Dr. A. Eugene Washington takes the helm as vice chancellor for UCLA Health Sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. IN COMING TO UCLA, I believed the institution was uniquely positioned to build the future of science, medicine and health. I sensed that I was joining a community of extraordinarily talented and dedicated people with an unflinching commitment to excellence. I anticipated a pervasive esprit de corps across the campus that nurtured collaboration and innovation. And I expected that UCLA’s location in Los Angeles, with its size and scope, provided an opportunity to make a substantial impact locally, nationally and globally. Four months into my tenure as Vice Chancellor and Dean, I am not disappointed. Far from it. Today, I am even more confident about the leadership role we in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Health System will play in shaping the future and improving human health. My confidence emanates principally from the great people I have met here – renowned faculty who are provocative educators, brilliant scientists and masterful healers; gifted staff who are exceedingly passionate about their work and phenomenally effective at it; creative students, residents and postdoctoral scholars who are full of anticipation and promise; devoted alumni who are deeply committed to sustaining the vitality of their alma mater; and visionary friends, donors and volunteers who are ineffably supportive and astonishingly generous. Great people are the lifeblood of great institutions. And we are inarguably one of the world’s preeminent health-sciences campuses today precisely because of our exceptional people. By almost any measure one might apply, we have the best and the brightest. Complementing this wealth of human capital is the spirit of collegiality and cooperation I have witnessed among colleagues across multiple disciplines. This ease of collaboration is energizing and reassuring. And it is pivotal. Why? Because innovation and impact in health are increasingly rooted in collaborative ventures, whether in education, healthcare or research. Our rich intellectual substrate and collaborative nature are the reason we are leading the way in pioneering new models of team-based interdisciplinary care, creating novel inter-professional courses and learning experiences, and accelerating the translation of discoveries into treatments and disease prevention. But we must do more. Our location in Los Angeles represents both an opportunity and an obligation. Emerging breakthroughs in medicine offer unprecedented possibilities for improving the health status of the community in which we live. Taking advantage of these opportunities is critical since the need is great and urgent. To succeed – let’s say in improving the health status of Los Angeles in a measurable way by 2020 – will require us to take the lead in bringing diverse constituencies (other academic institutions, businesses, community groups, philanthropic supporters and governments) together to resolve the challenges affecting the health of fellow citizens. Fortunately, the foundation for such an ambitious undertaking has already been firmly established under the steady guidance of my predecessor, Dr. Gerald S. Levey. Now we must, and will, build on this legacy in a meaningful way befitting our school’s inspiring history, worldly stature and tremendous promise. In the years ahead, I look forward to working with all of you in our remarkable UCLA community. Together, we will advance a bold agenda in pursuit of excellence and impact. Together, we will shape the future of medicine – for the benefit of all.