Office of the President

Dr. Patrick T. Harker is the 26th president of the University of Delaware. He also serves as professor of business administration in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.

DHSA Symposium
Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children
May 11, 2012

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I thank Kevin Churchwell, Bob Laskowski, Bob Barchi—and everyone at Nemours, Christiana Care, and TJU for their partnership in this Alliance, for their commitment to continue our dialogue on critical issues of health and well-being, and for their efforts to move our collaboration forward.

Power of Collaboration
 “Collaboration” is something of a DHSA by-word. It’s the whole point of the partnership. But our work together isn’t limited to the Alliance. We seem to find all these ways to link up with each other and our other partners, and it’s great.

Two weeks ago, the Delaware Neuroscience Retreat brought together clinicians and researchers from Nemours, DSU, and UD for rapid-fire talks on topics like anxiety disorders, visual attention, language perception, and biomedical device materials. That’s how you get 70 molecular biologists, psychologists, engineers, linguists, and genomic scientists into the same room.

In a bid for more collaboration, the speakers shared the resources they can provide and the resources they need to further their research—access to equipment or expertise or patients. Such a simple concept, but a brilliant one: Ask for what you need.

Two years ago, UD needed Christiana Care’s partnership in our Nurse-Managed Health Center. We needed their infrastructure and physician support. The Center’s a great resource for UD employees—many of whom are more proactive about getting care now that it’s so convenient.

But it’s a much more dynamic model than that. It’s an opportunity for inter-professional education, a platform for patient-oriented research, a vehicle for better health delivery. And it’s an example of our collaborative efforts to innovate in an industry that arguably needs innovation more than any other.

DHSA and the Future of Healthcare
As much as anything, this Alliance is an acknowledgement that health care in this country and around the globe is in the midst of fundamental change. An acknowledgement that we have to cultivate more coordinated care. We have to train professionals at all levels to work effectively in a new medical environment predicated on teams of physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, and others. We have to align professional competencies with population needs. We have to broaden our focus from diagnosing and treating disease to promoting and maintaining wellness. We need to better engage patients in their own care.

This is nothing less than a transformation of health education and health delivery. And if the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of healthcare reform, it’ll be a need knocking urgently at our door. The question of who will provide care to 32 million more Americans—and how—will increasingly be answered by mid-level providers—nurse practitioners and physician assistants, by health coaches and exercise physiologists, physical therapists and behavioral health experts, the very team of health professionals that we have the capacity to build through this Alliance.

There’s no one better positioned to take on the task of innovating workforce training and development than the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance. A lot of us were up at Jefferson last fall for a conference on this very topic, and I’m confident of our leadership here. And I think we all agree that our leadership will only grow with more affiliates brought into the Alliance. I look forward to seeing that happen.

STAR Campus
And I’m excited by what I see as a major UD contribution to this capacity for joint research and training, and coordinated care delivery. That contribution is our Science, Technology, and Advanced Research Campus. That’s the sizable tract of land we bought from the Chrysler Corporation in 2009.

More specifically, our contribution is what we plan to put there. Phase I development of the STAR Campus will center on a biomedical and clinical research and education complex. The Complex will connect UD and our partners with the public we serve every day—connect us through research, training, and treatment. It’ll be 24/7 working, teaching, serving community, with clinics open to the UD community and to the public; with inter-professional education programs; with housing for students completing residencies and preceptorships.

We’ll provide facilities for interdisciplinary institutes and partnerships like this very Alliance. We’ll provide space for biomedical and biotech companies and core laboratories for joint research. The campus will be collaborative by design, a place where health drives our research, our education, our clinical programs, and our a way of life.

Right now, it’s still a vision. But if anyone can turn vision into reality, it’s Kathy Matt. I thank Kathy for her incredible enthusiasm for the project, her big plans. And I thank everyone here.

You’re critical partners in the community we’re creating. You’re instrumental in framing the future of healthcare. I can’t wait to build something incredible with you.

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