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Legislative Budget Review

University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) President Jay A. Perman, MD, and other UMB leaders concluded two days of testimony before the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis on the University's Fiscal Year 2015 budget Feb. 20. In testimony to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee's Subcommittee on Education, Business and Administration, he expressed support of University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor William E. Kirwan's budget request, and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's budget. "Your investment in us enables us to train what we estimate to be 60 percent of the state's doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals."

Earlier in the 2014 legislative session, the General Assembly's Department of Legislative Services (DLS) recommended that the legislature reduce the governor's higher education budget, proposing a cut of $7 million from the roughly $1.2 billion allocated to USM schools. Noting an uptick in tuition revenues, DLS analysts suggested USM schools could fund employee's cost of living pay increases without state assistance.

DLS policy analyst Sara Baker apprised subcommittee members of some of the recent developments at UMB. Baker told the subcommittee that professional and graduate school student debt has affected career choices and cited a recent dip in enrollment at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She explained, however, that the law school was taking measures to improve enrollment, including the launch of a new Master of Law program aimed at non-legal professionals. Baker also noted that $950,000 was allocated in the FY 2015 budget for accreditation of the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) - UMB Collaborative School of Public Health, with the expectation of accepting students in the fall of 2015.

UMB's Perman, along with Kathleen M. Byington, MBA, chief administrative and financial officer and vice president, appeared next, extolling the value of investment in UMB for all Marylanders. "Your support of the Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF) has allowed us to protect, preserve, and grow the Greenebaum Cancer Center (UMGCC) as a leader in cancer prevention and treatment in the nation," he said. "We believe that this investment has helped us reduce cancer incidence and mortality in Maryland below the national average." In 2000, the General Assembly created the CRF program with funding from the 1998 Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry. The goal of the program is to implement strategies to reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease in Maryland, emphasizing tobacco use prevention and cessation, and cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.

Perman added that state investment, and the success it has enabled at the UMGCC, has fostered a partnership with private industry to provide another great resource for Marylanders, the Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC). "This will provide our citizens with a cutting-edge radiation facility," Perman told the subcommittee. Scheduled to open for patients at the University of Maryland BioPark in 2015, the MPTC will allow University of Maryland School of Medicine oncologists to treat even very difficult to reach cancers with greatly reduced side effects.

State Senator Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's County), asked about the BioPark, and how businesses based there support the University. "Many of them take advantage of the proximity to the University," Perman explained, citing a UMB-led team that recently secured a five-year, $6 million partnership with the giant drug manufacturer MedImmune.

Perman also explained how the nearly two-year-old USM budget-supported partnership with UMCP, The University of Maryland, MPowering the State, has flourished to the benefit of Maryland's economy. "Since MPower was launched, technology licensing has grown by nearly 50 percent," he said.

Another example of a return on investment in MPower includes the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, in which UMB and UMCP partner with the federal government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to leverage their collective research strengths to foster integrated, cross-disciplinary team approaches to scientific discovery and education, and to serve the expanding economic base of biosciences and technology in the state of Maryland and the nation. "We are committed to the research economy of Montgomery County and the I-270 Corridor, and also to the surrounding counties," Perman told the subcommittee. In similar fashion, MPower's Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI) works closely with scientists at the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to modernize and improve the way drugs and medical devices are reviewed and evaluated.

The state's investment in higher education and the MPower collaboration is also poised to offer Marylanders a powerful tool for the future of healthcare: personalized medicine. The Center for Health-Related Informatics and Bioimaging (CHIB) combines College Park's computer science expertise with UMB's bioimaging scientists. "Huge data sets emerge from our clinical care," Perman said, which will enable researchers to determine the most effective treatments for patients. The research is already on the cusp of extensive grants. "Our researchers have submitted more than $70 million in research proposals," he said.

But UMB's outreach to the state is not limited to its MPower partnership with UMCP. As an example, Perman described for the subcommittee UMB's collaboration with Anne Arundel Community College, where students training to be physician assistants are enrolled in a Master of Health Science curriculum, with much of the coursework available online. A greater supply of well-trained physician assistants is expected to be needed to fill in the gaps in health care as more Americans are added to health insurance rolls in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act.

Even the manner in which health care professionals are trained is changing at UMB. "Last year we established the Center for Interprofessional Education with the intention that our students learn to provide team-based care." The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes team-based care, wherein professionals from various disciplines apply their expertise collaboratively, as a critical element of primary care practice transformation.

Not only the future of Maryland higher education, but the health of Marylanders is at stake, Perman told the subcommittee. "Any cut to the budget means having to cut back from programs just as they are coming to fruition for the state."
Posting Date: 02/24/2014
Contact Name: Alex Likowski
Contact Phone: 410-706-3801
Contact Email: alikowski@umaryand.edu