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"He got it built."


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dr. Edwin Cadman left a prestigious position with the Yale-New Haven Hospital Health System in 1999 and took a pay cut to lead the University of Hawaii's troubled medical school.

Several UH faculty committees had recommended abolishing the school, saying it was a financial drain.

Cadman saw it differently. In applying for the position, he said it “;offered a professional opportunity of extraordinary proportions.”;

His vision of a world-class medical school and biomedical research center materialized in Kakaako.

Cadman pointed out his prospective new office during a tour of the new John A. Burns School of Medicine facility when it was being constructed in 2004.

But he never moved in.

Cadman, an avid runner and biker, was afflicted with a rare degenerative condition, primary progressive aphasia, and stepped down as dean in 2005. The disease affects the ability to express thoughts in speech or writing, and there is no cure.

He remained on the faculty but will retire Saturday.

“;He never got to be dean in this building,”; said Dr. W. Steven Ward, interim director of the Institute for Biogenesis Research, who describes himself as Cadman's first recruit. “;To me that was the most tragic part.

“;But he got it built.”;

UH-Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw and Medical School Dean Jerris Hedges will celebrate Cadman's achievements with tomorrow's program, “;Honoring a Visionary Leader,”; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the school's Medical Education Building, 651 Ilalo St.

Funds are being raised for the Dr. Edwin C. Cadman Endowed Fund for the Study of Neurodegenerative Disorders, established at the UH Foundation in 2005 by ThinkTech Hawaii Inc.

Jay Fidell, ThinkTech founder and president, said the company and the medical school presented a 2005 program, “;Finding Your Future @ KB Park,”; that was dedicated to Cadman. KB stands for Kakaako Biotech.

The company also talked with the UH Foundation and medical school representatives and Cadman about establishing a chair for him and contributed more than $21,000 as the initial gift, Fidell said.

Additional gifts from the Friends of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, Hawaii Pacific Health and others have raised the fund to about $300,000, and the Friends and Hawaii Pacific Health will match each new gift received by Saturday up to a total of $30,000.

Fidell said Cadman “;is perhaps the greatest tech hero Hawaii has had in our time. His efforts in establishing and building the medical school at Kakaako and in recruiting top-flight researchers from all over the country were amazing and legendary.”;

Dr. Marian Melish, a pediatrician, said, “;In a true sense, Dr. Cadman's legacy is the very survival of the school of medicine to benefit the people of Hawaii.”;

Ward said he was a tenured professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, thinking of coming to Hawaii in the spring of 1999, when Cadman was still at Yale.

He said he visited Cadman and asked why he wanted to come here when he was chief of staff and senior vice president for medical affairs at Yale-New Haven Hospital Health system.

“;It's hard to get better than that,”; Ward said.

But Cadman said he “;wanted an opportunity to build,”; Ward said, and that if done right, “;a medical school could be an economic driver. He wanted to carry out that mission.”;

Ward said he came here because Cadman “;knew how to build a first-class research program and would support research.”;

“;He was a world-class scientist and physician scientist, and he made it believable that this place was taking a new direction,”; Ward said.

“;He made Kakaako happen more than any other individual. He's an amazing guy. More than just a building, he really turned around the medical school and made it a research institution.”;

Reservations for “;Honoring a Visionary Leader”; and donations for the endowed fund can be made online at www.jabsom.hawaii.edu. Call 692-0873 or 692-0879.