watching by streaming it directly into homes. Hastings’ innovation jumpstarted a revolution and transformed an industry. At Jefferson, we have the same patients-and-families-first mindset. We know that great healthcare isn’t just about great hospitals; it’s about bringing the right care at the right price to the right place—as close to home as possible. 

Since I came to Jefferson, we’ve invested more than $20 million in telehealth, which brings Jefferson healthcare as close as your laptop or smartphone. Our physicians are offering hours in new locations, and we’ve opened urgent care centers and satellite locations like the Brind-Marcus Center of Integrative Medicine in Villanova. Our aim is to stream standout Jefferson medicine right into communities where people live. The Brind-Marcus Center doesn’t force patients to choose between traditional or alternative medicine but offers the best of each, enabling them to leverage both for the most advanced care. The best integrative medicine blends science, technology and alternative therapies, and raises them to the power of Jefferson. Now patients can access personalized, integrative medicine at a convenient location outside downtown Philadelphia. The Letter of Intent we signed with Aria Health is also about the patient and the community, and our partnership will bring even better healthcare to more people in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County. 

Jefferson is transforming how clinical care is brought to those who need it, and we’re reimagining how learning is delivered too. Our new Interactive Curricula Experience (iCE) meets students where they live — on their mobile devices—delivering user-friendly, interactive coursework directly to iPads. The iCE technology enables our faculty to package and share materials like lectures, slide presentations, interactive quizzes, videos and scholarly articles, and it puts students in control of their learning with resources that allow them to delve deeper or brush up for exams. It’s an awesome application of technology to academics that supports faculty collaboration across our six colleges, sparks student curiosity, and encourages exploration and discovery. We’re also experimenting with surprising ways to disturb and disrupt how Sidney Kimmel Medical College students think about medicine and professional practice with mind-expanding adventures outside the traditional medical curriculum. MEDstudio is our creative workspace where medical students and faculty brainstorm together using design principles to rethink and remake everything from drugs and devices to treatment strategies and protocols. The American Institute of Architects has been impressed by what MEDstudio is doing and invited our research-and-education incubator to be a judge at its 2016 Better Philadelphia Challenge, an international competition that brings students and professionals to our city to take on real-world urban-design problems. Design thinking encourages new ways of perceiving and different ways of interpreting, and it makes our students better listeners and bolder innovators. MEDstudio is our way of starting to shift the paradigm of tomorrow’s healthcare today by changing how we train physicians of the future. 

Our recently signed Letter of Intent to integrate Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University is another way we’re reimagining and reinventing education to deliver what the 21st century needs. Philadelphia University is a model for professional training that infuses a liberal arts education with collaborative, experiential learning. By integrating two financially sound and academically strong universities that have incredible synergies and significant complementary programs, we can create a new model that challenges higher education to deliver great outcomes for students, employers, patients and our communities. This partnership is precisely what we mean at Jefferson by Forward-Thinking Education: we are evolving a unique comprehensive university that takes traditional arts and sciences, adds a transdisciplinary twist, and integrates it with hands-on, real-world interprofessional learning. It’s transformative education—by design—that prepares skilled and knowledgeable professionals to tackle the complex problems of the 21st century. 

We’re provoking even more new ideas and translating them into better healthcare inventions at the Jefferson Accelerator Zone (JAZ), our “command central” for innovation. JAZ sponsors a full spectrum of events and programing to inspire Jefferson’s big thinkers and budding entrepreneurs, and help them fast track fresh ideas — and passion — from concept to reality. Last fall, JAZ hosted the first-ever Independence Blue Cross/Jefferson Health Hack, a fast-pace weekend competition for teams of imaginative students, clinicians, researchers and other dreamer or techie enthusiasts to work together on solving a healthcare problem. The hackathon focused on three tracks: Drone-Based Healthcare Delivery, Reducing Hospital Readmissions and Wearables, devices that monitor and improve understanding of health. Solutions ranged from cool to crazy, but eight winners were awarded prize packages to help them grow their proposals into businesses. Health Hack channeled all the grit and determination that goes into healthcare transformation: Be open. Be inspired. Dream big. Fail fast and pivot to something new. 

