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UC Merced Submits Proposal to Establish Medical Education Program in the San Joaquin Valley

June 26, 2006

The University of California, Merced submitted a proposal
earlier this month to the UC Office of the President to establish a
medical education program leading to a School of Medicine in the
San Joaquin Valley. If approved, UC Merced will enter its first
class of medical students within the next ten years.

UC Merced’s plan is to establish a medical education program
to address the disproportionate physician shortage in the Valley,
with a particular emphasis on training physicians who are competent
in multi-cultural health care and who are committed to serving the
needs of the San Joaquin Valley. The proposed medical education
program is based on academic partnerships and utilizes existing
resources in the Valley and sister UC campuses.

“Recent projections indicate that the nation needs to
increase the number of physicians by 30 percent over the next
decade,” said UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. “The
Valley currently lags significantly in both primary care providers
and specialists. Hence, a School of Medicine at UC Merced is
critical to address the healthcare needs of California and the
rapidly growing Central Valley.”

“There is a compelling need for increased access to and
availability of health care services in the Valley,” said UC Merced
Dean of Natural Sciences Maria Pallavicini. “The Valley has 25
percent fewer primary care physicians and substantially fewer
specialists compared to California as a whole. We must take action
now to ensure availability of health services in the future that
will meet the needs of our diverse and rapidly increasing

UC Merced plans to work with UCSF and UC Davis to implement a
regional model of medical education, the model recommended by a
planning task force comprised of nationally recognized health
education leaders. Preliminary plans call for the first two years
of instruction to take place on the Merced campus with hands-on
learning opportunities in local communities. Much of the third and
fourth years of clinical training initially will be held in Fresno
through the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program, which currently
trains 200 medical students throughout the year. Other clinical
campuses, such as in Modesto, will be considered as the program

“Much of the infrastructure that already exists at UCSF
Fresno will be a critical component of providing training for
third- and fourth year- UC Merced medical students,” said Joan
Voris, associate dean at UCSF Fresno, which graduates about 60

resident physicians each year. “We are very pleased to be a
partner in plans to establish a comprehensive medical education
program that leads to a UC School of Medicine in the Valley.”

The current vision is to develop a medical education program
with an initial class of 32 students, eventually reaching an
enrollment of 384. A diverse group of students that reflects the
demographics of the Valley will be developed through special
programs aimed at increasing interest in and preparedness for entry
into the medical profession.

The faculty structure will be a combination of full-time
faculty, community physicians, and advanced medical residents.
Approximately 15 full-time faculty members will be hired before the
UC Merced program opens and their numbers will be supplemented as
enrollment grows.

Facilities for the UC Merced medical education program will
be developed in phases as program enrollment expands and the number
of clinical campuses grows. Initially, facility requirements will
include sites at the UC Merced campus and the UCSF Fresno Center
for Medical Education and Research in Fresno.

Annual costs for the program administration and central
support before admissions of the charter class are projected to
average about $3 million. Annual operating costs for the medical
education instructional program are estimated to be $13 million
when the charter class of 32 students enters.

In addition to state monies, funding for the medical
education program would come from campus fees, research grants, and
non-state fees such as individuals, foundations, corporations and
other sources.

“To support the new medical education program for the Valley,
UC Merced will initiate a multi-million dollar fund-raising
campaign to support funding for the medical school research,
teaching facility, endowed chairs and student financial support,”
said Vice Chancellor for University Relations John Garamendi.

UC Merced has already secured more than $1.5 million in gifts
to support a new biomedical sciences and systems biology research
institute, which is developing on campus separately from medical
education planning. The institute’s state of the art technologies
will support a major research theme in the medical education
program: population-based health issues specific to the Valley. In
addition, UC Merced expects to publicly announce in the near future
a multi-million dollar gift to support medical education programs.

UC Merced’s proposal, which may be refined based on
recommendations from the UC Office of the President, must now be
reviewed as part of the University of California’s long-term
planning process, which includes planning for growth in its health
sciences programs. If approved by the UC system, the California
Postsecondary Education Commission also must consider UC Merced’s