$5 million from Oishei propels new UB medical school downtown to midpoint of goal - The Buffalo News
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$5 million from Oishei propels new UB medical school downtown to midpoint of goal

A $5 million donation from the John R. Oishei Foundation announced Wednesday has helped put the University at Buffalo about halfway toward its private fundraising goal for the new medical school downtown, a university official said.

“This gift will have a profound impact on this priority project for our university,” UB President Satish K. Tripathi said.

The privately raised funds so far come fairly evenly from three sources, said Dr. Michael E. Cain, UB vice president for health sciences and dean of the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Corporations and foundations, such as Oishei, constitute one group. The others are individual donors in the Buffalo community and medical school alumni.

Sources of funding for the seven-story, 540,000-square-foot medical school include $35 million from the state, $50 million UB had planned to use for maintenance of the current medical school buildings on the South Campus, $25 million in medical school reserves, $215 million in bond financing and $50 million in privately raised funds.

UB does not have a hospital of its own, and proponents of the project say the new $375 million school is a key component of a long-sought vision to create the academic medical center Buffalo has lacked by consolidating hospital, research and doctor-training facilities in one location.

Construction of the medical school began in October. It will consist of two L-shaped buildings connected by a glass atrium on 2 acres at Main and High streets on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. It will be the size of three Walmart supercenters when it opens in 2016.

Once open, the school will bring 2,000 UB faculty, staff and students to downtown.

The site of the new medical school is close to its original location when it opened in 1847 next to Buffalo General Medical Center, but officials said the project is about much more than a relocation.

“It will provide Buffalo with a world-class academic health center,” Cain said.

Such centers – institutions that combine patient care, research and doctor training – tend to be the places for newer treatments, state-of-the-art technology, well-funded research initiatives and expertise in specialties, especially those requiring the most complex care.

If successful, such centers help attract top scientists and specialists, as well as the most accomplished medical students, who serve as the pipeline for new doctors in the community, Cain said.

In 2012, the Oishei Foundation donated $10 million for Kaleida Health’s planned $237 million children’s hospital, for which construction on the Medical Campus is expected to begin in spring.

Women & Children’s Hospital, now located in Elmwood Village, will be renamed the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. The gift to the medical school is not a naming announcement, officials said. As the university gets closer to completion of the building, more information on spaces and facilities available for naming will be disclosed, according to UB.

“The Oishei Foundation recognizes the new UB medical school as a game-changing addition to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. It will redefine our region as a hub for the very best in health care,” said Robert D. Gioia, Oishei Foundation president.

Gioia also said the project will create jobs, help attract talent and encourage startup biomedical companies.

Buffalo General and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, institutions that play a large role with UB in the specialty training of medical school graduates, also are on the Medical Campus.

These projects coincide with other construction on the Medical Campus, including Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s $100 million Conventus medical office building and Roswell Park’s $40 million Clinical Sciences Center.

“The academic health center will offer unprecedented clinical, research and educational opportunities for our faculty and students. It also will help improve the health of people who live in Western New York and beyond, as Buffalo develops into a destination for innovative approaches to clinical care and treatment,” Cain said in a statement.

The new building, which was designed by architecture firm HOK, features interconnected spaces for laboratories, education and collaboration; advanced simulation centers to teach general patient care and surgery; sky bridges to other buildings; and the integration of new NFTA-Metro Allen/Hospital station.

Officials have said the new school will allow UB to create 100 new faculty positions by 2016 and increase medical school class size from 140 to 180 students per year.

email: hdavis@buffnews.com

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