UH med school to get $3 million in grants
The University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine was to be presented today with $3 million for two endowed faculty chairs in respiratory health and research on respiratory diseases.
The awards -- from the American Lung Association of Hawaii and the Hawaii Community Foundation -- are among the largest in the medical school's history, according to a spokesman.
It was good news for the dedication of the medical school's new complex at Kakaako, scheduled for this afternoon.
The Lung Association is donating $1.5 million, and the Hawaii Community Foundation is contributing $500,000 from the Leahi Fund, which it administers, to establish two endowed chairs in respiratory health at the medical school.
The Lung Association is giving the UH an additional $1 million to support research by Dr. Elizabeth Tam, professor of medicine and interdisciplinary biomedical science, on the cause, prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases.
Association President Malcolm Koga said the grant "will contribute to a greater understanding of asthma, chronic pulmonary disease, tobacco control and air quality, all of which are priorities for the American Lung Association of Hawaii."
They chairs will be the American Lung Association of Hawaii and Leahi Fund Endowed Chair in Respiratory Health and the American Lung Association of Hawaii Endowed Chair in Neonatal Respiratory Health.
The UH Foundation said the chairs will "honor in perpetuity the Lung Association's mission to prevent lung disease and promote lung health among the people in Hawaii through education, research and advocacy."
Sterling Yee, vice president of the Lung Association's board of directors, said, "By establishing these two important positions at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, we are pleased to partner with the University of Hawaii to grow the talent of specialized physicians and researchers in pulmonary medicine at the school and throughout the state of Hawaii."
He said the association through its gift "is investing in the future of lung health in Hawaii."
The chair in respiratory health will support programs for research, education and prevention of pulmonary disease. The chair in neonatal respiratory health will support a faculty member in neonatal respiratory health in the school's pediatrics department.
Funds from the chairs also will be used to advance work being done to improve the lung health of Hawaii residents.
Hawaii's population suffers more than people in most states from respiratory diseases, Yee said, stressing the importance of the $1 million research grant.
He said nearly one out of 10 people here suffers from asthma, a debilitating disease and a leading cause of school absences.
UH researchers also will explore effects of Big Island volcanic air pollution on respiratory illnesses and the impact of high concentrations of Hawaiian mold, pollen and dust mites.