Alliance connects medicine and technology through innovation

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RIT students are now allowed to observe surgeries at Rochester General Hospital as part of class projects. Rochester General physicians and RIT faculty are writing 
research grant proposals to submit to the National Institutes of Health—and both institutions are coordinating plans related to the H1N1 flu.

These are just some examples of collaboration between RIT and Rochester General Health System, an alliance announced in December 2008. 

Since the outset of the alliance, RIT President Bill Destler has emphasized: “Biomedical science is fast becoming a kind of information science in which our expertise can play an important role. This alliance will create opportunities for our students, faculty and staff, as well as the Greater Rochester community.”

RGHS President and CEO Mark Clement already is seeing the health system tapping into RIT’s resources and innovation, building on his organization’s health care services. 

“We strongly believe that this partnership will better serve our patients, enhance student education at RIT and better serve our community,” he says.

A steering committee has identified a strategic consulting firm to lead the two organizations in developing a clear vision, goals and objectives to help produce results. A contract will soon be signed with the consulting firm, which currently provides research, planning and economic analysis to more than 500 leading organizations in health care, higher education, industry, 
government and community development.

“Every alliance of this magnitude is going to be unique,” says Jeremy Haefner, RIT’s provost and senior vice president, and 
co-chair of the steering committee. “By creating a strategic plan, we will have two strong organizations blending cultures in a meaningful way. Working with RGHS presents RIT a living laboratory for our students, faculty and staff.”

Some of the achievements that have occurred to date: 

  • Research dollars have been funneled to RIT and RGHS via the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A portion of the funds will be used to enhance the scientific skills of RIT faculty now working with the Rochester General Research Institute.

  • The establishment of a special phone line for student health referrals. The dedicated phone line will make access easier for students looking for general physicians or specialists. The number is 585-922-7480.

  • Joint vaccine research related to ears, eyes, nose and throat infections.

  • The development of a radio-frequency identification system used to monitor hospital staff for compliance with hand- washing hygiene.

  • The creation of a B.S./M.S. degree 
program in physician assistant studies awaits final approval from New York state. RGHS has agreed to help with 
the start of the program by already 
expanding its participation in the 
on-site, clinical internship-training phase of the curriculum.

  • The development of a physician 
assistant residency training program in surgery, designed for post-graduate physician assistants. 

  • A new course offered to biomedical photographic communications students. The class allows students to get hands-on photography experience in Rochester General operating rooms. 

  • Creation of a new bachelor’s degree program in exercise science. The program is currently under review. 

  • The use of C-Print technology at Rochester General. The medical transcription department at the hospital will train personnel who can be deployed to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.

  • The creation of co-op opportunities for information technology students to 
assist RGHS with technology needs.

A joint Web site now showcases the 
alliance achievements, as well as serves 
as a tool to connect students, faculty and staff from both organizations. For more 
information, visit