Maui Business

UHA Donates $1M to UH Medical School to Celebrate 25th Anniversary

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Ann Botticelli, JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges, UHF CEO Tim Dolan, JABSOM Office of Medical Education Director Jill Omori and UHA President and CEO Howard Lee. (Courtesy of University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa)

UHA Health Insurance celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding with a $1 million donation to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine to support student learning.

The donation establishes the UHA Health Insurance and Dr. Max G. Botticelli Medical Innovation Endowment, which will support JABSOM’s efforts to develop and implement innovative curriculum initiatives, including learning communities and problem-based learning.

In recognition of the $1 million gift, the 3,300 square-foot third-floor student learning center in the Medical Education Building was dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Botticelli during a blessing event on Dec. 10. He was a legendary member of the JABSOM faculty, practicing physician and co-founder of UHA Health Insurance. Formerly known as the Problem-Based Learning Center, it will now be called the “UHA and Dr. Max Botticelli Student Learning Center.”

“As the only medical school in Hawai‘i, the critical role of JABSOM in the health of this community cannot be overstated,” said Howard Lee, UHA president and chief executive officer. “We could think of no more fitting way to celebrate our 25th anniversary than to support and encourage the development of our future physicians with this $1 million donation to honor Dr. Botticelli’s legacy.” 

Botticelli was a strong advocate of problem-based learning in which small groups of students discuss clinical cases as part of an educational process, while a faculty member serves as a facilitator. It requires that students take an active role in their learning and fosters critical problem-solving and team-building skills.

UHA and JABSOM have intertwined histories that pre-date UHA’s existence: In 1996, Botticelli, then chair of the JABSOM faculty-practice insurance plan, joined other physician-educators to found UHA as a different kind of health insurance company – one with physician leadership and a goal of improving members’ health through a focus on preventive medicine and overall well-being.

Separately, Botticelli’s family has long supported JABSOM through the Dr. Max G. Botticelli Memorial Endowment for Innovative Medical Education. The fund was established in 2012 to honor the values that he held as a practicing physician and educator. 

The $1 million gift is the most recent from UHA to JABSOM.

“I think it’s about the best 90th birthday present anybody could give him,” said Ann Botticelli, daughter of Max Botticelli, who attended the dedication event. “To hear him honored today, not just as a doctor, but as an educator and a visionary, and to see this marriage between what he worked his whole life for –– a center that’s based on the kind of education he wanted to provide for young physicians by the company he founded is very special and touching, and my entire family is very grateful.”

In August of 2020, UHA and JABSOM announced the donation of $100,000 to underwrite the launch of the innovative patient-centered learning communities curriculum designed to help JABSOM graduates develop trusting doctor-patient relationships that have been shown to improve health outcomes. The program was introduced in the fall of 2020.

“This donation not only recognizes Dr. Botticelli – one of our founding instructors – but UHA’s generosity will create a student-learning center that will deliver unparalleled training for future doctors in Hawai‘i,” said Jerris Hedges, dean of JABSOM. 


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