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Eyeing merger, EVMS and W&M ease into research

NORFOLK

Eastern Virginia Medical School will work shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues from the College of William & Mary on $100,000 worth of research projects to test closer collaboration and a possible merger between the schools.

Ten projects will receive $10,000 each and range from community health initiatives to electronic records to abnormalities in the brains of zebra finches.

The idea of fostering more collaboration between the schools came up after a proposal in 2012 for EVMS to become William & Mary's school of medicine. That idea was put on hold after committees from each school suggested first exploring more collaborative research.

The state allocated $200,000 to explore closer collaboration or possible merger earlier this year, and Sentara Healthcare has kicked in $100,000.

A joint workshop in May at William & Mary brought people together to discuss ideas for collaboration.

A request for proposals was issued at that time.

Since then, a panel that included representatives from EVMS, William & Mary and Sentara Healthcare has reviewed various proposals and announced the approval of 10 on Monday.

Each of the projects have principal investigators and co-investigators from each school.

The projects include lab-based research, but also legal, business policy and community health initiatives. The research topics include electronic health records and patient health outcomes; abnormalities in zebra finch brains because of environmental effects; reducing smoking in young adults; eye disease related to prematurity; nurturing health literacy; and developing a medical-legal partnership between EVMS and William & Mary's law school, along with several cell biology projects.

Reports from the research teams are due in mid-October. A second workshop is scheduled at the EVMS campus on Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The William & Mary committee that issued a decision in January to hold off on a merger suggested studying the legal and financial ramifications of the schools' jointly delivering health care to the region. It also recommended pulling in the expertise of Sentara Healthcare.

Since then, Old Dominion University has announced it is studying a potential partnership with EVMS to create Virginia's first school of public health.

A request for proposals was issued in June seeking a consultant to conduct the study, funded by a $125,000 appropriation approved by the General Assembly in February.

Elizabeth Simpson, 757-446-2635, elizabeth.simpson@pilotonline.com

Posted to: Education Health News Norfolk

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Regional collaboration

Could there also be a role for Norfolk State in a broader scenario? I'm thinking that EVMS and ODU have limited campus and campus expansion space. I don't know the programs at Norfolk State nor do I know those at Chis Newport, another school to consider, though it is pretty much across the street from Riverside Healthcare, a Sentara competitor. Maybe Norfolk State could be a second research location to work with EVMS.

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