The Evansville campus of Indiana University’s School of Medicine announced the successful securing of $2 million in planning funds in the 2013-15 biennial budget to plan a regional academic health science education and research campus in southern Indiana.

Last year, the IU School of Medicine at Evansville started a study process with four sponsor organizations, including Memorial Hospital and Healthcare Center in Jasper. Other sponsors of the study included Deaconness Healthcare System, St. Mary’s Medical Center, and Owensboro Health. Over 30 regional leaders in academic and clinical medicine, as well as government and industry were brought in to be part of a community steering committee.

In light of the IU School of Medicine-Evansville’s expansion to a full four-year program, the goal of the study was to determine regional medical educational needs and identify collaborative opportunities that would enhance existing programs as well as explore new options for additional programs such as expanded residency programs for the region.

Indiana University President Michael Mc.Robbie says as the state’s sole medical school, the IU School of Medicine is responsible for providing medical education of the highest quality to students all across the state of Indiana. He also says the commitment of funding by the legislature to assist with the planning  is a clear sign of support for IU’s efforts to strengthen medical education opportunities across the state and will strengthen the long-term health and economic prosperity of southwestern Indiana.

Conducted by consulting firm Tripp Umbach, phase one of the study concluded in early 2013 with a recommendation to proceed with further study of specific programming needs and determination of site, size and funding sources. Phase two study participants include the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville, University of Evansville, University of Southern Indiana, Ivy Tech Southwest, Deaconess Medical System, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Owensboro Health and the Evansville Regional Business Committee.

The individual working groups will make recommendations to the project steering committee by September outlining specific programs, partnerships and a location for the new regional academic health science education campus. The completion date for the project is expected to be late 2016.