Safyer and Dean Spiegel

Looking to the Future: Conversation with Dean Spiegel and Dr. Safyer

Looking to the Future: A Conversation with Dean Spiegel and Dr. Safyer

The editors of Einstein magazine asked Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., Einstein’s Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, and Steven M. Safyer, M.D. ’82, president and CEO of Montefiore, to talk about the agreement and what it means for Einstein’s future.

Why is the new arrangement between Einstein and Montefiore considered a win for both institutions?

Dean Spiegel: The nation’s healthcare system has changed over the past half century. Competition for research funds is fiercer than ever. Sharp cuts in government funding have worsened the problem by putting tremendous financial pressure on most research-intensive medical schools. Our agreement with Montefiore addresses this harsh economic reality by more closely aligning Einstein with a strong clinical and operational partner as we enter the age of personalized medicine.

Dr. Safyer: During his tenure as dean, Allen has done an exceptional job of reinvigorating Einstein as a center for robust research. The new agreement will allow us to preserve and strengthen this research in significant ways to benefit patients, communities and all humanity.

What comes next?

Dean Spiegel: With the closing of the YU-Montefiore agreement, we will take the Einstein-Montefiore relationship to a new level. Einstein’s research in basic science and translational medicine and Montefiore’s dual mission of clinical research and patient care are already combined—for example, in diabetes, in liver disease and in Rett syndrome. Montefiore has employed Einstein clinical faculty since the early 1990s. Our clinical departments such as pediatrics, urology, ophthalmology, and obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health are headed by a “university chair,” a position that spans both institutions. We’ll continue to knit together our two institutions until we become a single culture.

Dr. Safyer: I hope the phrase “Einstein and Montefiore,” in the sense of two separate entities, will soon be obsolete. There is now a clear path for us to be one organization. The agreement gives Montefiore the authority and responsibility to invest its resources and expertise in Einstein. We’re going to be prudent and strategic, while building on traditions of excellence and success.

Will there be a Board of Trustees?

Dr. Safyer: Einstein will be its own 501c3, which means that it will be its own entity and will have a true Board of Trustees that will reside under the Montefiore umbrella.

Dean Spiegel: The newly reconfigured Board of Trustees will include a significant number of individuals who served as Einstein Overseers. Einstein’s new Board chair, Roger Einiger, will play a pivotal role, as will former chair Ruth Gottesman; both have had an enormously positive influence on shaping Einstein’s future. As chair of the Board’s Finance and Executive Committees for the past several years, Roger has brought a wealth of expertise to College of Medicine financial matters. Ruth is a great leader whose tangible legacies include Einstein’s Stem Cell Institute and Center for Epigenomics, our Clinical Skills Center and the new Education Center—all of which have helped Einstein maintain its reputation as a leading research and educational institution.

Your close working relationship has helped lay the groundwork for this new agreement. Are you optimistic that your successors can keep the relationship healthy?

Dean Spiegel: The new agreement transcends the skills and personalities of individual leaders. I suspect there will be many positive future developments that will build on each other to ensure that the Einstein-Montefiore relationship prospers and thrives for many years to come.

Dr. Safyer: We’ve worked together for nearly a decade to renew and strengthen the close ties that have long existed between Einstein and Montefiore. We share core values, including a deeply held commitment to social justice. Both institutions have historically welcomed people who were turned away elsewhere. As we pursue our mission of improving health in the Bronx and beyond, our combined strength makes for an extraordinary down payment on the future.