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Pulse - Summer/Fall 2021 Dean’s Message

Charles B. Cairns, MD, Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Dean, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs

Charles B. Cairns, MD
Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Dean
Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs

As we start our new academic year, it is hard to believe that the College of Medicine is entering its third full semester of medical and biomedical graduate education in a pandemic. I continue to be proud of the extraordinary impact of students, trainees, faculty and staff on our community.

In July, we celebrated the grand opening of the College of Medicine at Tower Health, a new four-year regional medical campus in West Reading that is the academic home of 40 members of the MD program class of 2025. The event was attended by stakeholders from the College of Medicine and Tower Health, local and state government officials and community leaders. It was exciting for all of us to tour the state-of-the-art facility, view the beautiful historical wall created from materials housed at Drexel’s Legacy Center: Archives & Special Collections, and picture the incoming students using the common spaces to relax and get to know each other. The event was capped off by a ribbon cutting, with Drexel President John Fry and Tower Health President and CEO P. Sue Perrotty deftly wielding the scissors.

We had 303 first-year medical students, a record number, enroll in the College of Medicine this year. The students in both the Philadelphia and West Reading campuses are settling into their lives as medical students. All of these students were set on the path toward the compassionate practice of medicine at the annual White Coat Ceremony held on August 6. We were thrilled to return to an in-person ceremony this year, and grateful again for everyone’s understanding and cooperation with COVID-19 protocols.

In addition to the medical students, we welcomed new master’s and PhD students into the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies. Whether they are in a pre-health, career-oriented or biomedical science program, we are so pleased to have these talented students among our ranks. We look forward to seeing their future contributions to our community, the Philadelphia community and the ever-growing body of research and scientific knowledge.

We have garnered a record $42 million in research awards over the past year, a 30% increase over the previous year. Importantly, all College of Medicine students will have a chance to share their research accomplishments at Discovery Day, our annual day of research, in October. We are excited for this wonderful showcase of research and innovation. Discovery Day is also an opportunity for fellowship and cross-disciplinary collaboration, as educators and investigators learn about the work happening in other departments and laboratories. In addition, we get a chance to recognize outstanding undergraduate and high school students for their research endeavors. I hope to see all of you on October 21!

I recently marked the two-year anniversary of my arrival at Drexel. What a remarkable two years it has been. We have persevered though the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital, the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice challenges to become a bigger, more productive and impactful College of Medicine. We have opened a new campus in West Reading, with a new educational facility under construction in University City and a new research building in active planning. I do not have the words to thank you — all of you — for your support, your dedication to excellence and your leadership.

I couldn’t be prouder of our work together.

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Pulse is published five times a year for students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the College, highlighting innovations in research, clinical practice and education; key events; and accomplishments. News, professional and academic achievements, calendar items and story ideas may be submitted by email to