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  • image of Ann Botticelli, Jerris Hedges, Tim Dolan, Jill Omori and Howard Lee holding a check from UHA

University Health Alliance (UHA) Health Insurance has donated $1 million to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) to support student learning.

image of Max Botticelli
Max Botticelli

The donation, in celebration of UHA’s 25th anniversary, establishes the UHA Health Insurance and the Dr. Max G. Botticelli Medical Innovation Endowment, which will support JABSOM’s efforts to develop and implement innovative curriculum initiatives, including learning communities and problem-based learning.

“As the only medical school in Hawaiʻi, the critical role of JABSOM in the health of this community cannot be overstated,” said Howard Lee, UHA president and chief executive officer. “We could think of no more fitting way to celebrate our 25th anniversary than to support and encourage the development of our future physicians with this $1 million donation to honor Dr. Botticelli’s legacy.”

Student learning center dedication

In recognition of the gift, the 3,300 square-foot third-floor student learning center in JABSOM’s Medical Education Building was dedicated to the memory of the late Botticelli during a blessing event on December 10. He was a legendary member of the JABSOM faculty, practicing physician and co-founder of UHA Health Insurance. Formerly known as the Problem-Based Learning Center, it will now be called the “UHA and Dr. Max Botticelli Student Learning Center.”

Botticelli was a strong advocate of problem-based learning in which small groups of students discuss clinical cases as part of an educational process, while a faculty member serves as a facilitator. It requires that students take an active role in their learning and fosters critical problem-solving and team-building skills.

UHA and Dr. Max Botticelli Student Learning Center
UHA and Dr. Max Botticelli Student Learning Center

Connected history

UHA and JABSOM have intertwined histories that pre-date UHA’s existence: In 1996, Botticelli, then chair of the JABSOM faculty-practice insurance plan, joined other physician-educators and founded UHA as a different kind of health insurance company—one with physician leadership and a goal of improving members’ health through a focus on preventive medicine and overall well-being.

Separately, Botticelli’s family has long supported JABSOM through the Dr. Max G. Botticelli Memorial Endowment for Innovative Medical Education. The fund was established in 2012 to honor the values that he held as a practicing physician and educator.

The gift is the most recent from UHA to JABSOM. In August 2020, the two organizations announced the donation of $100,000 to underwrite the launch of the innovative patient-centered learning communities curriculum designed to help JABSOM graduates develop trusting doctor-patient relationships that have been shown to improve health outcomes. The program was introduced in fall 2020.

“This donation not only recognizes Dr. Botticelli—one of our founding instructors—but UHA’s generosity will create a student-learning center that will deliver unparalleled training for future doctors in Hawaiʻi,” said Jerris Hedges, dean of JABSOM.

“I think it’s about the best 90th birthday present anybody could give him,” said Ann Botticelli, daughter of Max Botticelli, who attended the dedication event. “To hear him honored today, not just as a doctor, but as an educator and a visionary, and to see this marriage between what he worked his whole life for—a center that’s based on the kind of education he wanted to provide for young physicians, by the company he founded, is very special and touching, and my entire family is very grateful.”

This donation is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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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.