David B. Hellmann, M.D., M.A.C.P.

David B. Hellmann,

These days, whenever I am asked to explain why the Center for Innovative Medicine (CIM) believes so strongly in making medicine a better public trust, I just point to the COVID-19 crisis. The three themes of “medicine as a public trust” — caring, science and justice related to health — have been at the heart of our response to this pandemic and are undoubtedly critical to overcoming it. This issue of Breakthrough takes you behind the scenes and reveals the key roles that multiple CIM scholars have played in Johns Hopkins’ response to COVID-19.

You will read how Brian Garibaldi, the Douglas Carroll CIM Scholar, played a critical role in creating ICU protocols for our sickest patients (and provided care for President Donald Trump when he was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center); how CIM Scholar Jessica Colburn mobilized to connect vulnerable older patients in our community with much-needed health information and care; how Antony Rosen, vice dean for research and the Cosner Family CIM Scholar, designed studies to understand the immune response to the virus; and how Panagis Galiatsatos, the Aliki Perroti CIM Scholar, collaborated to develop a curriculum to teach schoolchildren across the country (and around the world) how to minimize their risks of getting or spreading the disease. Thanks to the work of these people and many other standout scientists, physicians, nurses, facility engineers and hospital administrators, I have never been prouder to be at Johns Hopkins and to serve as the director of the CIM.

Few could have predicted the devastation wrought by COVID-19. But there is one health care crisis that all of us know is coming: the health consequences of aging. People over the age of 65 are the most rapidly growing population in the United States and in many other developed countries. The “silver tsunami” is here and will be gathering force for several decades to come. That’s why the CIM has committed so fervently to backing the Johns Hopkins Human Aging Project (HAP), initiated by Jeremy Walston, the Salisbury Family CIM Scholar. In this issue, you will learn that the CIM is pursuing the HAP by building alliances with other talented people and programs from across Johns Hopkins — notably from the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and the School of Nursing. Thanks to generous donors, including Sarah Miller Coulson, Charles Salisbury, Yiannis Alafouzos, and Caryl and George Bernstein, these alliances are being strengthened by the appointment of four new CIM HAP Scholars.

Stuff happens, including pandemics and aging. Pursuing medicine as a public trust ensures that the CIM will be a powerful force for the good that can come from caring, science and justice in health. Thank you for your support, and best wishes to you and yours.


Aliki Perroti Professor of Medicine;
Vice Dean, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center;
Chairman, Department of Medicine