University of Minnesota: U of M pursues health sciences infrastructure that will expand access and care options for all Minnesotans

New investments in two major health sciences projects would improve access and care for all Minnesotans, according to University leaders who will discuss these innovative, community-based approaches with the University of Minnesota Board of Regents next week.

Dr. Jakub Tolar, dean of the University’s medical school and vice president of clinical affairs, and Myron Frans, the University’s senior vice president for finance and operations, will outline two projects—one in Duluth and the other in the Twin Cities—that will aim to improve the lives of people across Minnesota and directly support the University’s mission and strategic plan, MPact 2025. The University is seeking public support for the projects as part of its 2022 legislative request.

In Duluth, an academic health center nestled in the heart of the Duluth Medical District promises to provide needed health care education and interprofessional training in close collaboration with Duluth’s two health care systems, Essentia Health and St. Luke’s. This new facility would provide a home for significantly expanded and modernized health care in that region, including for those who have been historically underrepresented. The University has requested state funding, with a commitment to match funding from other sources, to design the facility. If approved and funded, design could begin this summer.

On the Twin Cities campus, a Health Discovery Hub that has been in planning for several years would position the University to expand its patient-centered research clinics (in collaboration with community partners). It would also house the University’s network for rural Minnesota clinical health research, an advanced medical device center for discovering and testing new technologies and more. Formerly known in plans as the Clinical Research Facility, this critical center, which will bring together diverse and expert health teams, was recommended by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission in 2015 along with the Health Sciences Education Center, which opened in 2020. If the University’s request for state funding for design and construction is approved, schematic design will begin immediately.

More than 70 percent of all health care professionals in Minnesota are trained by the University of Minnesota. While worthy of celebration, that statistic also reflects the tremendous responsibility the U of M has to meet the increasing demands for quality health care statewide. These projects would expand the University’s capacity to address the need for more high-quality health care professionals, as well as provide Minnesotans with increased access to groundbreaking clinical trials, specialized treatments and the best possible care available through Minnesota’s health care providers.

As part of its March meetings, the Board is also expected to:

Discuss aspects of the University’s legislative request that directly support student success, most notably funding requests for enhancements to the Promise Plus program and a new Greater Minnesota scholarship fund.
Continue a series of discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion work on the University’s five campuses, with the Crookston and Morris campuses scheduled to present.
Receive the annual report from the Board’s student representatives.

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