A chief aim of the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act of 2012, which grew out of a task force report authored by former governor Tom Kean, was to propel Rutgers “from good to great” and to not merely realign medical education in the state but transform it.  

I’m pleased to say that we are on the way to achieving that transformation.

This summer, Rutgers entered into a partnership with the health care provider RWJBarnabas Health to form New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health system. It combines Rutgers’ burgeoning biomedical research, education, and clinical expertise with the clinical care delivery strength of RWJBarnabas Health to provide world-class health care and cutting-edge medical discovery. 

In this partnership, Rutgers is taking the lead on all aspects of medical research and education, and RWJBarnabas Health will lead the clinical enterprise, which will include both organizations’ clinical practice groups. Our faculty and staff remain Rutgers employees, and the university retains control over faculty appointments.

I am incredibly excited about this partnership. We have the potential to change the way people are taken care of, how health care professionals are educated, and how the future of medicine unfolds. And the opportunities it will open for research will be game changing. At Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, for example, which is the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, this partnership will enable us to significantly expand access to the highest-level cancer treatments. 

RWJBarnabas Health will invest $100 million initially in Rutgers’ academic and research initiatives in the health sciences, enabling us to double the research portfolio of our biomedical division, and provide at least $50 million per year in mission support to Rutgers for the next 20 years. These investments will dramatically increase Rutgers’ ability to win federal grants in biomedical fields, develop more effective treatments for cancer and other diseases, make life-changing discoveries, and educate the clinical care providers of tomorrow.

The creation of this new system will help Rutgers recruit world-renowned researchers and clinicians. In fact, we are already hearing from outstanding faculty at other institutions who want to be involved in what we are creating. And within its funding commitment, RWJBarnabas Health will set aside $10 million to retain top medical students trained at Rutgers who establish their clinical practices within the new entity after completing their residencies.

This partnership is an opportunity not only to transform medicine in New Jersey, but also to position Rutgers among the very best public research universities in the nation. This year we jumped more than a dozen places in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for national universities, and I am convinced we will continue to rise as we bring New Jersey a new level of excellence in health care.