MERCED, CA - The University of California Regents’ Committee on
Educational Policy and Committee on Health Services today (May 14)
unanimously authorized UC Merced to proceed with the next phase of
planning for a School of Medicine.
As a result of the regents’ endorsement, UC Merced will begin
immediately to establish an office that will encompass all medical
school planning efforts. The next phase of planning for the campus
involves developing curriculum, planning for the infrastructure,
and seeking faculty review and approval of the curriculum and the
new school. UC Merced’s aim is to submit a full proposal and
business plan by the end of 2009.
“This is an exciting day for UC Merced, the San Joaquin Valley
and California,” said Chancellor Steve Kang. “With the regents’
approval we will continue our comprehensive and consultative
process of planning for a research-based medical school at UC
Merced. The school is necessary to train physicians to meet the
critical need for doctors in the state and medically underserved
Valley. I thank the regents for their endorsement and wish to
express sincere gratitude to the Valley community, including our
elected officials and the Valley Coalition for UC Merced Medical
School for their tremendous support.”
Based on more than three years of planning led by UC Merced’s
Dean of Natural Sciences Maria Pallavicini, in September 2006, UC
Merced submitted to the UC Office of the President a preliminary
program proposal to establish a School of Medicine. The proposed
school will help meet healthcare workforce demands by training
physicians through expanded professional training in medical
education and research. Current plans call for the enrollment of
the first class of 32 students in 2013 though factors such as
approval process, funding and hiring of leadership will affect the
A projected shortfall of up to 17,000 physicians in California
by 2015 will have an adverse and disproportionate impact on the
rapidly growing San Joaquin Valley, where access to healthcare is
already 31 percent lower than the state average. Access to
specialists in the Valley is 51 percent lower than in the rest of
In addition to improving access to health care, the UC Merced
medical school is expected to generate positive economic benefits
in the Valley considering that $845 million is spent annually by
Valley residents on health care services delivered outside of the region.
Five advocates, including members of the Valley Coalition for UC
Merced Medical School, told the regents today that the Valley’s
need for more physicians is a serious public policy issue that must
be addressed. The representatives spoke to the widespread support
in the Valley for a UC Merced medical school and recalled the
history of UC Merced as a lesson in how perseverance prevails.
Speaking were Bryn Forhan, a Fresno businesswoman and co-chair of
the Valley Coalition; Lee Kolligian, a UCLA alumnus and son of
former UC Regent Leo Kolligian; Luisa Medina, a board member of the
California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley; Larry Seigler,
M.D., former regent and president of the UCLA Alumni Association
and City of Fresno Councilmember Larry Westerlund, who is being
called to active military duty and leaves later this week for Iraq.
UC Merced’s School of Medicine builds on the campus’ strong
health sciences research base, leverages partnerships with UC Davis
and UC San Francisco medical schools, and uses existing healthcare
resources in the Valley. The UC Merced School of Medicine will be
research-intensive with programs in basic and applied sciences and
a signature program in population health with an emphasis on
chronic disease and prevention and a particular focus on conditions
pertinent to the Valley.
Plans call for a portion of the student program to take place on
the UC Merced campus with the bulk of clinical instruction taking
place in existing Valley hospitals and clinics. The first clinical
campus is slated to be at the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program
where resources are already in place to train third- and
fourth-year medical students. Additional clinical campuses in the
Valley would be developed in the future. More than 20 of the
largest community hospitals and health centers in the Valley have
expressed interest in partnering with UC Merced on the new medical school.
At maturity, the proposed UC Merced School of Medicine is
envisioned to have a total enrollment of 384 medical (MD) students
and approximately 70 graduate (PhD) students.
Based on the preliminary proposal, in 2008-09, projected costs
associated with planning the medical school are estimated to be
approximately $2 million with funding provided by a gift from
United Health Foundation. During 2009-2011, the campus estimates
costs to be approximately $7 million, of which $2 million also is
supported by the United Health gift. Annual increments will be
needed to develop implementation plans and recruit the charter
faculty during 2011 through 2013. At its planned opening in 2013,
the new School of Medicine is anticipated to have an operating
budget of $11 to $16 million.
At full enrollment and build out, annual operating costs
associated with the medical school are estimated to be
approximately $81 to $86 million (in 2007-2008 dollars). Funding
would be provided by a combination of state funds and educational
fees, professional school fees, clinic revenue, contracts, grants
and gifts and endowments. Funds are also needed for buildings and infrastructure.
All budget numbers are estimated. UC Merced expects to refine
budget plans over the next 12 to18 months.
UC Merced has already received new funds totaling more than $10
million to support several aspects of medical school planning and
related biomedical research activities. UC Merced continues to be
successful in raising funds from private sources recording more
than $72 million since the inception of the campus. Authorization
by the regents for continued planning for the proposed School of
Medicine is instrumental to furthering the campus’ fundraising efforts.
When submitted, UC Merced’s final proposal and business plan
will be subject to all customary review and approval requirements
of the university and state, including final approval by the regents.
The regents’ endorsement enables UC Merced to move forward plans
to establish a School of Medicine, including creating a planning
office; developing curriculum and a full proposal and business
plan; planning for initial infrastructure; seeking faculty review
and approval of the curriculum and new school; and launching a
fundraising campaign. The campus anticipates submission of a formal
proposal for a School of Medicine to the president of the
University of California in approximately 12 to 18 months. Pending
approvals and the commitment of new resources, the School of
Medicine is proposed to open in 2013.
For more information on UC Merced’s proposed School of Medicine,