Chaminade, Med School To Partner On Obesity, Health Studies

Give Chaminade University three months, and it will show you $360,000 in grants earned – including $75,000 from HMSA Foundation to create research opportunities for its medical students with UH’s John A. Burns School of Medicine.

The university has been pushing hard to prep the next generation of health practitioners in Hawaii and the Pacific, according to Chaminade’s dean of natural sciences and mathematics, Helen Turner.

“HMSA encouraged Chaminade to look beyond its own walls … for collaborators in the community,” Turner said, the kind who would give students enriching, meaningful experiences. The foundation, she noted, “has been very positive about trying to help Chaminade, as a small institution, to really do the best it can possibly to do to leverage those opportunities.”

Formal collaborations with JABSOM date back to 2007, but this HMSA grant funds the first cohort of Chaminade students who will collaborate on obesity, premature birth and cardiovascular disease studies.

“It gives the students some fantastic perspective,” explained Dr. Alex Stokes, an assistant professor at JABSOM’s Center for Cardiovascular Research.

“They get to see how a professional lab works. In theory, they’ve learned a lot of things on the bench in their undergraduate labs, but now they’re applying that to scientific questions.”

Turner believes the grant is just the first step for improved collaboration between institutions here. “(HMSA) really recognizes how we’ve all got to partner together in Hawaii. There’s not that many of us … Everyone brings something different to the table.”

Faculty from both schools also will work together on initiatives, including improved curriculum and jointly pursuing federal funding.

Other significant grants the Kaimuki-based college received in the first quarter of 2014 include $150,000 from an anonymous Californian foundation for nursing classroom renovations and $75,000 from First Hawaiian Bank

Foundation for athletics support facilities. American Savings Bank donated $30,000 to maintain the 2014 Hogan Entrepreneurs/American Savings Bank Non-Profit Business Plan Competition.

Scholarship monies are included in the grand total, as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs gave $30,000 for Native Hawaiian scholarships in nursing, and the Vincent & Katherine Neal Memorial Fund donated $4,286 for education majors.