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September 14, 2023

Our Superpower

“Why did you choose to join the faculty at UMass Chan?” was the question posed at an event with new colleagues last year. A respected physician-scientist who had worked in Europe and another major U.S. city paused, then shared, “because UMass Chan is allowing me to dream of what is possible.” 

Another new faculty member, fresh out of postdoctoral studies at Harvard, said, “I chose to come to UMass Chan because it is the most collaborative, collegial and welcoming place that I’ve ever done science. You can just tell there’s an incredible energy on this campus.”

It turns out that just like in life, when we tell our children, “It’s not necessarily the words you say, but how you say them,” it is equally true that in a professional setting, it’s not just what we do, but how we do it that can make all the difference. As the chancellor of UMass Chan Medical School for the past 16-plus years, I couldn’t be more proud or grateful that our academic community has held tightly to a unique culture of collaboration that has been a part of this medical school’s ethos since its founding.

We call this deep and abiding commitment to collaboration Advancing Together; it is the common thread that binds our past to the present and that will connect the UMass Chan we know today with the Medical School of tomorrow. Far from an aspirational slogan, advancing together represents our community’s collective values and serves as a guiding principle for our work training the next generation of physicians, scientists and nurses; leading groundbreaking clinical trials; and making our communities healthier. 

The special characteristic reveals itself daily. We see it in the young face of Noa, whose photo sits on a lab bench, inspiring researchers to unlock new discoveries and create novel treatments for her rare disease. We see it in the young new professor whose team made a major discovery about how human metabolism works, and who, within months of establishing her own lab, shares her finding with dozens of other labs across campus, knowing that many great minds are better than one and collaboration is the superpower that accelerates innovation and discovery. 

We see advancing together in our state-of-the-art simulation center, where advanced practice nursing students and medical students train side by side, committed to solving life and death matters as part of an interdisciplinary care team. We see it in our digital health team that partners with patients and industry to develop the next generation of health care. And we see advancing together in our communities, when students teach local inner-city children how to swim and stay safe in the water, or when promising high school students spend their summers on our medical school’s campus, opening their eyes to what it could mean to pursue a career in health care or science. 

At this time of great challenge in health care and higher education, UMass Chan is growing and committed more than ever to serving the commonwealth as the Massachusetts medical school. With more than 1,400 accomplished students in our three graduate schools; 6,000+ employees; 7,400 alumni; regional campuses in Springfield and Burlington; more than 100 clinical affiliates statewide; a VA clinic on our Worcester campus; and a new nine-story research and education building opening in 2024, we are bullish on the future. 

We continue to be ranked a top place to work and perennially are recognized as one of the best in the nation for primary care education. For more than half a century we have developed this culture that has made a difference in the lives of more people than we could ever know. 

And the best part of all is that we are just getting started.

Advancing Together!

Michael F. Collins, MD

Chancellor, UMass Chan Medical School