Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2007

$800M life science plan hatched

Operation’s benefit to entire state questioned

Dr. Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the Kansas University Medical Center, presents a 10-year life sciences research plan, "The Time is Now," at the Kansas Life Sciences Innovation Center. The $800 million plan unveiled Tuesday calls for a major expansion of facilities and staff over the next decade.

Dr. Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the Kansas University Medical Center, presents a 10-year life sciences research plan, "The Time is Now," at the Kansas Life Sciences Innovation Center. The $800 million plan unveiled Tuesday calls for a major expansion of facilities and staff over the next decade.

June 19, 2007


The future of KU Med

David Adkins, vice chancellor for external affairs at the Kansas University Medical Center, talks about KU's plans to increase research and doctor training and help anchor a bioscience hub.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld says he wants more emphasis on Kansas from the $800 million, 10-year plan to help Kansas University Medical Center expand staff and facilities. Neufeld said the plan "ignores" KUMC&squot;s Wichita campus. The plan was announced Tuesday at the Kansas Life Sciences Innovation Center in Kansas City, Kan.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld says he wants more emphasis on Kansas from the $800 million, 10-year plan to help Kansas University Medical Center expand staff and facilities. Neufeld said the plan "ignores" KUMC's Wichita campus. The plan was announced Tuesday at the Kansas Life Sciences Innovation Center in Kansas City, Kan.

— Kansas University Medical Center on Tuesday rallied support behind its $800 million, 10-year plan to become a major player in life sciences research and care, but a key lawmaker expressed dissatisfaction with the proposal.

After listening to an hourlong presentation by KU officials, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld said the plan was too focused on the Kansas City metropolitan area.

"I want a lot more emphasis statewide," said Neufeld, R-Ingalls. "If you have a greater Kansas City vision that is going to be funded by Kansas, which has nothing to do with Missouri, that creates a problem in the Legislature."

The plan calls for a partnership across state lines between KUMC and Missouri facilities including the privately endowed Stowers Institute for Medical Research and several hospital systems.

KUMC Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara Atkinson said improvements in life sciences research in the region would benefit all Kansans.

"What helps the Kansas City region helps the whole state of Kansas," she said.

Recruiting talent

KU hopes to hire 244 more faculty and add 862,500 square feet of space over the next 10 years at a cost of $800 million.

"That is the single thing that this program needs to do, is bring talent here, invest in it, start people up, build programs," Atkinson said.

Officials are counting on state appropriations, an increase in research dollars and donations to pay for the plan.

The research would advance life-saving cures and better treatments, Atkinson said.

"It's not just an investment into economic development and more jobs, but an investment in better health," she said.

She made her presentation to about 50 people at the new Kansas Life Sciences Innovation Center on the KUMC campus. Attending were political and economic movers and shakers from both Kansas and Missouri.

Role of Wichita

Neufeld pointed out that the role of KUMC's Wichita campus was not mentioned in the plan. The Wichita campus includes a unit of the School of Medicine, which provides clinical training for third- and fourth-year medical students.

"They're just kind of ignored in this whole process," he said.

And, he said, the Wichita operation was having accreditation problems because KU wouldn't devote more researchers there.

David Adkins, KUMC vice chancellor of external affairs, said there were no accreditation problems at Wichita. He said KUMC had supported increased appropriations by the Legislature for research programs for residents in Wichita "for emerging accreditation standards."

The KU School of Medicine, for both its Kansas City and Wichita campuses, recently received an eight-year renewal of its accreditation, according to KUMC spokeswoman Amy Jordan Wooden.

Research funding

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, said she was impressed by KUMC's proposal but recognized legislators' desires that the plan benefit the entire state.

"It's our job as the Legislature to make sure that our investment works for the state," she said.

Atkinson said Kansas has to partner up in order to grow.

For example, she said that KU's medical school ranks 81st out of 125 medical schools in National Institutes of Health funding. That $45 million in NIH funding last year had an economic impact of $1.3 billion statewide, Atkinson said.

