University of Hawaiʻi medical students, residents and faculty from the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) are involved in the deliveries of one third of the babies born in Hawaiʻi every year, many of them high risk births.

Thanks to a $5 million dollar gift to the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, the program will be able to invest in its clinical training, research and faculty development.

“This is a huge vote of confidence for what this department did in the past, what we’re doing now and what we want to do in the future for the state of Hawaiʻi and beyond, the Pacific Rim and even nationally,” said Dr. Ivica Zalud, chair of the Deparment of OB/GYN and Women’s Health.

Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children

The gift comes from the Kosasa family, who founded ABC Stores in 1964. It is the largest private philanthropic investment to date by an individual donor or family, to the university’s medical school. The gift is being given just as the medical school kicks off the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1965.

Dr. Thomas Kosasa represented the Kosasa family at an informal announcement to faculty and residents at Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children, where he is professor emeritus in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health.

Kosasa says part of the gift will create the $4 million Kosasa Endowed Chair for current department chair Zalud. The other $1 million will create two Kosasa Endowed professorships.

“I think the students will understand that what is given to you, you should give back. And I think that’s the most important thing is to give back. I’ve had a wonderful opportunity and education and I’d like to give that back to our medical school and to our students,” said Kosasa.

This isn’t the first gift from the Kosasa family—in 2000 the family invested in the start-up of the university’s Institute for Biogenesis Research.

“Now, 15 years later, we’ve created a whole new generation of scientists who are working on issues around maternal fetal medicine and helping families have children that might not otherwise have had the opportunity,” said Dr. Roy Magnusson, JABSOM associate dean for clinical affairs. “And so that kind of gift 15 years later keeps on giving and we hope to be really good stewards of this gift and to make sure it’s put to very good use.”