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Purpose propels VUMC’s people

Posted by on Tuesday, January 3, 2023 in Fall 2022, From the Dean .

Jeff Balser
Photo by David Bailey

On Oct. 26, more than 60 of our colleagues and community partners came together in Langford Auditorium to share personal stories about their remarkable work in a vast array of Vanderbilt programs. It was Strategy Share, an annual event hosted by VUMC that showcases the abundant ways we come together as teams with diverse skill sets and broad interests for the purpose of making health care personal.

Being there caused me to pause and think about the countless ways our people are living our mission with purpose, and in doing so will not only impact our patients here but in the broader world. Will it be a new program like Firefly that combines prenatal and postpartum care with treatment for opioid use disorder for women, or an EHR-powered discovery leveraging artificial intelligence that makes diagnosing a rare disease far simpler? Maybe it will be an antibody that quickly gets identified and speeds through the process to get into people’s arms in a pandemic?

These moments of reflection happen routinely, as no matter where I turn on Vanderbilt’s campus there are people who are working with purpose on any number of lifesaving initiatives, from the bench, the bedside or both.

Purpose is at the heart of what we do, including the numerous programs we have in place to bolster the physician-scientist pipeline and provide a solid foundation on which we train the investigators who will further our knowledge and expedite treatments from the lab to the clinic.

Our faculty have been on the front lines of tirelessly championing care for U.S. military veterans exposed to toxins and bravely volunteering to take their surgical skills to Ukraine. The challenges

on the horizon will need purpose and resilience, and Vanderbilt and its community have that in


Whether at home or abroad, purpose is embedded in the soul of not only the people who make up Vanderbilt’s workforce here at home, but thousands who are among our ranks working around the globe.

It’s mission oriented, it’s driven, and it’s caring. We embody those characteristics, and we attract others who do. And it’s why we are laser focused on collaborations that improve health equity and personalized care for those who have been marginalized. Vanderbilt’s narrative is woven with men and women who strive to live and work with purpose.

Join me in examining the purpose that drives the people around us. It’s always there if we’re looking.


Jeff Balser, MD, PhD
President and CEO, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Dean, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine