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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 29, 2007

School of Medicine is on right track and thriving

By Ed Cadman

Historically, the John A. Burns School of Medicine has played an important role in Hawai'i's healthcare system. Now the medical school is playing an even greater role, not only in the healthcare system, but also in the state's economy.

The new campus at Kaka'ako, the hiring of new world-class physicians and scientists, and the development of relationships with biotechnology companies and our hospital partners, have allowed the school of medicine to make significant contributions to the economic vitality of the state.

With continued support from the university administration, the board of regents, Gov. Linda Lingle and former Gov. Ben Cayetano, the Legislature and the business community, the John A. Burns School of Medicine has become a source of civic pride for our entire state.

Seven and a half years ago, the closure of the school was imminent. The progress since then has been tangible and impressive. These successes are a testament to the faculty, staff and students of our school, who are working together to achieve excellence.

At the time I was hired, the state of Hawai'i chose to diversify its economy by investing in the biotechnology industry. I lobbied the government and community leaders to understand that we could not simply import biotechnology it is clustered around research-intensive medical schools primarily in San Diego; San Francisco; Boston; and New Haven, Conn.

If Hawai'i wanted to successfully grow a biotechnology presence, we needed a research-intensive medical school in our state. During my tenure as dean, our medical school, the faculty, staff and students accomplished this goal. Now the John A. Burns School of Medicine, our university and the state of Hawai'i are reaping the rewards of our efforts.

Total revenues for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, totaled $120 million. This was more than twice the revenues earned just five years earlier. Development dollars have also grown steadily, more than doubling over the past six years as well. Grants and contracts increased sevenfold over this period, while practice dollars more than tripled since 1999. The medical school is now functioning as a successful company.

So much has been invested already, and we don't want to fail our state, our community and ourselves. Investment today will bring success tomorrow.

Ed Cadman, M.D., is the former dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.