We recently appointed Rose Ritts, MS, PhD as Jefferson’s Big-Dreamer-in-Chief. Rose is our new Executive Vice President of Innovation. She comes to Jefferson after nine years at Duke University, where she was Executive Director for the Office of Licensing and Ventures. Under her leadership, Duke had one of the most successful technology transfer offices in the country. Rose brings a creative mind and a knack for building strategic partnerships, and she’s sure to lead the way to a thriving culture of entrepreneurship at Jefferson. 

One of the things that Rose and I share — in spite of what many say about the future of healthcare —  is a sense of optimism. The one thing we know is that optimistic revolutions start with great ideas. What we need is a way to share our ideas, successes and transformative failures, which surely teach more than successes do. That’s why I’ve agreed to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the online, open access journal Healthcare Transformation. The journal debuted in December. It presents bold visions for the future of healthcare, debates current business models, showcases opportunities for optimal healthcare delivery and so much more. My opening editorial asks, How come everything we take for granted in all other parts of our lives still elude us in healthcare? Healthcare Transformation will explore the answers and no doubt will suggest some good solutions—and offer plenty of ideas to argue over. I invite you to tell me what you think about the journal or to submit your own ideas to be published in an upcoming issue. 

My favorite inventor and visionary, Buckminster Fuller, contends that “people should think things out fresh and not just accept conventional terms and the conventional way of doing things.” Jefferson has never been a slave to convention. Our rich history of thought leadership, clinical innovation and medical discovery position us as a leader today and a pioneer of breakthroughs tomorrow. We’re as optimistic about our future as we are proud of our past. Healthcare is undergoing profound and rapid change. Jefferson is not running to keep up: we’re leading the transformation, reimagining what will be obvious to everyone in 10 years—and doing it now. 

Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA 
President and CEO 
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health 


Health Is More Than Just the Absence of Disease 
By Katherine Sherif, MD, FACP, Professor and Director of Jefferson Women’s Primary Care, and Vice Chair, Department of Medicine 

How Jefferson is Charting the Future of Organ Donation and Transplantation 
By Cataldo Doria, MD, PhD, FACS, the Nicoletti Family Professor of Transplant Surgery and Director of the Jefferson Transplant Institute

October 2015 Edition

Where Einstein, Jobs and Yoda Join Strategy Sessions; Big Data for Better Health; Jefferson and IBC collaboration on healthcare innovation; Jefferson's Edith Mitchell named president of National Medical Association

Klasko Quote

In an August interview with The New York Times that explored my workspace, I commented on how my sleek, modern glass desk stands out in the dark wood and marble of the Old Federal Reserve Building, where my office is: "I like to think the contrast reflects the need to look backward from the future to manage the present more creatively."

What Jefferson has done over the last 190 years may or may not help us to survive the next 10. Shaping the future of healthcare doesn’t mean doing what we’ve always done: it means reimagining a new model and building it right now. Dell computer founder, Michael Dell, told the class of 2003 at the University of Texas: “As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away the store-bought map and draw your own.” That’s the uncharted journey we’ve undertaken at Jefferson, and some of the contours and milestones that mark our way are starting to come into view

Our new Institute of Emerging Health Professions (IEHP) is a case in point. The Institute will identify careers and career-track adjustments needed for rising health professions and, drawing on the resources of Jefferson’s colleges, train professionals to carry out the tasks and roles needed by an evolving healthcare system. We envision path-breaking curricula like medical coder training, new residency and fellowship training for physicians, credential tracks such as genetic counseling for nurses, competency extensions for administrators, and training such as community healthcare worker for laypersons. Dr. Charles Pollack, our new Associate Provost for Innovation in Education and IEHP director, is energetic and passionate. He has a keen eye for the entrepreneurial side of medicine and is eager to adopt new ways of preparing future professionals who will carry out its operations and lead its transformation. The Institute of Emerging Health Professions will be an incubator for degree or subspecialty tracks and a certificate grantor for other tracks, and it will reinforce Jefferson’s reputation as a leader in healthcare delivery, health education and business innovation. IEHP stands at the juncture of medicine and entrepreneurship; it’s a window as well as a doorway into the future of healthcare.

New advances in medical science and technology, and new ways of delivering healthcare are changing the way physicians and healthcare professionals do their jobs. Something like half of what doctors do now – what medical schools are teaching – they won’t be doing in 20 years. Leading medical schools across the country are wondering what change like this should mean for training the physicians of tomorrow. At Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College, our faculty, students and staff have been working hard to create a new 21st century curriculum – named JeffMD by our students – that will launch in fall 2017. The design is uniquely Jefferson with a commitment to imparting basic scientific knowledge, instilling superb clinical skills and nurturing empathy. Early clinical exposure, integration of the humanities throughout medical education and attention to the complexities of patients’ lives will reinforce the Jefferson values of holistic, patient-centered care. More teaching and learning will take place in small groups that emphasize reflection and continuous assessment as well as problem-solving and team-building, while a research project will hone investigative skills. We will measure student progress by competency rather than “seat time” and exam grades. We will also encourage students to declare a specialty early and then provide career-specific training, which will produce graduates with advanced competencies in their chosen fields. The JeffMD curriculum is our way of preparing Jefferson physicians of the future with state-of-the-art knowledge and skills, and state-of-the-heart compassion.

Jefferson and Independence Blue Cross (IBC) have jointly invested $2 million to establish the Independence Blue Cross-Jefferson Health Collaboration. The idea is to drive discovery and invention around better care for patients, communities and populations, especially in our region. The partnership brings together resources from IBC’s Center for Health Care Innovation and the Jefferson Accelerator Zone, ground zero on our campus for testing new ideas and moving them forward. The initiative includes an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Jefferson for clinicians and researchers looking to advance promising discoveries, a business and entrepreneur speaker series for students and faculty, and a “hackathon” where people work together intensely to “hack” usable solutions for healthcare problems such as hospital readmissions, wearable devices and more. Our payer-provider collaboration is itself something completely different: in a time when conventional approaches and old limitations are breaking down, we are partnering to foster the best ideas, to boost innovation and to design new ways to keep people healthy. 

One of the big ideas for making healthcare smarter is using big data, the revolutionary methodology portrayed in the baseball movie Moneyball. Just as the resurgence of the Oakland A’s was engineered by data analysis to identify players overlooked by conventional scouting and coaching, we can use data-driven insights to reduce uncertainty in medicine and support evidence-based decision making. Our Center for Healthcare Entrepreneurship and Scientific Solutions (CHESS) enables Jefferson to capture, analyze and understand huge quantities of information collected from our patients and from larger populations and datasets. CHESS is already parsing readmissions data to uncover the hard-to-discern factors—hidden in piles of information—that contribute to bringing discharged patients back into the hospital. These and other findings will give us a more complete picture of how we are delivering healthcare, show us where the gaps are and help us formulate interventions to close the gaps through better care or education. With this powerful, big-data approach, Jefferson can use information technology, analytics and population health to model and predict—hence improve—health outcomes for whole populations as well as individual patients. 

Statistics indicate that certain ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups suffer a greater burden of cancer incidence and death than the larger population. Jefferson physician and faculty member Dr. Edith Mitchell, director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, works hard to understand and abolish healthcare inequity. She is a leader of international standing, widely recognized for her research, teaching and commitment to making a difference in community health, especially to low-income populations that suffer the adverse health consequences of little or no access to healthcare. Dr. Mitchell has stated that “the first step in the elimination of these disparities is to raise awareness through public and professional education.” She was recently elected president of the National Medical Association, the nation’s largest and oldest organization representing African American physicians and their patients, and a leading force for equality and justice in medicine and the elimination of disparities in health. That leadership position will give Dr. Mitchell an influential pulpit from which to continue championing greater fairness and inclusion in healthcare, which means better health for us all. 


The old store-bought map many institutions are using to find their way to the future of healthcare is obsolete. Many of the roads and bridges are crumbling now or gone, or they just don’t go there anymore. Jefferson is drawing a new map, charting a new route for others to follow. Or, maybe better, we’re reimagining a different future and building it right here and right now at Jefferson. 

Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA 
President and CEO 
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health


Better Treatments for Barrett's Esophagus
By Anthony Infantolino, MD, AGAF, FACG, FACP, leader of the Jefferson Barrett’s Esophagus Treatment Center 

A Sound Treatment for Carpal Tunnel
By Levon Nazarian, MD, Professor of Radiology and head of the Jefferson Center for Diagnostic and Interventional Musculoskeletal Ultrasound

June 2015 Edition

Merger of Equals; Affiliation with Inspira Health; Transatlantic Partnership to Train Doctors; Out-of-the-box medical education; JeffHOPE recognized by Philadelphia Business Journal

Abington and Jefferson

Jefferson connects. In everything we do, Jefferson is making connections with people and organizations--across Philadelphia, around the globe and down through generations of alumni. We connect with patients and families; students and scientists, professors and practitioners; trailblazers, trendsetters and thought leaders. We are forming partnerships with academic institutions and health systems; established businesses and start-ups; government agencies, foundations and neighborhood groups. Who we are is linked to yesterday's achievements, and the connections we make today are transforming the healthcare of tomorrow.

Partnering with health systems enables Jefferson — and our partners — to secure a healthier future for our institutions and, more importantly, for the communities we serve. That’s why Jefferson merged with Abington Health, and that’s why we’ve recently affiliated with Inspira Health Network. We’ve formally merged with Abington to create a new enterprise under our Clinical Pillar that will be called Jefferson Health. What brings us together is what sets us apart: a premier health sciences university and strong health systems that are even better together. The alliance with Inspira links their community physicians with Jefferson specialists, giving patients in South Jersey a vital connection to cutting-edge healthcare typically offered only at academic medical centers across the river in Philadelphia. The affiliation provides for collaboration in three clinical programs — cancer, neurosciences and gastroenterology — and will give Inspira physicians access to the latest developments in research, technology and treatment options, including clinical trials. It’s the best of both worlds: frontline university expertise with hometown care.


Our Blueprint for Strategic Action opens several pathways for connecting, and our new transatlantic venture with St. George’s, University of London, goes down two of them: Programs of Global Distinction and Forward-Thinking Education. St. George’s is the only university in the U.K. dedicated to health and medical sciences education and research. In other words, health is all they do. Starting in 2016, advanced students in St. George’s International Medicine programs will travel to Sidney Kimmel Medical College for two years of clinical rotations. A jointly developed curriculum will teach clinical practice with an eye to challenges of healthcare delivery on both sides of the Atlantic. Our two institutions are also working out a joint degree program that combines St. George’s Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree (MBBS is equivalent to MD) with a master’s degree from the Jefferson School of Population Health. The academic partnership is a way of getting medical students — theirs and ours — thinking about world-wide health issues and preparing them for 21st-century global-health challenges.


Closer to home is a partnership with Princeton University that invites sophomores in design-related majors like architecture and engineering to apply for early admission to Sidney Kimmel Medical College. The initiative is called IDeA, Innovation & Design Application, and it’s aim is to recruit a different kind of medical student to train a different kind of doctor: technically skilled but also empathetic, communicative and creative. Reducing the pre-med workload, waiving MCATs and providing early acceptance, frees IDeA applicants to fully engage their fields of study and then bring the distinctive viewpoints and insights they develop into medicine. When they come to our campus, we will encourage them to pursue studies in our College within the College (CwiC) - Design, a co-curricular initiative that embraces design thinking to help medical students come up with innovative human solutions to healthcare problems. The IDeA partnership and CwiC-Design — a combination of holistic admission criteria, curricular innovation and creative partnership — are our way of starting to shift the paradigm of healthcare now by tweaking the DNA of future physicians.


As part of their 2015 Corporate Giving Awards, the Philadelphia Business Journal recently honored our student-run organization JeffHOPE for “Longstanding Partnerships.” JeffHOPE—Health, Opportunities, Prevention, Education—started in 1991 when a group of our medical students reached out to offer care to homeless Philadelphians. Today, it’s the largest student-run clinic in the country, with students from all of our schools serving more than 72,000 people at six sites across the city. JeffHOPE deepens our ties to the community by giving healthcare access to our most vulnerable neighbors.


