Institute of Health Sciences and Technology coming

Institute would include ninth college, research and outreach centers

RIT’s Institute for Health Science and Technology is expected to be operational by next fall.

RIT President Bill Destler has approved the establishment of the Institute of Health Sciences and Technology, effective immediately. Provost Jeremy Haefner made the announcement earlier today.

Richard Doolittle, assistant provost, will lead the development of a transition and implementation plan, while Jim Watters, senior vice president for finance and administration, will initiate a national search for a dean/vice president to head the new institute.

Haefner had led a series of discussions this fall about plans for the proposed institute. He described it as a framework for tapping the strengths and expertise of the RIT–Rochester General Health Systems Alliance. The institute will produce technological solutions to healthcare delivery and position the alliance as a contributing player in the reform of the nation’s healthcare system.

RIT’s hands-on education complements Rochester General Hospital’s applied clinical approach, Haefner says. Combining these approaches gives the alliance the potential to affect healthcare and improve the efficiency of the “smart hospital.”

The institute will channel those areas of expertise through the College of Health Sciences and Technology—becoming RIT’s ninth college. Two additional components of the institute—the Health Science Research Center and the Health Sciences Outreach Center—are designed to meet workforce needs and to apply innovative technologies to healthcare delivery.

The institute is expected to be operational by next fall, with existing programs forming its core. RIT’s degree-granting ability gives it, rather than RGHS, the role as the administering institution.

A vice president/dean will be hired by July 2011 to lead the institute and will report directly to the provost. The new vice president will facilitate interactions with vice presidents and CEOs at other institutions and will, initially, direct the outreach and research centers until those positions are filled.

RIT President Bill Destler and RHGS CEO Mark Clement will co-chair the institute’s advisory board consisting of faculty, physicians, staff, trustees and students.

Funding during the first three years will be channeled into the office of the vice president, faculty and staff positions, and setting up research laboratories. Research and outreach center staffing will follow in the third and fourth year, respectively. Plans for a potential $27 million building on the RIT campus will begin in 2012, with a building completed by 2015.

The institute gives the RIT-RGHS Alliance the opportunity to make a significant impact on healthcare reform in a number of ways, Haefner notes. Graduating students from programs that offset the shortage of healthcare professionals in allied health areas is one clear example. But also central to the institute’s mission is educating the next generation of healthcare professionals with new clinical learning experiences, exposure to translational healthcare research and discovery and evidence-based practices in community health.

Finding “the right fit” has been an important part of creating the institute—a fit between RIT and RGHS and a fit between RIT’s programs, says Haefner.

Existing programs that will likely move to the institute include diagnostic medical sonography, nutrition/dietetics, biomedical sciences/medical technology, clinical chemistry, health systems administration, physician assistant, clinical research management and medical illustration.

Proposed collaborative programs include exercise/rehabilitation science, medical imaging, biomedical sciences, medical information and physician assistant post-grad surgical residency. Future possibilities include public or global health and nursing.

Also housed within the institute, the Health Sciences Research Center will focus on infectious disease and immunology, cancer, cancer vaccines and blood disorders, cardiovascular disease, health systems engineering, biotechnology, bioengineering, imaging science, computing and information science, deaf technologies and medical devices.

The final component of the institute, the Health Science Outreach Center will aid regional workforce development programs by retraining displaced workers in Lean Six-Sigma for healthcare, an approach to streamlining and improving patient-care processes. The center will also partner with regional workforce development agencies and develop and support community health initiatives.

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