University of Hawaiʻi medical students, residents and faculty from the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) are involved in the deliveries of one third of the babies born in Hawaiʻi every year, many of them high risk births.
Thanks to a $5 million dollar gift to the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, the program will be able to invest in its clinical training, research and faculty development.
The gift comes from the Kosasa family, who founded ABC Stores in 1964. It is the largest private philanthropic investment to date by an individual donor or family, to the university’s medical school.
“This is a huge vote of confidence for what this department did in the past, what we’re doing now and what we want to do in the future for the state of Hawaiʻi and beyond, the Pacific Rim and even nationally,” said Dr. Ivica Zalud, chair of the Department of OB/GYN and Women’s Health.
The gift will create the $4 million Kosasa Endowed Chair to support the chair of the department in perpetuity. Currently the chair of the department is Dr. Zalud. The remaining $1 million will be used to create two Kosasa endowed professorships in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health.
Endowed faculty members are the hallmark of a great institution. Outstanding universities are able to grow and maintain centers of educational excellence and research achievement because of their exceptional faculty. The prestige of such positions enhances a university’s ability to attract, retain and reward outstanding faculty.
Likewise for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, investment from private donors is essential to meeting the challenges of strategic recruitment and retention of the best clinicians, researchers, teachers and mentors in the field of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health. That is what this new gift will help the department achieve.
“This gift is a testament to the important role the Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology & Women’s Health plays in training our future obstetricians, gynecologists a and women’s health specialists, and as importantly, in advancing the health of women, fetuses, infants, and families in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Basin,” said JABSOM Dean Dr. Jerris Hedges. He continued, “Annually about 25 new MDs train in our OB/GYN Residency program. The department also operates two successful, nationally-recognized post-residency fellowships in maternal-fetal medicine and family planning. This gift will help us build on these successes.”
The Kosasas are well-known for their philanthropic support of a variety of non-profits across the state, and have been generous supporters of the University of Hawai‘i and JABSOM.
In 2000, the family invested in the start-up of the Institute for Biogenesis Research (IBR). IBR has now secured its second grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Center of Biomedical Research and Excellence.
“I think the students will understand that what is given to you, you should give back. And I think that’s the most important thing is to give back. I’ve had a wonderful opportunity and education and I’d like to give that back to our medical school and to our students,” said Dr. Thomas Kosasa, professor emeritus in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health.
The UH Board of Regents approved the Kosasa gift at its monthly meeting on January 22, 2015.