logos for the medical school, school of public health, lifespan, and care new england

Dear Colleagues,

Since the announcement last November of an aligned research collaboration involving Lifespan, Care New England, and Brown University, there has been palpable excitement in our community. That enthusiasm has only grown in recent months as we began holding retreats and forming working groups that are creating the framework for a new administrative structure that will oversee biomedical and health research for our community.

We are writing today to share the name of this new structure: Brown Innovation and Research Collaborative for Health, or BIRCH. We selected this name based on input from leaders at all levels of the research enterprise, across our institutions. We believe it comprehensively reflects our vision:

  • Brown: we are anchored at the University—no matter where our faculty practice or conduct their research, they are united by affiliation with Brown;
  • Innovation: we are aligning our research in order to encourage innovation, removing the obstacles and allowing our faculty to achieve impact;
  • Research: we are squarely focused on discovery, from basic science to clinical trials and population health;
  • Collaborative: we are committed to working together;
  • Health: our end goal—to improve the lives of people in Rhode Island and beyond.

The acronym BIRCH will undoubtedly bring to mind the birch tree. Known as a pioneer species, the birch is often the first tree to take root and flourish on fresh earth. Etymologically, the word birch means to “shine.” The tree has significance in numerous spiritual traditions, often symbolizing rebirth and purification. And the birch has long been used medicinally by indigenous peoples, who recognized its antiseptic and healing properties. While not intentional, we believe these associations with growth, renewal, and healing reflect what we envision for BIRCH.

We look forward to sharing more updates with you as BIRCH takes shape. Thank you for your partnership and the hard work you are doing to put this vision into operation.


BIRCH Joint Executive Council

Mukesh K. Jain, MD
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs; Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences

Ronald Aubert, PhD
Interim Dean, Brown School of Public Health

John Fernandez
President and CEO, Lifespan

Michael Wagner, MD
Chief Executive Officer, Care New England