(HARTFORD, Conn.) - Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine have signed a memorandum of understanding to formally launch the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care Innovation (CIPCI).

The Institute, a collaborative enterprise between Saint Francis and UConn, is one of the UConn Health Network initiatives adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. M. Jodi Rell in June.

Governance will be shared equally by Saint Francis and UConn. The Institute will be based at Saint Francis and has four major aims: improving primary care education for medical students and residents, increasing retention of primary care trainees and physicians, conducting groundbreaking research on of the best ways to deliver primary care, and providing service to the community of practicing primary care physicians by helping them keep pace with change.

"It is appropriate that we are beginning the work of this Institute during National Primary Care Week because primary care is emerging as the key to progressive new models of healthcare," noted Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the UConn School of Medicine.

"The Institute will be a resource for the region and the state, and can become a national and international model for training and retaining pri mary care physicians as well as improving patient care through applied research," said Christopher M. Dadlez, Saint Francis' President and Chief Executive Officer.

Adam Silverman, M.D., Chief of General Internal Medicine at UConn, explained that transitions in care between primary care providers, other specialists, and hospitals will be a key aspect of training and research. "The idea is to help medical students and residents experience primary care medicine in a way that prepares them for future practice as generalists."

A national search will be conducted for a Director of the Institute. In addition, section leaders will be recruited to focus on education, research, informatics, and outreach. An advisory board, composed of primary care physicians, specialists, academicians, and other community leaders will be formed to provide interdisciplinary and diverse perspectives to guide the Institute's initiatives. A national primary care policy council, made up of representatives from large employers, insurers, foundations, and academia will be established to provide national perspectives on relevant issues and help the Institute remain in the forefront of the field.

"Combining education, research, and service to practicing primary care physicians will help shape the practice of medicine during this period of dynamic change in healthcare." said Gregory Makoul, Ph.D., Saint Francis' Senior Vice President for Innovation and Chief Academic Officer, and a Professor of Medicine at UConn. "While the Institute will not deliver healthcare services, our ultimate focus is on helping patients," notes Dr. Makoul.

The University of Connecticut Health Center includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Founded in 1961, the Health Center pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about the UConn Health Center is available at

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Founded in 1897, Saint Francis is a major teaching hospital licensed for 617 acute inpatient beds and 65 bassinets. It is the largest Catholic hospital in New England.