Friends & Colleagues, 

When Dr. Barbara Atkinson set out in 2015 to help make a long unrealized community dream a reality -- a school dedicated to transforming healthcare in Southern Nevada -- she was the only employee of what came, two years later, to be known to the public as the UNLV School of Medicine. She talked to young and old, rich and poor, everybody, it seems, she could get to listen about what a medical school could mean to Las Vegas both in terms of health and economic development. Dr. Atkinson helped a good many realize that the idea of an academic medical center in Las Vegas was no longer just an idea, but doable through a public-private partnership. Along the way she met women and men who would be financial catalysts for the school, people who invested, for example, millions in student scholarships -- the kind of gracious donors who will break ground on our new medical school building in the Las Vegas Medical District this Thursday. As most of you know, Dr. Atkinson, our planning as well as founding dean and the only woman to head three medical schools in the U.S., transitioned into an advisory role with the school of medicine in 2019. Now a special adviser for community relations and accreditation, she reaches out today to the community with healthy advice for Thanksgiving in the Age of COVID-19.