Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Clinic partner on new medical education building

Project brings two renowned academic tracks together in one space to capitalize on synergies and advance state-of-the-art teaching and learning

Conceptual rendering of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine building at Cleveland Clinic
The west view of the new medical education building, which will provide unified space for the School of Medicine and Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Conceptual renderings from Foster + Partners of London, courtesy of Cleveland Clinic.

Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic have agreed to collaborate on construction of a new, state-of-the-art medical education building for the two academic tracks of the university’s School of Medicine.

The partnership provides unified space for programs now housed apart—the original medical education offering on the Case Western Reserve campus, and the 11-year-old Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. The new building will be located within an 11-acre parcel bordered by Euclid and Chester Avenues and 93rd and 100th Streets.

The roughly 165,000-square-foot building will cost about $80 million. The Cleveland Clinic is providing the land for the structure and also covering all site preparation expenses. The Clinic also has agreed to match the dollars Case Western Reserve has raised for the project to date, up to $25 million. Finally, the institutions will fundraise jointly for the project, and share costs for its construction and operation. All told, the organizations have secured commitments for the majority of the dollars required, and have made shared outreach to other potential supporters a priority in the months to come.

The architectural firm Foster + Partners of London has been engaged to design the new medical education building. Planning will begin immediately—with site preparation commencing within a few months—all while joint fundraising for the project continues.

Overall, the medical school overall ranks 25th in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Each of the two academic tracks is renowned for innovation and excellence. By bringing them together in an impressive structure, the institutions not only dramatically strengthen both offerings, but also send a powerful visual signal regarding the value of 21st-century medical education in Northeast Ohio.

“Both of these tracks of our medical school have drawn national acclaim for their cutting-edge academic approaches,” Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder said. “This project gives talented faculty and students an opportunity to share space, ideas and insights—and we cannot wait to see the innovations that emerge.”

A conceptual rendering of the overview of the new medical education building
An overview of the new medical education building. Conceptual renderings from Foster + Partners of London, courtesy of Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Toby M. Cosgrove, M.D., said the new building would offer future physicians the ideal setting to prepare for a rapidly changing health care landscape.

“Modern medicine is a technology-dependent science. In order to treat patients effectively, doctors-in-training need to have access to the latest technological advances,” Cosgrove said. “From electronic medical records to robotic surgery, from telemedicine to advanced imaging, medical students need to be prepared to practice medicine of the future.”

The two leaders explained that advancing the medical school—and, in turn, raising its stature—ultimately benefits all of their respective affiliated hospitals, the region’s biomedical industry and, finally, the community at large. The two cited the enormous synergies they have seen realized through current collaborations within the academic health care community. One example is the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center—which includes the university, the Clinic and University Hospitals—one of just 41 centers nationwide to receive the National Cancer Institute’s highest distinction. Meanwhile, the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative, which includes these three institutions as well as MetroHealth Medical Center and the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center, has won more than $128 million in federal grant support over the past six years.

Cosgrove and Snyder added that the building project complements both organizations’ other partnerships. The Clinic’s 2012 plan to open a branch of Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at its South Pointe Hospital, for example, continues on schedule with students set to enroll in 2015. Case Western Reserve’s primary affiliation with University Hospital Case Medical Center also remains in place, as do its cooperative arrangements with the Clinic, University Hospitals Health System, MetroHealth Medical Center and the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center.

While the shared educational space will increase opportunities for students and faculty to interact and learn about each other’s programs, each track will continue to have its own individual identity and offerings. Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine enrolls 32 students annually for a five-year program designed to graduate physician-scientists. One year of the program is devoted to research. The university’s original program enrolls about 165 students each July in a four-year sequence that also includes a major research project.

To date the students from the two groups have interacted for events like commencement, as well as their third- and fourth-year clinical rotations at area hospitals and health care facilities. The proposed building would provide students a single location for the classroom and laboratory learning that takes place primarily during the first two years of medical school. The clinical rotations—where students spend several weeks at a time learning about different specialties—would continue as they have previously.

A map showing the site of the new medical education building
The 11-acre site is located between Chester and Euclid Avenues and 93rd and 100th Streets.

Pamela B. Davis, dean of the School of Medicine and the university’s vice president for medical affairs, said the project also gave both organizations an opportunity to build on shared strengths in multiple areas. The university’s global health programs are known throughout the world, in particular initiatives on infectious diseases in Africa and community health in China. Cleveland Clinic, meanwhile, engages with patients around the globe and is opening a five-story, 360-bed hospital in Abu Dhabi later this year.

“We all recognize how much we have to learn from international colleagues, and they from us,” Davis said. “By pooling our respective expertise and relationships, we can accelerate the significant progress we each have achieved on our own.”

Jim Young, the executive dean of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, also cited the significant possibilities inherent in shared space, from enhancing existing programs in art and medicine to improving coordination for core programs that each track provides. Another curricular option may involve building offerings in health policy and finance, subjects that will become ever more important to physicians as the nation increasingly embraces value-based medicine.

“Pam and I have deep respect for one another and a shared passion for excellence in medical education,” Young said. “I am confident that our existing leading-edge programs will become even more innovative as students and faculty work even more closely together.”

Cosgrove and Snyder also see the project as an opportunity to bolster economic development in the Upper Chester neighborhood and to continue to advance greater Cleveland’s biomedical strengths. The classroom and laboratory space vacated after the new building opens ultimately will be repurposed for research.

With the closing of the Cleveland Clinic’s GuestHouse, currently located on the future construction site, plans are under consideration to build a similar hotel near Cleveland Clinic’s campus for patients and their families. Those details and timing are yet to be finalized.