By comparison, the University of Iowa medical school ranked 30th in NIH funding with $137 million. That had an economic impact of $4.1 billion.

"We really have a long way to go," Atkinson said.

Bob Page, incoming president and chief executive of KU Hospital, expressed support of KUMC's efforts to increase research capacity.

"Leading-edge research, quality education and nationally ranked excellence in patient care must go hand in hand to move this campus forward," Page said in a prepared statement.

In recent months, KUMC and its partner KU Hospital have been at odds over a plan by KUMC to affiliate with Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's Hospital. Negotiations continue in the matter.


oldgoof 10 years, 10 months ago

Alas Uhlrick. Friend of Neufeld. Ad hominem analysis validated.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 10 months ago

There is no happy ending for Kansas if this plan goes through. This is the same crap as bi-state I through LVI. And again, if you look at this through a political prism, you'll miss the action. Forget politics, think money.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 10 months ago


If you try to read this as a political story you'll get lost. This is purely business and is another foray by the KCMO crowd to come into Kansas and loot our institutions. For a better read on the issue, focusing on the business aspects and its genesis in a study from The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation try the following link from the Kansas City Business Journal.

If stem cells comes into this debate from either side it's a smokescreen. This is about cold, hard cash.

MCwzMC 10 years, 10 months ago

Melivin Neufeld is right. Kansas should give more money to farmers. Why not? F*ck science, Kansas City, and Lawrence. Let's develop the rural areas!!! After all, Americans are flocking to the sparsely populated towns in Kansas.

Neufeld seems like a creep. Check out - State v. Nuefeld.

It's a shame Kansas has such an ignorant legislature.

cms 10 years, 10 months ago

Everytime I read a story like this my first thought is a little too late. Why are we always behind on initiatives?

sci4all 10 years, 10 months ago

Is this the same Neufeld who stated that rural Kansans shouldn't have to fund any of the university repairs, that the burden should be placed on the university towns?

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 10 months ago

He didn't say "any" university repairs; he didn't want to increase burden on those communities that do not have immediate access to the university and its resources. He didn't advocate for eliminating existing maintenance funding.

intellectualswindler 10 years, 10 months ago

Whatever you think of Neufeld, he does hit on an important point. Most people in central and western Kansas go to Wichita for specialized medical care. In fact, many in the far western counties travel to Denver or see specialists from Denver who hold monthly clinic hours in towns like Colby or Goodland. It's unfortunately that KUMC, which is the state's only medical school, hasn't done more in Wichita and has no major initiatives in Hays or Garden City, which have the two major hospitals in western Kansas. It seems fair that if the state and its taxpayers are asked to contribute to this initiative, there ought to be some tangible benefits for the entire state. How will a sick person in say, Tribune Kansas, take advantage of KUMC when the hospital is six hours away, and there are superior hospitals only four hours away in Denver?

WilburM 10 years, 10 months ago

This is a disappointing "news" story, in that it works hard to scrounge up a negative perspective (from Nuefield, of all people). As a rule, LJW editorializing does not push very far (if at all) into news stories, but here it does, both in the subhead and the story itself. Clearly, Dolph hates this deal and this 21st Century view of the world, but his perspective should be restricted to the editorial pages and his columns.

thinkks 10 years, 10 months ago

Uhlrick has his head screwed on backwards just like the people at the Med Center. He says "People from Kansas have to drive to Wichita or KC and fly to Houston (MD Anderson), Cleveland (Cleveland Clinic), or Minneapolis (Mayo) to get the care that is not possible here now."

Mayo and Cleveland clinic put patient care first, research second. They grew research by providing the best in patient care. It is what KU hospital is doing, but the med center wants to harm the hospital..turn over the keys to St. lukes and turn KU Hospital into a charity hospital. That is what KC Leaders want. That's what St. Luke's wants. So the med center is clicking its heels and saying Yes Sir! to the civic elites of Kansas City and undermining the only true national leader in this whole affair...KU Hospital.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 10 months ago


Better go back and read whatever you read for quotes. I said none of the things you mention.

