News » SMHS Decade in Review

SMHS Decade in Review

Another decade has come and gone, and during the past 10 years there have been many highlights at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). 

From the opening of the GW Cancer Center and the launch of the Governor’s Health Sciences Academy at T.C. Williams High School to a big boost in research endeavors and increasing student advocacy, SMHS spent the decade continuing to improve the health of our local, national, and global communities. 

Here are a just handful of highlights from the decade. 

Turning Up the Volume on Research

Over the past 10 years, SMHS leaders have continued to build the school into a preeminent research institution. The depth and breadth of ongoing research has continued to increase as a result of investment from the school and from the university.

In recent years, the school has hired more than 40 research faculty with varying degrees of experience and areas of interest. An influx of talent is critical to shaping the future of research; the new faculty members act as a catalyst for collaboration across disciplines and can lead current faculty researchers into fresh areas of inquiry. Read more.

GW Cancer Center Opens Doors to Care, Research

Years of hard work and dedication toward enhancing GW’s cancer research and care culminated in 2016 with the opening of the GW Cancer Center’s new space in the Science and Engineering Hall. 

The center, established in 2015, has brought together all cancer-related activities under one umbrella and created a premier cancer center to serve the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. Read more. 

Governor’s Academy of Health Sciences at T.C. Williams Educates Future Health Care Workforce

GW offers myriad pipeline programs to help high school students and undergraduates achieve their goals, whether that be in the clinic, classroom, or lab. One of the newest offerings, established in 2018, is the Governor's Health Sciences Academy at T.C. Williams High School.

The prestigious academy helps prepare high school students for targeted careers, raising student aspirations, attracting more students to postsecondary education in preparation for technical careers, and meeting the workforce needs of existing business and industry. Read more. 

DC Center for AIDS Research Established 

In 2015, GW grew its footprint in the area of HIV research after earning a grant from the National Institutes of Health for $7.5 million over five years to fund the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR). 

The consortium includes academic HIV investigators from SMHS, Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW, and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

The mission of the DC CFAR is to expand the multi-institutional effort to support research that contributes to ending the HIV epidemic in Washington, D.C., and beyond in partnership with government and community. Read more.

Focusing in on Clinical Public Health 

At the start of the 2014–15 academic year, incoming MD program students experienced something new: a revised curriculum integrating clinical public health into physician training. 

Education in this area included topical lectures, incorporation of public health into case-based learning, and clinical public health summits.

Just recently a new phase the clinical public health curriculum started with the course series Patients, Populations, and Systems, which will include presentations by local, national, and international leaders in public health, health systems and policy, and community health. Read more.

PA Profession Celebrates 50 Years

Each year, the Physician Assistant (PA) Program at SMHS joins the rest of the country in celebrating PA Week. In 2017, students, faculty, and alumni had the chance to mark the 50th anniversary of the profession.

GW’s PA Program has seen its share of accomplishments in the past five decades, with students dedicating time to advocating for the profession and continually giving back to their community. Read more.

Giving Back to Their Alma Mater 

Every year alumni give back to their alma mater in many different ways, and the past 10 years have been no different. 

One such show of support this decade came from Gordon S. Moshman, MD ’78, who in 2015, along with his wife, Ann, made a gift to fund a Rural Medicine Elective for primary care residents at SMHS in an effort to impart lessons he learned working in rural settings to the next generation of physicians. 
Through their gift, the Moshmans have enabled 10 GW primary care residents to participate in the two-week program so far. Read more.

Advocacy in Action 

SMHS has a long history of activism and advocacy, and over the past 10 years, students have supported HIV/AIDS research, measures for patient outcomes, and efforts to provide greater equity in health care, among other issues — and that is precisely why many SMHS students choose to attend school in the nation’s capital. 

For some, activism means writing letters, signing petitions, and calling representatives; for others, it means organizing, marching, and putting a face on an issue. 

In 2014, for example, MD students held a die-in for White Coats for Black Lives, a movement aiming to eliminate racial discrimination in health care, in front of the Foggy Bottom Metro station. In 2017, physical therapy students participated in the American Physical Therapy Association Federal Advocacy Forum, where they could join others the profession in talking about the issues that patients deal with and how to can be advocates for them. Read more.

IMP Makes a Mark on the World

The 2010s also saw the continuation of GW’s efforts to help patients globally. 

The SMHS Office of International Medicine Programs (IMP) continued its vital work in Haiti, delivering essential medical care and health education information. During the seven-day medical missions over the summer, GW students and physicians see more than 1,000 patients, treating problems as varied as malnutrition and respiratory issues in children to adult diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension.

In addition, in 2019 IMP recognized its 25th anniversary, celebrating more than two decades of making a mark on more than 12,000 GW and international faculty, staff, residents, fellows, and students. Read more.

Akman Steps Down as Dean of SMHS 

For nine of the last 10 years, Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, has led the way at SMHS. But entering a new decade also comes with goodbyes.

After more than four decades at GW as a student, resident, faculty member, and, ultimately, vice president for health affairs at GW and dean, Akman will step aside and make way for his succecessor, Barbara Bass, MD, RESD ’86. 

The legacy he leaves will be one of emphasizing diversity and inclusion, fostering educational innovation and excellence, flattening the tuition curve to make medical education more accessible, and raising the institution’s research portfolio. Read more.