UMMC looks back at 2017 while eyeing the futurePublished on Friday, January 12, 2018By: Karen BascomThe year 2017 marked an extraordinary time for the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s health care, education and research mission. Here’s a look back at some of the biggest news stories of the year at UMMC and how they may impact 2018.Building the futurePatients, donors and staff celebrated the groundbreaking of the new pediatric tower on Dec. 1, 2017.With two large construction projects completed and a third underway on the Medical Center campus, buildings abounded in 2017.Each advanced one of UMMC’s missions.In August, the Medical Center dedicated its new School of Medicine building, which includes dedicated space for classroom and hands-on learning.“A glorious chapter is beginning in the history of education in Mississippi,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We are doing something important, something that future stories will be made of.”In November, the collaboration-oriented Translational Research Center became home to The MIND Research Center, the Neuro Institute and technology transfer offices.“The opening of this building marks the end of a lot of hard work on the part of many people who have been involved in its planning and design and the shepherding of its actual creation,” said Dr. Richard Summers, UMMC associate vice chancellor for research.In December, the Medical Center celebrated the groundbreaking for a new pediatrics tower, a $180 million project that will improve health care for the state’s children. When it opens in 2020, the building will include new intensive care areas, surgical suites and other clinical areas.“This is what the children of Mississippi need,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, UMMC professor and Suzan B. Thames Chair of Pediatrics, “and what the children of Mississippi deserve.”External financial support made each of the projects possible; especially the pediatrics tower, which is partially funded by the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi. The fundraising effort reached the two-thirds mark of its $100 million goal near the end of 2017.Educating the futureUMMC for the fifth year broke its record for degrees conferred to health care and health science professionals.In May, UMMC’s Commencement included a record number of graduates for the fifth consecutive year: 971 students earned degrees from five health sciences schools.“This is only the beginning of your learning process,” Woodward told the graduates. “Our nation will continue to struggle with ways to care for the sick. You can play a role in finding a solution to this struggle.”Within two years, UMMC’s Commencement will include graduates from a sixth school. The John D. Bower School of Population Health opened in August and welcomed its first Ph.D. students in biostatistics and data science.In 2018, the school will enroll additional students in its population health science degree track and a residency in preventive medicine co-administered with the School of Medicine. Caring for the futureFirst-year dental student John Mathis assists Dr. Akilah Stringer, resident, during Dental Mission Week at the School of Dentistry in February.In February, the UMMC School of Dentistry hosted its first Dental Mission Week, which provided free dental care to more than 800 Mississippians in need. Dr. David Felton, dean of the school, said students helped spur the initiative.“My thought was, if we are going to teach our students about service, let's actually provide some service,” Felton said. “I think it's a great addition to the school.”The school plans to repeat and expand the program when it takes place Feb. 5-9, 2018.UMMC surgeons completed a rare organ transplant procedure in April, successfully splitting a donor liver between two women in need.“The overwhelming majority of transplant centers in the United States have not done it at all,” said Dr. Mark Earl, associate professor of surgery. He completed the procedure with Dr. Chris Anderson, professor and chair of surgery.In October, UMMC’s Center for Telehealth earned recognition as a Center of Excellence. The honor gave the program more access to resources that broaden health care access for people in all corners of the state.The designation “sets us apart,” said Michael Adcock, executive director of the center. “We were selected because we have one of the most comprehensive telehealth programs in the country.” Discovering the futureThe success of the ARIC Jackson site - which recruited 3,722 African-Americans - was also a determining factor to create the Jackson Heart Study, the largest study of African-American cardiovascular disease.UMMC’s research mission reached new heights and celebrated milestones for its legacy projects in 2017.According to UMMC’s Office of Research, the Medical Center received a record-high 316 extramural grants and awards valued at more than $65 million.“The fact that there were more grants awarded this current year means that more individual principal investigators with unique projects are being funded,” Summers said.Longstanding research missions continued to thrive in 2017. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study marked 30 years of research on the effects of midlife health into old age.UMMC has large plans for future research. The Medical Center has joined the National Institutes of Health’s “All of Us” initiative that aims to enroll 1 million Americans in an attempt to advance precision medicine. A clinical research collaboration with the world-renowned Mayo Clinic is moving forward.NOTE: This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of CONSULT, UMMC's monthly electronic newsletter. To learn more about Medical Center news past, present and future, and to have more stories like this delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe to CONSULT.