JeffConnect is the official name, chosen by our employees last fall, for telehealth services that will deliver the right level of Jefferson care anytime and anywhere to anyone who needs it. We believe giving patients better access to their physicians can only be a good thing. Dr. Judd Hollander, Associate Dean for Strategic Health Initiatives, calls it Jefferson “medicine without walls,” and we are already piloting communication technologies for delivering patient-centered healthcare. For example, in my last letter I told you about Virtual Rounds, which use iPads to bring families into the hospital rooms of loved ones so they can be “present” for doctor visits. In a recent case, a woman from California was suddenly taken ill while visiting Philadelphia and admitted to Jefferson. Her daughter was relieved to “meet” and speak with her doctor. The first thing she said to her mom was, “You look so much better than I thought you would’ve.” Together, they learned about follow-up care that would be needed at home. We are piloting Remote Second Opinions and Remote Consults, which give patients and physicians at other locations access to Jefferson specialists. We are also developing On-Demand Virtual Care for digitized consultations with and assessments by Jefferson Emergency Physicians, and we’re pioneering a National Academic Center for Telehealth that will train practitioners how to use telehealth technologies and measure its effectiveness.


To paraphrase one of my favorite Steve Jobs quotes: We want to look at what healthcare will be 10 years from now, and create it today. JeffConnect is our direct line to the future of healthcare and so are the connections we are making in all kinds of ways to all kinds of partners. Our commencement ceremonies in May celebrated another way that Jefferson connects. While The Jefferson Processional played, lines of graduates from all of our schools processed out into the world as newly minted doctors, nurses, scientists and healthcare professionals. It was an occasion of tremendous pride and great joy for the class of 2015 and their families. Healthcare in our country is changing fast, and I am confident that our graduates are well prepared to lead the transformation. The line of Jefferson alumni reaches deep into our society and stretches back through generations. Nearly two centuries of training Jefferson health practitioners and healthcare transformers is one of our deepest and most impactful connections — and it’s the source of our pride and joy.


Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA 
President and CEO 
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health


Quality Colonoscopy
By David M. Kastenberg, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Jefferson and Co-Director of the Celiac Center 


Jefferson Offers Something New for Sleep Apnea
By Karl Doghramji, MD, professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Medicine in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Jefferson and Maurits S. Boon, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology and co-director of the Voice and Swallowing Center at Jefferson

March 2015 Edition

Juicing Up JEFF; The Jefferson Accelerator Zone (JAZ); Abington and Jefferson sign merger; Jefferson Station; Kimmel and Marcus make transformational gifts

Sidney Kimmel Medical College

The great inventor and visionary R. Buckminster Fuller once remarked, "The best way to predict the future is to design it." That's what we are doing at Jefferson. Medical firsts are in our DNA. That heritage of innovation makes us leaders of healthcare today and positions us to be pioneers tomorrow. We are not just straining to see over the horizon, we are reimagining what's there and then taking steps to create a new kind of healthcare, a better way to educate tomorrow's healthcare professionals and a more effective way of using science to bring the best ideas to people who need them.  

I invite you to follow us on our journey as a Jefferson Ambassador. As we move forward, I will communicate regularly with you, giving you the inside story, providing updates on developments at Jefferson and sharing my thoughts on the future of health care. I believe you will be amazed.The Philadelphia Inquirer noticed that something exciting is happening here and published a story, “Juicing up Jeff,” last fall.


Jefferson has a brilliant 190-year history. But as great as we are — as great as we’ve been — what we know is that if we keep doing everything the same way, our future isn’t going to be as bright as our past. Health care is changing fast. Nobody knows for sure where it is going and what it will become. When I came here as president and CEO in September 2013, I promised that in five years, Jefferson would not look like it did then. We are already delivering on that promise.


