Legislative Funding will Help UNM Health Sciences Center Serve New Mexicans (2024)

By Chris Ramirez | June 26, 2024

Beginning July 1, 2024, new funding will become available to The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (HSC) that will help upgrade aging equipment, modernize existing buildings, and expand educational programs. This funding was appropriated by the New Mexico State Legislature during its regular session earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. In total, the HSC stands to bring in more than $155 million in this next fiscal year, which according to the UNM Government and Community Relations Office, is a nearly eight percent increase over the previous year.

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“We’re grateful for the many people who worked tirelessly to help communicate UNM Health and Health Sciences’ missions and programs to our lawmakers, the governor, and her team. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature share in our vision to create healthier and more equitable communities. We are thankful for their leadership and support.”

Doug Ziedonis, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President of UNM Health Sciences & CEO of the UNM Health System

Here is a breakdown of some of the projects and programs that will receive new state funding:

UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center

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The UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center will receive $15 million dollars to continue expansion of a 49,000 square-foot, four-segment plan, prioritized by patient needs.

In the first segment, which was completed earlier this year, the UNM Cancer Center introduced the Elekta Versa HD to perform intensity modulated radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery for a wide variety of tumor types.

In the second segment, a new, state-of-the-art magnetic resonance linear accelerator (MRI LINAC) is being installed. It will simultaneously image a tumor while focusing radiation beams on it. The MRI LINAC will be the only machine of its kind in New Mexico. The second segment will also provide space for expanding the UNM Cancer Center’s theranostic and chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR-T) programs. Construction is expected to be completed in 2026.

The third segment will include an 11,000 square foot interventional radiology space and a 4,000 square foot cellular Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) laboratory for cell processing for the UNM Cancer Center’s Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation program.

A fourth segment to expand the UNM Cancer Center radiopharmacy program is still under review.

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“We are grateful to the Governor’s office and our NM Legislature for their ongoing support of the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in our state and for their commitment to ensure that we continue to offer the best cancer care to New Mexicans.”

Yolanda Sanchez, PhD, Director and CEO, UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center

UNM Project ECHO

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Project ECHO, a widely successful institute housed in the UNM Health Sciences Center harnesses the power of technology to empower front line health care workers in remote, rural and underserved parts of the state with the knowledge and guided support they need to treat a variety of diseases and health care conditions. Through nearly 40 health care programs, New Mexicans in rural and tribal areas of our state receive care from providers in their own community while receiving specialized care that they would normally have to drive to Albuquerque to receive.

With a strong belief in its mission, the New Mexico Legislature appropriated an additional $3 million to Project ECHO to further fund a series of programs that will support health care workers in every county in New Mexico with programs on dozens of topics, including new programs for midwifery, syphilis, pediatrics, and more. Project ECHO was also awarded $800,000 from the Opioid Settlement Fund to run programs that will educate health care providers about opioid use disorder in detention centers, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), and other mental and behavioral health topics.

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“We want everyone in New Mexico to have access to excellent health care, close to where they live. Through our ECHO programs we are improving access to specialty care in every county in the state.”

Sanjeev Arora, MD, Founder and Director, Project ECHO

UNM College of Nursing

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With an estimated 6,000+ nurse shortage across New Mexico, according to the NM Hospital Association, the need to recruit, educate, and retain nurses is critical to fill the gap in our state’s health care workforce. Understanding the need, the State expanded appropriations to the College of Nursing from $5,775,500 to $7,275,800, an increase of $1,500,300 to assist the College in growing its Graduate Nursing Education Advanced Practice, the and the Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. These funds will increase baccalaureate-prepared nurses as well as all nurse practitioner and nurse-midwifery students across all concentrations providing increased access of care to all areas of the state. Research demonstrates that a higher prevalence of baccalaureate-prepared nurses positively impacts patient outcomes. Additionally, our nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives are licensed independent professionals with full prescriptive authority and depending on specialty serve as essential primary and acute care providers across New Mexico.

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“Funds appropriated to the College of Nursing will help ensure a healthier New Mexico both at the bedside, in primary care, and beyond. Our students are poised to care for our communities and enrich the lives of all patients and their families. We are grateful to the state for continuing to assist us in educating more nurses, nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives.”

