Posted November 9, 2009

Temple celebrates a medical milestone

Three days of festivities herald opening of new med school building

  • Ryan s. Brandenberg/Temple University Medical school faculty, alumni, students and friends gather for the Oct. 30 dedication of the Medical Education and Research Building.
  • Elizabeth Mannning Medical school faculty, alumni, students and friends gather for the Oct. 30 dedication of the Medical Education and Research Building.
  • Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University Medical School alumni Vince and Vance Moss discuss their experiences on humanitarian aid trips to Afghanistan. For their accomplishments, the two were named ABC News’ People of the Year.

Before the ribbon was cut and after the last streamer landed, a series of celebratory events marked the official opening of Temple's new Medical Education and Research Building.

The three days of festivities began with a day devoted to research, as Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman — a world renowned leader in the field of molecular biology and Temple medical school alumna — kicked off a day-long symposia on Thursday. “Insights and Innovations in Biomedical Research” showcased investigators from Temple and around the country, including John Niederhuber, director of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The researchers discussed novel approaches they're using to learn more about AIDS, cancer, nervous system diseases and cardiovascular disease. Faculty and students were also treated to wine and cheese as they presented and perused 235 research studies by Temple researchers on display during poster sessions throughout the program.

On Friday, it was standing-room only as Temple welcomed dignitaries, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, to cut the ribbon on the gleaming $163 million medical complex. Boasting open air research labs, smart classrooms and a virtual learning anatomy lab, the 480,000-square-foot structure is the new home to more than 550 scientists, academics, researchers and staff. The Medical Education and Research Building has four and a half floors dedicated solely to research, with two more to be equipped in the coming months. Attendees toured the 11-floor building, catching up with colleagues and remarking at the awe-inspiring structure, which opened three years after officials broke ground — on time and within budget.

"I have been excited about the School of Medicine each day of my seven-year tenure as dean," said John M. Daly. "This new building offers so many wonderful possibilities to markedly enhance the education of our students; I continue to be excited."

On Saturday, guests returned to the Medical Education and Research Building to celebrate Temple’s commitment to service learning — the notion of taking care of the health needs of the community that is an inseparable part of the Temple mission. The Education and Community Service Showcase opened with hundreds gathering on the first floor to honor volunteer Professor of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine Board of Visitors member and University Trustee Solomon Luo with the dedication of the Solomon Luo Auditorium.

The tributes continued with a scientific program honoring former orthopedic surgery chair and 1943 med school alumnus John Lachman, and others who've made significant contributions to the fields of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. Lachman, who passed away two years ago, has had a lasting impact through his creation of a test used worldwide to diagnose tears of the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. The structure’s third floor auditorium was named in his honor.

Also leaving his mark on the Medical Education and Research Building is anatomy professor and two-time Temple Med alumnus Carson Schneck, who has been teaching first-year medical students for over 40 years. More than 1,000 of Schneck’s students and friends donated more than $1.25 million to name the Schneck Gross Anatomy Laboratory in his honor. Schneck's daughter — and former student — was on hand for a portrait dedication, which will ensure that Schneck can continue to inspire generations of future physicians.

As keynote speakers for the showcase, medical school graduates and current adjunct faculty Vince and Vance Moss shared experiences that have thrust them into the international spotlight. Since graduating in 1998, the twin physicians and Army reservists have carried out three humanitarian aid trips to Afghanistan with their own resources. They described the risks they endured while helping Afghani civilians — particularly women and children. In recognition of their work, ABC News named them the News People of the Year for 2008.

To cap off the weekend, on Saturday night officials honored four alumni with achievement awards during a black-tie banquet at the Westin Hotel Philadelphia. The event provided an important reminder that, although the celebration of the building had ended, the Medical School’s mission endures.

"We have many more things on our agenda to take the energy from last week and harness it to the betterment of the school," said Daly. "We are in the process of recruiting new faculty and leaders to our school. We are expanding our research capabilities and improving the quality of care for our patients. In all of these, the new building has a tremendous impact. I am still excited."