This is an exciting time for our community, and for Kansas City’s university.
We are making great progress in Jackson County, and in our region, because we have learned to work together. We are cooperating across this community, leveraging our strengths, shoring up our weaknesses, and creating a whole that is so much greater than the sum of the individual parts.
The proposed Jackson County Institute for Translational Medicine is a perfect example of this. Since the UMKC School of Medicine was founded more than 40 years ago, we have worked hand in hand with our local hospital partners, including Children’s Mercy and Saint Luke’s, to train physicians, conduct research and practice academic medicine. That broad opportunity – to be a practicing physician, an educator, and an active academic researcher – has played a critical role in attracting a number of world-class medical scientists to our community.
Armed with the resources of this exciting new collaboration, we can take this recruiting effort to the next level. We can make this region one of just a handful of communities in the U.S. – and really, the world – where a critical mass of talent, resources and opportunity establishes us as a contender for attracting the best and brightest clinicians, scientists and entrepreneurs in the medical field.
Already, some of the most outstanding young people in the world come here to become physicians. They are drawn by our extraordinary six-year medical degree program, and by the opportunity to learn not just in the classroom, but in the exceptional environments of Children’s Mercy, Saint Luke’s, and our other clinical affiliates: Truman Medical Centers, Research Medical Center, the Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Center for Behavioral Medicine.
Imagine how much more magnetic the UMKC School of Medicine will be when it is at the center of such a research and academic powerhouse. Keep in mind that half of our medical school alumni stay right here in Missouri and the Kansas City area to practice after graduation, so think what that means for the quality of medical care that will be available to us in this community.
Think, too, of the direct impact of this research on the quality of care in our community. UMKC medical research is focused on chronic health issues that impact large numbers of our citizens. We have a particular focus on illnesses that affect children and the elderly; and often have a disproportionate effect on minority populations. These chronic illnesses take lives, cause human suffering, and are extremely expensive to treat. They include heart disease, asthma, diabetes, glaucoma, osteoporosis, obesity and addiction. We are already racing against time to find new treatments for these afflictions; with this institute, those treatments will arrive even faster, and they will arrive first right here in this community.
We built our Hospital Hill Campus right here in this neighborhood, as a tangible sign of our commitment to this community. We have expanded that campus over the years, in enrollment, in programs, and in physical size, to match the formidable health challenges the campus is designed to address. We are going to break ground soon for our first student housing project on Hospital Hill, another major investment by the University of Missouri System, and another tangible sign of our commitment to this community.
Eighty years ago, in the depths of the Great Depression, this community came together to create a university to advance itself and realize its full potential. You placed your trust in that university – your public university. We are committed to honoring that trust, and to doing everything in our power to realize this community’s great potential.