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  • group photo: Department Chair Dr. Ivica Zalud honored Dr. Mark Hiraoka as the Lakshmi Devi and Devraj Sharma Endowed Chair

The Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, John A. Burns School of Medicine has another reason to celebrate.

On March 2, Department Chair Dr. Ivica Zalud honored Dr. Mark Hiraoka as the Lakshmi Devi and Devraj Sharma Endowed Chair. Zalud made the announcement in a faculty meeting at the department’s administrative office, located at the Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

This is the second chair endowed by Professor Emeritus Dr. Santosh Sharma, who retired from the department in 2005 but continues to make generous contributions to JABSOM and to the department of OB/GYN.

Hiraoka, Associate Professor, Associate Chair of Academic Affairs, and Residency Program Director at JABSOM Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, felt honored to receive the endowment from Sharma, who mentored him.

“When I came back and became faculty here, she was one of my mentors, along with Dr. Lori Kamemoto,” said Hiraoka, JABSOM MD 1997. “She took me under her wing and mentored me, so I could take over the cervical disease and vulvar disease clinic she and Dr. Kamemoto started from scratch. I’m always going to be indebted to her for that.”

The endowed chair pays tribute to Sharma’s parents, Lakshmi Devi and Devraj, who persistently encouraged their daughter to receive an education.

This endowment will expand the existing programs to help homeless, pregnant and poor immigrant patients, to help people with addictions and people living in rural areas, and to extend the medical school’s reach to the neighbor islands. Hiraoka has experience bringing medical students and residents to the neighbor islands for rotations, as well as treating underserved patients in Leeward Oʻahu. With this endowed position, Hiraoka hopes to continue the legacy Sharma began.

“It’s a very touching thing to be part of the endowment,” said Hiraoka. “Now I can use it to push the department’s mission of serving the underserved.”

By Vina Cristobal, University Health Partners of Hawaiʻi

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The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations.