- Associated Press - Saturday, April 25, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - The University of Hawaii at Manoa medical school could lose its accreditation and its cancer center could no longer have its designation as a federal research center if the university isn’t able to plug a $13 million budget hole, a report and business plan for the institutions has warned.

The plan says getting funding from the state would be the “most cost-effective” way to address the situation, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1OqpEK4 ) reported.

The university’s Cancer Center is one of 68 National Cancer Institute-designated centers in the country. This status makes the school eligible to receive research funds from the federal agency.

The National Institutes of Health, which includes the National Cancer Institute, last fiscal year awarded more than $40 million for health research at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Cancer Center. That represents 85 percent of total NIH funding to Hawaii that year.

“We really do have to consider all the options. It’s not as simple as a cheap option and an expensive option,” Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman said Friday. “We need to figure out a way to combine resources from (state) general funds coming to the Cancer Center and the medical school, plus some resources from clinical trials, plus a real increased emphasis on philanthropy, plus the efficiencies created as we put the two operations together, and finally, external grants.”

The business plan offers several options for plugging the budget hole.

The first would consolidate the two campuses and maintain the cancer center’s federal research designation. This would require supplemental funding of an estimated $13 million to $13.5 million a year.

An alternative would allow the cancer center to lose its federal research designation. Under this scenario, additional funding still needed for core expenditures would drop to $9.4 million next year and $6.6 million the following year. About 100 to 150 people would lose their jobs because of layoffs and attrition under this scenario.

Bley-Vroman said he plans to have a group of experts outside of UH review the proposals and make recommendations.

The Cancer?Center’s old business plan assumed the university’s share of the state cigarette tax would remain steady at nearly $20 million a year to pay for operations. But as fewer people smoke, the center’s share of the tax has dropped from $19.5 million in 2010 to $14 million last year.

The medical school, meanwhile, relies on a portion of the state’s tobacco master settlement agreement. Under a 1998 class-action settlement with the tobacco industry, Hawaii is one of more than 40 states that receive payments from an endowment. But these payments are also declining.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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