headshot of CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder
President Emerita Barbara R. Snyder

From the President: A look forward to the new year—and a reflection on the past

headshot of CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder

To the Case Western Reserve Community:

We start this decade amid significant uncertainty. From recent military escalation in Iran to ongoing effects of climate change, the new year dawns with ample cause for concern.

Yet to me, it offers even greater reason for hope.

Just last week, the American Cancer Society announced the largest-ever annual decline in the country’s cancer mortality rate, a result that builds upon a consistent downward trend that began nearly a quarter-century ago. This landmark result means that about 2.9 million fewer people lost their lives to cancer between 1991 and 2017.

Researchers attributed much of the progress to a decline in mortality rates from lung cancer. Today, Northeast Ohio has an opportunity to reduce those rates even more, thanks to a $2.75 million grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to support a university-community initiative. Led by Monica Webb Hooper, a faculty member who leads the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center’s cancer disparities research office, the project focuses on engaging underserved residents in prevention and early-treatment efforts.

The work exemplifies the imperative of engaging multiple disciplines and perspectives to address a problem whose roots extend beyond basic science—in this case, race and socioeconomic status, which correlate with higher lung cancer mortality.

Race and inequality also dramatically affect issues of justice and education, a topic at the core of Harvard scholar Khalil Gibran Muhammad’s work. As this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation speaker, he will address these and related issues at 12:45 p.m. Friday in the Tinkham Veale University Center.

Faculty like Webb Hooper and Gibran Muhammad represent the best of higher education, where work that saves and improves lives takes place every single day. You can find yet more examples of Case Western Reserve’s extraordinary interdisciplinary efforts in Beyond, the university’s new annual report (case.edu/beyond).

Anant Madabhushi, the leader of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics, is among the faculty featured in this report. His and his team’s pioneering work applying artificial intelligence to medical images has led to 48 patents and $43.8 million in research funding; in the 2018­­­–19 academic year, Prevention magazine named his lung cancer research one its top 10 medical breakthroughs; this year he is among the leaders working with Webb Hooper to address disparities in preventing and treating lung cancer in this community.

I hope you take time to read Madabhushi’s and other stories at case.edu/beyond—they are among the many reasons for optimism in the coming decade.

With best wishes for a wonderful semester.

Barbara R. Snyder