Can You Be a Thriving Bioscience Center without a Thriving Medical School?

We are all quickly becoming desensitized to the continuous flow of bad news about the economy and how it is causing closings, cutbacks and financial strain. I would even wager that many of us have even thought “I’m glad it wasn’t me” when news of another cut or layoff comes. That’s all a part of the defense mechanism that makes us humans so resilient.

Yes, some cuts do hit too far from home to have real personal meaning. Still other cuts don’t impact us directly – now – so they too are easy to ignore. One thing that I can’t ignore, nor should any of us who care about the future of our community, is what is happening to our Medical School.

A strong, vibrant, well-supported, and equally appreciated higher education community is the foundation upon which a 21st Century economy is based. And, when one of the foundations of a community’s economic future is in the biosciences – particularly biomedical excellence – a strong, vibrant, well-supported, and equally appreciated medical school is essential. Quite simply, if we do not have a strong medical school in Memphis, we do not attract the best minds in medicine to be educators, researchers and students. If we do not attract the best minds, we will not have a flow of ideas and discoveries that lead to new businesses and new opportunities. Without new business and new opportunities, even fewer of the most sought after people will consider Memphis. Cuts at the university level are the snowballs that begin an economic avalanche.

The UT Health Science Center is currently being warned of some $15 million in cuts at the six health professional schools in Memphis. The UT Board of Trustees will be gathering in Memphis later this month to make the final decisions. As business leaders in Memphis, as citizens of Memphis, as users of our community’s health services, we should all be vocally adamant that our six schools – College of Medicine, College of Dentistry, College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing, College of Allied Health and Graduate Health Sciences Departments – receive the support they need. The same goes for our U of M science programs. They need our financial support, our support through partnerships, our managerial leadership and our political support.

The economy is bad. Cutting back on one of our foundations for economic growth in the 21st Century Bioscience Economy to solve short term budget needs will only make things much much worse for our future.

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One Response to “Can You Be a Thriving Bioscience Center without a Thriving Medical School?”

  1. gwin scott Says:

    good points, steve….in talking to other universities who are in similar situations, the thing that is extra alarming is that when cuts are made at these levels, there is an exponential effect that will take a good while to recover from (?–5 yrs). almost like negative compounding that does impact spending/programs. hope this wont be the case with uthsc..

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