$27 million sought for UNLV medical school

Las Vegas is edging closer to getting its own medical school.

The state Board of Regents decided Friday to ask the governor to put $45.94 million toward transforming medical education in Nevada.

The two-year funding request asks that UNLV’s new medical school get $26.67 million. It also seeks a $5.09 million boost for the University of Nevada School of Medicine, plus $4.3 million for one-time expenditures. Also, $9.88 million is being sought for graduate medical education.

The regents are asking that the University of Nevada School of Medicine receive additional funding because it will be scaling back its Las Vegas operations and building up its Reno presence in response to the planned Las Vegas medical school.

Las Vegas is the largest metropolitan area in the nation without its own medical school, according to a report by Brookings Mountain West and SRI International.

The request to expand the state’s medical budget was part of the regents’ overall biennial budget request, which was approved Thursday.

Regents and medical school stakeholders were abuzz with excitement.

Barbara Atkinson, planning dean for the UNLV School of Medicine, said the Friday vote was the project’s first big hurdle and she was pleased to see so many people supporting UNLV’s efforts.

Regent James Leavitt called the day “historic,” Chancellor Dan Klaich said he couldn’t be more ecstatic and Regent Jack Schofield labeled it a miracle.

“The north always outfoxed the south!” Schofield laughed, marveling that he never thought he’d see the day where Northern and Southern Nevada came together on an issue as they have in regard to the medical school.

Atkinson said UNLV is making progress on picking a location for the medical school. The three sites being evaluated are near UNLV’s main campus, the Las Vegas’ medical district near UNLV’s Shadow Lane campus and an area near the VA Medical Center in North Las Vegas.

UNLV is aiming to take on its first class of medical schools at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year. The goal is to graduate 60 students a year to start, with that number growing up to 180. UNLV expects to recruit 120 physicians and scientists as faculty.

The vision statement for the project lists the following aims:

— Be fully accredited

— Increase the number of physicians staying or returning to Las Vegas after they complete residency programs

— Generate up to $48 million dollars of external research grants and contracts per year

— Generate 5,300 new jobs by 2025, growing to 8,000 jobs by 2030

— Generate an economic impact of $800 million per year by 2025, growing to $1.2 billion by 2030

— Secure $350 million of philanthropic support

Acting UNLV President Don Snyder called the budget approval process very thoughtful, noting a lot of good things came out of the meeting.

In addition to funds for the medical school, the request includes other items for UNLV, including $1.5 million to help the UNLV Boyd School of Law with a shortfall caused by a decrease in applicants. It also sets parameters to allow UNLV to pursue a project on the east side of Maryland Parkway by the university’s main campus. The development aims to create a permanent home for UNLV’s police department, a new parking structure and space for privately operated student housing and retail, as well as office space.

The request will be sent to Gov. Brian Sandoval on Sept 1. It asks for $1.2 billion in state funding. That’s 17.34 percent more than what the Legislature funded last session. If Sandoval supports the funding, it will be included in his budget and submitted to the state Legislature.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes.