The Academy at Harvard Medical School, established in 2001, was formed at a critical moment for medical schools in this country. Several decades of enormous growth in the biomedical research and clinical care activities of medical school faculty have resulted in great societal benefit. The unintended consequence has been a decline in faculty time and reward for the educational mission that is unique to a medical school. The impact of this decline is particularly felt now because the explosive growth in the science and technology relevant to medical practice, coupled with dramatic changes in the health care delivery system, calls for new models for the education of the next generation of physicians. The mission of the academy is to renew and reinvigorate the educational mission of Harvard Medical School (HMS). By bringing together a select group of some of the school's most talented and dedicated faculty and providing direct support for their work related to education, the academy has created a unique mechanism for increasing the recognition of teaching contributions of both academy members and the teaching faculty at large, fostering educational innovation, and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas related to medical education that cross departmental and institutional lines. The authors describe the academy's membership criteria, structure, governance, activities, institutional impact, and plans for long-term evaluation, and indicate challenges the academy will face in the future.