Rosario Medina, PhD, FNP-BC, ACNP, CNS, Dean and Professor, UNM College of Nursing

UNM College of Pharmacy

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Every two years, New Mexico’s voters decide on a series of General Obligation Bonds. The NM Legislature included a request from the UNM College of Pharmacy for $35 million to renovate and modernize the College’s 50-year-old building on the Higher Education General Obligation (G.O.) Bond question. If voters approve the bond in November, the College will be able to upgrade HVAC and utility systems and create an energy efficient building exterior that will create a ripple effect of savings of monthly costs to operate the building. Additionally, the funds will allow a transformation of classroom and laboratory spaces, directly contributing to the future success of future pharmacy students. If the Higher Education G.O. Bond is passed, New Mexico taxpayers will not see an increase in their tax bills.

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“I came to the College of Pharmacy in 1996 when our building was 21 years old, and it was big enough to accommodate all the faculty and students at the College. Flash forward to 2024, the College has significantly expanded its mission and outgrown its home. More than ever, this is the time for the College to move forward and improve our physical facilities. This kind of support for our students and faculty will be the catalyst to that advancement.”

Donald Godwin, PhD, Dean and Professor, College of Pharmacy

New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator

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While the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) is centralized in Albuquerque, the OMI serves the entire state and has jurisdiction for deaths occurring on state land. With an appropriation of $3.4 million, the OMI will replace aging and inoperable equipment that is fundamental to complete death investigations. Replacement of failing equipment is not only necessary to continue daily operations, but central to OMI’s mission in investigating deaths to serve the living. With funding, OMI can continue to provide high-quality decedent care in a safe environment, that will improve health, safety, and justice in New Mexico.

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“We are extremely grateful for the historical and current support as we continue to serve the State in this important role of public health and safety.”

Heather Jarrell, MD, Chief Medical Investigator

UNM Health Sciences Research and Medical Sciences Labs

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UNM Health Sciences’ researchers must use cutting edge equipment to unravel cutting edge discoveries. Students must have access to laboratory spaces to allow for the research and simulation experiences that will prepare them for a career in health sciences when they graduate. Understanding this mission, the State provided $60,000 to upgrade laboratory equipment.

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“State and legislative funding empower UNM HSC to improve health equity, educate future professionals, and drive innovation. These funds ensure that academic research continues to thrive, benefiting society, advancing knowledge, and preparing future leaders.The importance of State and legislative funding for research in academic centers cannot be overstated.”

Hengameh Raissy, PharmD, Interim Vice President, UNM Health Sciences Research

And, to further support university research and development broadly, the NM Legislature appropriated an additional $10 million in FY25 funding for the state’s Technology Enhancement Fund (TEF) which supplies matching funds for federal grant opportunities that are identified as priorities for state interests. The increase was also supported by the NM Higher Education Department.

Academic Success

Creating an environment that fosters academic success and achievement is a key mission for HSC leadership. As such, the State has appropriated $1.7 million to be spread out across the next three years to expand the UNM School of Medicine Learning Environment Office (LEO). LEO’s mission centers on creating inclusive learning environments where faculty, staff, learners, and students can thrive.

Additionally, with seed funding of $170,000, UNM will begin design and construction of a new UNM HSC Student Success Center. This Center, once completed, will be a focal point for Health Sciences students to access various departments such as financial aid, Bursar’s Office, and other services in a one-stop-shop.


House Bill 2, also known as the State Budget, includes partial funding for a 3 percent increase for non-student faculty and staff in a budgeted position who have completed their probationary period, subject to satisfactory job performance. It also includes an additional appropriation of $9.3 million to be distributed for public employees statewide, including higher educational institutions, for the general fund share of medical insurance premiums paid by employers.

For a complete review of UNM’s 2024 legislative priorities and final session report, click here.

Categories:College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, College of Population Health, Community Engagement, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Diversity, ECHO, Education, Health, Research, School of Medicine, Top Stories

Legislative Funding will Help UNM Health Sciences Center Serve New Mexicans (2024)
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