And for those critical of Dolph, I think he knows a lot more about this than you do. In some cases of course the Missouri folks have their stooges on here pimping for the deal just as they did when they looted Johnson County the first time on Bi-State.

Personally I have no dog in this fight, but this has been the best journalism I've seen since Watergate as the JW has peeled one layer after another off the onion of Barbra Atkinson's betrayal.

And while some of you guys have attempted to portray this as a liberal/conservative thing keep in mind that Atkinson's little butt boy Atkins is a Republican who was denounced by the Nader organization for a sweetheart deal he put together when he was in the legislature.

As I said, the issue here has nothing to do with politics, this is all about money.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 10 months ago

And to that old Missouri Mule, oldgoof, this is the only thing Neufeld has done right the entire legislative session.

JSpizias 10 years, 10 months ago

The KUMC research proposal should be viewed in the appropriate context. For those who are interested in understanding US research efforts, present and future, a 500 plus page report developed by The National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine is available for download as PDF file at:

Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future

Page 120 of this report (Figure 3-13) shows a graph of the funding for various areas of science, including Life Sciences for the past decade (the figure in the pre-publication report labels funding as NIH Biomedical instead of Life Sciences). In 1999, NIH funding was about 12 billion; this doubled to about 25 billion by 2004 fulfilling a commitment made by Congress to double the NIH budget. Thus by 2004, funding for Life Science research was far out of line with other research efforts. This is being corrected. NIH funding has been basically static since 2004 and in constant dollars the budget is actually decreasing. This is having a severe effect on NIH funding, even at our top Biomedical research institution (Harvard University) where faculty are unable to get research funding.

This effect is even greater at third tier institutions such as KU Medical School which NIH data for 2005 shows ranked 81st, just above Meharry Medical College School of Medicine in NIH funding. Currently NIH grant funding levels are less than 10% for some NIH institutes. Since about half the grant applications are triaged, this means that about 1 in 20 or less of the applications are funded. Not surprisingly, many of the new junior faculty hired by KUMC have been unable to acquire NIH funding. Indeed, there are a number of senior investigators who have been unable to get grants renewed. For fiscal year 2005, the 20th ranked school (Mt Sinai School of Medicine) had ~174 million dollars in NIH funding; KU had ~33 million. Given this research environment, how realistic are the plans being put forth by Atkinson and Hemenway? This seems a lot like former UMKC Chancellor Martha Gilland's proposal to make UMKC the "Harvard of the West", perhaps admirable but totally unrealistic. Of course, as the Schmidt proposal suggests, the plan is to have Johnson County taxpayers pay for a large part of these grandiose plans.

Last, much of the new funding touted by KUMC administration is the result of funding of COBRE grants and not the much more competitive R01 grants. Only applicants from states that fare poorly in competition for R01's are eligible to apply for such grants

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 10 months ago

This is a good initiative, but it is 20 years too late.

Most medical schools were investing like this in the late 80s and early 90s and were poised to take advantage of the remarkable growth of the federal research budget in the 90s.

Sadly, KU administrators lacked the vision and leadership necessary, and KUMC remained a mediocre medical center that has now dropped below mediocre.

All the while, the University of Nebraska invested wisely, built its research infrastructure, and NU med is now a federally-designated cancer center, the current desire of KU med, and has been for some time.

KUMC stinks as a medical center. These funds should be used to bolster research at KU Lawrence, which takes in almost as much NIH money as KUMC and takes in more grant dollars per year than KUMC.

thinkks 10 years, 10 months ago

Sorry about the misaatributed quote, but the fact remains Mayo and Cleveland Clinic developed their research capacity after first building the best in patient care...patient care drove the buildup of research...not the other way around. The last time the University tried to run patient care at KU we had the heart transplant scandal and the worst patient care in the area. KU Hospital got free from the university and started to put the patient first for the first time and they are national leaders in providing quality care.

