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UC Merced to Develop Health Sciences and Medical Education Programs in the San Joaquin Valley

March 2, 2006

UC Merced engages Valley community in plan to improve health of
the region

MERCED, CA— The San Joaquin Valley of
California has fewer primary care physicians than the statewide
average; a higher incidence of health problems compared to other
regions; and loses millions of dollars from the economy each year
as local residents with health insurance seek care elsewhere. One
of the University of California, Merced’s long-term goals is to be
a leader in a San Joaquin Valley health care and health sciences
alliance, and to improve dramatically the well being of the diverse
San Joaquin Valley communities.

UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey announced that the
university is currently in the process of developing health
sciences programs and planning graduate medical education programs
that are anticipated to lead to a school of medicine.

“A University of California School of Medicine that leverages
medical education opportunities in the communities it serves will
raise the level of care across the Valley, change perceptions about
health care quality, keep health care dollars in the region and
serve as an economic engine for the San Joaquin Valley,”
Tomlinson-Keasey said.

Over the next few months, Tomlinson-Keasey and UC Merced’s Dean
of Natural Sciences Maria Pallavicini will hold a series of
meetings throughout the San Joaquin Valley to discuss emerging
plans for UC medical education and health sciences programs in the
region and engage stakeholders in the process (see schedule below).
UCSF Fresno Associate Dean Joan Voris also will participate in the
discussions. Meetings with UC Merced and UCSF Fresno faculty
members were held in February.

“The San Joaquin Valley must be united in its efforts to develop
a stellar medical education program that serves the health needs of
local residents,” said Pallavicini. “Biomedical and clinical
research from the lab to the bedside and vice versa will catalyze
new discoveries and allow scientists and physicians across the
Valley to become leaders in research that will improve the health
and well being of residents in the Valley, state and world.”

In a recently released report, an expert panel charged with
beginning planning for UC health sciences and medical education in
the Valley recommended a regional distributed model of medical
education based on partnerships with existing community health providers.

The group, which consisted of medical educators, community
leaders and faculty members from UC Merced and the schools of
medicine at UC San Francisco and UC Davis, UCSF Fresno and a number
of national consultants, was formed in 2004 by David B. Ashley,
executive vice chancellor and provost at UC Merced. The panel
carefully considered a number of factors, including the health care
challenges facing the Valley and unique aspects of UC Merced,
particularly the campus’ interdisciplinary programs, before making
its recommendations.

Key benefits to the regional distributed model for UC medical
education in the San Joaquin Valley include:

  • Training of students at UC Merced and clinical training sites
    throughout the region.
  • Leveraging existing health care resources and community
    partnerships in the Valley.
  • Bypassing the $2-4 million per bed price tag associated with a
    bricks and mortar teaching hospital, which is unrealistic in
    California’s current financial climate.

In addition to outlining the regional distributed model for
medical education in the Valley, the report also addresses the
planned Biomedical Sciences and Systems Biology Research Institute,
which is a critical component of building premier UC health
sciences and medical education programs in the Valley.

“Health sciences and medical education programs in the UC system
are built upon outstanding research programs in basic and applied
sciences as well as innovative curricula,” said Ashley. “These
programs spark the advances that lead to better understanding of
the causes, treatments, and in some cases, prevention of human diseases.”

The University of California plays a critical role in providing
health care to Californians and training health professionals in
the state. It is the fifth largest health care delivery system in
California. Currently, the UC system encompasses five schools of
medicine at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

The announcement of UC Merced’s plans to develop health sciences
and medical education programs in the Valley marks the beginning of
a process, which includes engaging the UC Office of the President,
UC Board of Regents, governor, Legislature and Valley communities.

The following is a list of upcoming public meetings sponsored by
UC Merced to involve community members in plans to improve the
health of the Valley through research, medical education and
community partnerships:

City Date Time Location
Fresno Monday, March 6 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. UCSF Fresno Center for Medical
Education & Research

155 N. Fresno St.
Visalia Thursday, March 23 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Visalia Convention Center, Sequoia A

303 E. Acequia Avenue
Modesto Monday, March 27 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Great Valley Center

201 Needham Street
Merced Tuesday, April 11 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. UC Merced, Classroom Building, Room

5200 North Lake Road
Stockton Wednesday, April 12 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. University of the Pacific

Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Health Sciences Teaching & Learning Center, Rooms 110 and

7651 Brookside Road
Bakersfield Wednesday, April 19 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. UC Merced Bakersfield Center

2000 K Street