Dear colleagues and students,
Please allow me to briefly summarize my first one hundred days in office as the dean of our Faculty of Medicine by introducing activities both already implemented and currently scheduled for execution by faculty management.
Throughout my days of service as a member of the management of the Faculty of Medicine, I have always appreciated our productive cooperation with the academic senate of the Faculty of Medicine and I thus consider the outcome of their vote a great honour as well as a personal commitment, one which I have been striving to fulfil from my very first day in office. Since my appointment as dean on 1 November 2019, we have successfully continued to build on the many achievements of the past faculty leadership headed by Martin Bareš, now Rector of MU. The team of vice-deans has expanded, with Prof. MUDr. Zdeněk Kala, CSc. appointed vice-dean for qualifications development and academic affairs and Assoc. Prof. MUDr. Lubomír Křivan, Ph.D. assuming the position of vice-dean for international affairs and international students. Along with the remaining vice-deans and the entire Dean's Office, they began their intensive work on further faculty development.
With respect to the above mentioned facts, I consider the following four priorities to constitute the key milestones of our common work for this year:
- Complete SIMU and begin teaching
- Increase the number of General Medicine students in accordance with the relevant government programme
- Maintain study quality while reducing study failure rates
- Actively support science and research
The newly established scientific board has begun its work. Three sessions have already been held, with five habilitation and two professor appointment procedures successfully implemented. Regular board sessions are scheduled to take place on a monthly basis. This intensity of individual procedures will facilitate the further strengthening of academic positions, essential for maintaining the high quality of teaching staff and the subsequent accreditation of individual fields and programmes.
Consistent support of science and research must always be a priority. In order to facilitate the successful development of research projects at our faculty, we have revived an internal grant agency project, launched a series of start-up grant processes and initiated a research group support programme. The Dean's Office aims to support such activities as much as possible while also simplifying grant submission procedures thanks to the work of individual project departments.
I am grateful that after many years the Faculty of Medicine has had the privilege in mid-November of last year of awarding an honorary doctorate. Its presentation as well as Sir David Lane's lecture constituted a truly dignified academic event. I am also pleased that two faculty research groups were recognized late last year and presented with the award of the Minister of Health of the Czech Republic for medical research and development for 2019. With over 75 entries and in spite of fierce competition, the top five included two projects successfully implemented at the Faculty of Medicine: a project headed by Prof. MUDr. Marek Svoboda, Ph.D. of the Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute and a project led by Mgr. Pavel Krejčí, Ph.D. of the Department of Biology.
We have continued to administer a performance-based budget, which takes into account both the scope of implemented teaching activities and the scientific and research undertakings carried out at individual units, whose budgets we have managed to stabilize thanks to increased government funding. From my point of view, it is necessary to increase the number of teachers at individual clinics and departments in order to provide adequate teaching services for an increasing number of students enrolled in the General Medicine programme. Funding from the faculty budget will be allocated so as to meet this requirement.
The newly established Office for Quality – which began functioning on 1 January 2020 under the leadership of Mgr. Jana Sedláková – has been tasked with improving study quality and supporting the further development of the academic environment. The office is designed to help us meet challenges we face with respect to the evaluation of science, improve our chances of securing the prestigious HR Award and provide us with an efficient tool for academic employee assessment. It is also tasked with facilitating faculty communicationand thus with reducing the burden placed on individual academic employees including guarantors and clinic and department heads.
In January, three open day events managed to attract over 2,000 applicants for studies to the Faculty of Medicine. These and other similar activities are aimed at fulfilling our primary task for this year, i.e. securing an increased number of newly enrolled General Medicine students in accordance with government-stipulated quotas. In the 2019/2020 academic year, due to significant competition between individual medical faculties in the Czech Republic, we nearly managed to meet the requirements (95 % success rate). Some students in the final phase of their studies failed to enrol. In the upcoming academic year, we will strive to compensate for this deficit while also meeting the required number of students stipulated for 2020/2021.
An initial series of clinical anatomy courses was held in cooperation with the Department of Anatomy of the Faculty of Medicine MU; I consider this an excellent means of furthering the development of our faculty's surgical fields of study. Successful activities included a pelvic anatomy course focusing on rectal surgery, co-organized by the Surgery Clinic of University Hospital Brno and the Faculty of Medicine in early December 2019. Similar joint courses have been held in the past by the Orthopaedic Clinic and the Clinic of Neurosurgery of University Hospital Brno and I believe that other surgical fields will likewise make use of this opportunity to work with the Department of Anatomy of the Faculty of Medicine.
New department heads appointed in early January include Assoc. Prof. MUDr. Vít Weinberger, PhD. at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (University Hospital Brno), MUDr. Zdeněk Dvořák, Ph.D. at the Department of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery (St. Anne's University Hospital) and Assoc. Prof. MUDr. Igor Kiss, Ph.D. at the Comprehensive Cancer Care Department (Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute).
At its January meeting, the academic senate approved my proposal for the formation of two new faculty departments: the Department of Cardiovascular and Transplant Surgery and the Department of Medical Genetics. I am convinced that their establishment will contribute to the development of both undergraduate teaching quality and scientific and research potential.
Intensive construction work on the Simulation Centre (SIMU) of the Faculty of Medicine is ongoing and – in spite of some delays on the part of the contractor – the facility is scheduled to open as planned, i.e. in autumn 2020. With SIMU, the teaching curriculum will undergo a fundamental qualitative transformation. Information campaigns currently targeting the academic community as well as the general public are designed to provide information about the centre's significance and activities.
The faculty has recently established a visual style working group tasked with improving and unifying communication strategies both within and outside the faculty. In collaboration with the reorganized Office for Strategy and Public Relations, it is also dedicated to providing our academic community with information on upcoming projects while also offering assistance to individual clinics and departments with respect to the preparation, promotion and implementation of their own projects.
Our faculty has also been successful in fulfilling its social role. Recent memorable moments include a solemn gathering of the academic community at the Kounic Halls of Residence, organized by the MU Rector’s Office on 15 November 2019 in commemoration of the atrocities, which took place there 80 years ago.
The 100 Litres of Blood THANKS TO MUNI project was a beneficial and admirable undertaking designed to promote regular blood donations, spread awareness and celebrate the centenary of the founding of both our faculty and Masaryk University itself. Thanks to the perseverance of all participants, especially Ing. Sylva Hudcová, the project initiator, and subsequently Bc. Natálie Antalová, chair of the student chamber of the academic senate, a total of 273 litres of life-saving blood donations were collected.
I believe that even the ceremonial Christmas tree lighting, held on 9 December 2019, also brought together both teachers and students. Likewise, the excellent Ball of the Century, organized by the Faculty of Medicine and the Medical Student's Association, was a grand culmination of the celebrations of one hundred years of our faculty.
Personal visits by Finance Minister Alena Schillerová (December 2019) and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Alena Schillerová (January 2020), arranged at the invitation of the Rector of MU, enabled us to present the needs of our faculty along with currently developing projects and specifically the SIMU project.
In late January, faculty management successfully defended the faculty's activities and future development plans during an evaluation interview at the MU Rector’s Office.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all vice-deans, colleagues, Dean's Office employees and, last but not least, to all of our teachers and researchers, for their intensive work and activity which alone enables us to successfully continue the development of our Faculty of Medicine.
I am looking forward to our continued collaboration,