FRESNO – UCSF Fresno recently received contributions of more than $1 million from two development companies and families known for giving back to the local community. The donations will enable UCSF Fresno to further develop its physician training and research programs

The Kolligian, Arakelian and Kashian families of River Park Properties, donated $1 million. Fresno developer and philanthropist Edward M. Kashian is the general partner of River Park Properties and CEO of Lance-Kashian & Company, a local real estate development and management firm in the Central Valley.

“We are incredibly appreciative and grateful for the generosity of Mr. Kashian and the partners of River Park,” said Michael W. Peterson, MD, associate dean at UCSF Fresno. “This contribution is an investment in the health of Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley. It will help support medical students in the UCSF San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education and enable us to continue engaging in research that addresses Valley health issues.”

California is expected to face a shortfall of 4,100 primary care clinicians in just 10 years, according to the California Future Health Workforce Commission. The projected shortfall will have a disproportionate impact on the San Joaquin Valley, which already has a well-documented shortage of physicians. The Commission, co-chaired by UC President Janet Napolitano, recently released a report underscoring the need to support primary care residency positions and medical student education among other initiatives to meet future health care needs.

“Our focus is on giving back to the local community to improve the quality of life,” said Kashian. “Every donation we make, every development project we take on, serves to enrich the place we call home. Enhancing access to high-quality health care by training physicians and keeping them here where they are needed most to care for Valley residents is from my perspective one of the most important and much needed investments we can make in the region.”

UCSF Fresno also received $75,000 from Spano Enterprises, a development company headed by Stanley Spano. Stanley and his wife Darlene are Fresno natives and devoted local-area philanthropists. They have two adult children, including Susanne Spano, MD, who is an associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at UCSF Fresno and program director of UCSF Fresno’s Wilderness Medicine Fellowship Program.

“It is truly gratifying to receive this gift from Mr. Spano,” said Dr. Peterson. “We thank him and his family, including our very own faculty member Dr. Susanne Spano, for their contribution.”

“My daughter went to medical school across the country in Philadelphia,” said Stanley Spano. “Thankfully she came home for residency and fellowship training at UCSF Fresno and then stayed on board as faculty. There is an outstanding medical education continuum in place at UCSF Fresno. I look forward to the day when Valley medical students can stay in the region to do most of their training and I am pleased to be a part of efforts to make that happen.”

UCSF Fresno trains more than 300 medical residents and fellows each year and another 300 medical students on a rotating basis. Up to 50 percent of the physicians who complete training at UCSF Fresno stay in the Valley to care for community members.

The UCSF School of Medicine received approval from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in July 2018 to establish UCSF Fresno as a branch medical campus to lead the San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (SJV PRIME). The training program is designed to prepare medical students to address the unique health needs of the region’s diverse and underserved populations.

Up to six students will start in the fall of 2019, with the goal of admitting 12 SJV PRIME students in 2020. Students enrolled in the program will spend 18 months at UCSF in San Francisco and then move to Fresno for the remainder of their medical school training.

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