Soon after I arrived, we began seeking input on the future of Jefferson from physicians and patients, alumni and students, faculty and staff, and our neighbors in Philadelphia and beyond. Based on what nearly 1,800 people told us, we created the Blueprint for Strategic Action, enclosed here. Our new plan reimagines health care, health education and discovery to create unparalleled value. One of the first strategic themes of the Blueprint is “One Jefferson”: the realignment of our clinical, educational and research undertakings to accelerate innovation.


The traditional pillars that have upheld academic health centers — the academic pillar of teaching and research, and the clinical pillar of patient care — are straining under the weight of rapid change. The old math — NIH funding for research, clinical reimbursements and tuition — no longer adds up. Going forward, a new math will help shore up Jefferson by adding two more pillars: innovation and philanthropy.


Jefferson has always been an institution of innovators. As an academically-based health center, we can drive new ideas and translate them into products, strategies and ventures that help patients and consumers while providing a stream of revenue for Jefferson. We plan to harness our inventiveness in the Jefferson Accelerator Zone (JAZ). Located on 10th Street, JAZ will provide a space and programming where Jefferson students and researchers mix it up with investors, big pharma, universities and other partners to create and launch ventures in bio tech, medical technology and health IT.


We are already innovating to transform health care with communication technology. Jefferson Expert Teleconsulting, which brings our neurologists and neurosurgeons into the room with stroke patients and doctors at hospitals in the Jefferson Neuroscience Network, has proven effective and lifesaving. In the near future, we will add other critical-care telehealth services to help our community hospital partners care for their sickest patients. We now offer “virtual rounds” that enable families at home to use smart phones and computers to interact with medical teams when they visit loved ones in hospital rooms. Through a partnership with American Well, we will be making video-conference visits with patients at home. Soon, anyone will be able to click on a Jefferson app to access our medical services. Eventually, we will create a “virtual emergency room,” where Jefferson doctors provide care without walls to patients across the U.S.


We have also embraced philanthropy as a way of engaging the community. Philanthropy allows anyone to partner with us in any of our research, clinical and educational dimensions. Jefferson is going to be the kind of place that people want to invest in, not because of our distinguished history, but because of our vision and optimism and energy, which enable us to continue making history. It’s already happening. Last summer, the Sidney Kimmel Foundation gave $110 million to Jefferson — largely unrestricted — to name the Sidney Kimmel Medical CollegeThe Marcus Foundation has invested generously to establish Marcus Integrative Health at the Myrna Brind Center – Villanova. We are quickly becoming the place where people can see the future of health care transformed, and they want to be a part of it.


When thinking about the future of health care, I like to channel Steve Jobs, who advises us to look at what health care will be 10 years from now—and create it today. One of the ways we are doing that is by merging with Abington Health to form a new enterprise. Jefferson and Abington are strong, thriving institutions, and we share a common philosophy and culture. It’s a chance to do something bold and different together that offers our patients, students and communities even greater value while preparing us for a brighter and more innovative future in health care, health-sciences education and research. The move is getting attention and putting us on the map.


Last fall, the major SEPTA transit hub Market East in Philadelphia was renamed Jefferson Station. The new name literally puts us on the map—Jefferson Station is on SEPTA’s regional rail maps — and sends a powerful message that we are committed to putting quality health care within reach of everyone. In November, we started running the Jefferson Patient and Visitor Shuttle from the Station to our center-city buildings


We are combining our 190-year old traditions and values with a start-up mentality to create a future-thinking, entrepreneurial-academic, health-care enterprise. I invite you to send me your thoughts on how we might build the brightest future for Jefferson and for our community by emailing Visit our website at Visit our campus. Tell our story. Get involved. I hope you will be a Jefferson Ambassador, telling everyone about how we are changing the face of health care today and transforming what it will be tomorrow.


Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA 
President and CEO 
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

The Dining Room Conversation
By Susan M. Parks, MD, director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine & Palliative Care and an associate professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at Jefferson 

Jefferson Neurologist George Brainard Wins Prestigious NASA Innovation Award 
George Brainard, PhD, professor in the Department of Neurology and director of the Light Therapy Program at Jefferson