As the year draws to a close, UVa Today will look back at milestones, achievements, trends and big stories of 2011. To share your 2011 thoughts, visit the UVA Today News Blog or send us a tweet @uva using hashtag #uva2011.
December 27, 2011 — The University of Virginia Health System this year extended its dedication to patient care on many levels, from lab bench research breakthroughs to state-of-the-art new facilities and treatments, to patient outreach; from South Africa to Southwest Virginia to a Charlottesville assisted living facility.
The Health System's patient care was recognized in several awards. A list of 67 Health System physicians on the first "Top Doctors" directory issued by U.S. News & World Report included 48 physicians who are considered among the top 1 percent in the nation in their medical specialties and sub-specialties. Five medical specialties at the Health System were ranked among the best in their field in U.S. News & World Report's annual "Best Hospitals" guide.
Kodi S. Ravichandran, Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor of Microbiology, was named as one of four Virginia Outstanding Scientists of 2011.
In April, the Health System opened the new $74 million Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, and in June started work on another new facility – the $141 million Battle Building at U.Va.'s Children's Hospital, scheduled to open in 2014.
The Health System is bringing breakthrough and experimental treatments to the bedside, including successfully treating alcohol-dependent individuals with medication that is tailored specifically to match their genetic profile; a "Call to Health" model, which uses text messages, stress reduction and other techniques to help African-American women manage type 2 diabetes; and an innovative U.Va.-developed monitoring system for premature infants that is saving lives by spotting early signs of infection and other illnesses.
Complementing the wealth of high-tech patient care improvements, volunteer clowns help young (and some older) patients forget their illness or injury for a while. A number of Health System departments partnered with the U.Va. Health Plan and U.Va. Human Resources to create a new Hoo's Well employee wellness program.
This year's medical research milestones included research that promises to more quickly track major infection-causing "superbugs" – a major key in preventing the spread of deadly infections; developing a personalized risk model to recommend how often a woman should have a mammogram; and research on the next generation of molecular diagnostic technologies that promise faster diagnosis and treatment to the millions of children worldwide who suffer from devastating diarrhea and malnutrition.
U.Va. researchers developed the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration-accepted computer-based diabetes simulation tool, and had an artificial pancreas it developed tested successfully in Europe.. Other researchers are working alongside teams from around the world on the human "neurome" project to map the tens of millions of neurons that make up the central nervous system, which will give researchers a clearer view of the function of the brain and a more detailed picture of a multitude of human diseases.
As the first step toward better treatments and protective gear for the increasing number of American soldiers suffering traumatic brain injury caused by bomb blasts, researchers are developing potential improvements in diagnosing traumatic brain injury.
A new online tool developed at the Health System will help paramedics, nurses, emergency physicians and other first responders more rapidly identify the group of toxins causing patients that have been exposed to hazardous chemicals to become sick.
U.Va. and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation teamed to create a $20 million endowment to foster research collaboration between biomedical engineers and clinicians, with the goal of developing new technologies to improve patient care and human health.