Jamesaust 10 years, 10 months ago

So, to recap: Neufeld to Johnson & Wyandotte Counties - 'go off yourselves.' Dick Cheney couldn't have put it better.

Hmmm....I wonder if Neufeld considers the residents of these counties as "Kansans"?
Hmmm...I wonder what premium to population size these two pay to the State Treasury as income taxes?

No wonder JoCo voters always want lower taxes - Topeka refuses to expend taxes collected on JoCo. Apparently, places like OP exist to foot the bill for premium school budgets for one-building school houses and roads to nowhere out in the Great American Desert -- and always will as long as these 'non-Kansans' continue to vote for legislative leaders who view them as cows to be milked!

JSpizias 10 years, 10 months ago

Dolph Simons and the LJW have expressed concern for some time about loss of KU and KUMC researchers.

Former KUMC Dean of the school of medicine (SOM), Deborah Powell has recruited several outstanding KUMC faculty to the University of Minnesota, where she is currently Dean, SOM. Minnesota ranked 31st in NIH medical school research funding for 2005 (136 million). Other KUMC faculty have been recruited by the University of Arkansas SOM, ranked 69th in NIH funding for 2005. In some cases the loss may be salary related. Currently, KUMC faculty are expected by higher administration to bring in 70% of salary from grant funds and the Schmidt report suggests that senior faculty can bring in 90% of their salary. In the case of the faculty member who was recruited to Arkansas, he/she reportedly had a large increase in salary with a salary that was fully guaranteed. To pay 70% of salary at least two NIH grants are needed. Top flight research medical schools have mechanisms for paying salaries and keeping research programs afloat in times of funding duress. KUMC lacks such support.

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 10 months ago

It is always fun to listen to Neufeld talk about higher education and research. Not so fun is the fact that he is speaker and wields much power in the legislature.

Well, gerrymandering can stop the redistribution of power along with population only for so long. Rural Kansas is dying, and their dominance of Kansas politics will die with it.

I can see the redistricting now. WyCo and JoCo wwill be divided into about 30 parts, with small arms reaching out to large swaths of western kansas.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 10 months ago

Neufeld's (admittedly crass) behavior in the indicated case has little relevance to this situation. As a policy maker, he is interested in ensuring that the broadest possible benefits flow from the least possible investment. That's what I would expect him to do, were he my representative.

That said, his comment that "Kansas...has nothing to do with Missouri" seems shortsighted to me. The economic health of the eastern-most counties is linked to that of the western-most Missouri counties. It is not in Kansas' interest for the KCMO part of the metro area to falter and fail. Nor is it in Missouri's interest to allow the Johnson/Wyandotte/Leavenworth County areas to fail. About 2/3 of the Kansas population is in about the eastern 1/3 of the State. That means the lion's share of economic investment will necessarily go to the metro areas where the population is located. An economy of scale (of sorts) can be created, considering the population density. More investment will be required in lower-density areas (such as Ingalls) for a lower level of return. This is economics, and as a State we are willing to allow that. The reverse, though, is that if an investment of several hundred million dollars in the KC area can create a return of several billion dollars, that's a pretty good deal and we should take that, too.

Even if Missouri gets some benefit from it.

jaydocky 10 years, 10 months ago

JSpizias is correct. The numbers to watch are NIH rankings. The 2005 data are here . KUMC ranks below both Oklahoma and Arkansas. Funds are so thin this year that departments have almost nothing for faculty or students. Two of the current research buildings are nearly empty and require extensive renovation, but KUMC is millions in debt and can't afford to maintain its current space. Growth is great, but growing too fast is as great a problem for organizations as not growing at all. Check the NIH rankings again in a few years to find out how well this has worked. Those are the true numbers. Dollar graphs presented by administrators can be deceiving.

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