By Chris Ramirez

Legislative Funding Ensures Continued Growth Across UNM Health & Health Sciences


Anybody who has spent any time on The University of New Mexico’s north campus recently has seen the construction cranes, orange barrels and hundreds of workers building UNM Health and Health Sciences’ much-needed expansion projects.

These new spaces will help UNM treat more patients, train more students and accommodate a growing number of faculty. With new appropriations from the state of New Mexico, more growth is guaranteed for years to come.


I would like to thank the New Mexico legislature and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for their tireless work during this year’s 60-day legislative session. And I extend a special thank you to UNM’s Government Relations Team, who worked around the clock on behalf of our institution to advocate for and secure these funds.
Doug Ziedonis, MD, MPH, EVP of UNM Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System

UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center expansion project


comprehensive cancer center expansion project renderingThe state awarded $5 million to the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center to expand its unique, essential and highly technical treatment options.

The UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center’s mission is to reduce the cancer burden and health disparities in New Mexico’s multi-ethnic populations.  The UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center is New Mexico’s sole provider for many highly specialized cancer services and provides access to innovative cancer clinical trials, new drugs and therapies.

The UNM Center is available to all New Mexicans irrespective of their ability to pay. The state funds will allow it to offer New Mexicans access to several new cancer services and clinical research that are not currently available in New Mexico. The expansion projects include:

  • Construction of a new radiation vault equipped with state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance (MR), real-time, image-guided radiation therapy.
  • Renovation of an existing radiation vault for expanded Radiation Oncology Clinical Services, including Stereotactic Radiosurgery, to meet high patient demand and bring new technologies to New Mexico cancer patients.
  • Construction of a shielded infusion suite for theranostics, a state of the art treatment using intravenous, targeted radioisotopes.
  • Expansion of the Interventional Radiology suite.
  • Expansion of the Cell Processing Laboratory: Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation & Cell-Based Immunotherapies
  • Expansion of the Radiochemistry/Radiopharmacy Laboratory

“We serve the people of New Mexico, and for that reason, we sought and attained our NCI Comprehensive designation,” said Yolanda Sanchez, PhD, Director and CEO of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. “That designation means we continually update our facilities and equipment and improve our cancer treatment and research programs to offer the most advanced cancer treatment options to all New Mexicans.”


Interprofessional Health Simulation Center (IHSC) upgrade


student in healthcare simulationThe state appropriated $5 million to upgrade the IHSC, which provides active learning for health care students to develop skills and techniques through collaboration.

Currently, students have access to 24 clinic rooms, five inpatient skills labs and three acute care simulation labs. In these spaces, students can get accurate clinical experiences by utilizing mannequins with simulated breathing, heartbeats and reactions to medications. The funds for the upgrades will expand the functionality of the existing spaces and will offer a higher level of reality-based simulations for future UNM health care students.

Additionally, more students will be able to use the simulation labs at any given time, which is particularly important since the UNM College of Nursing’s student population is rapidly growing.


Health Sciences Library & Informatics Center (HSLIC) renovation and upgrades


HSLIC lobby renderingThe state funded a renovation to HSLIC’s second floor and updates through the third and fourth floors to improve lighting efficiency to the tune of $2.85 million.

The second floor is the main level and entry point of HSLIC containing the service desk, anatomical models, computer workstations computer lab for teaching and other spaces. The renovation is expected to improve the space to meet students’ needs by adding collaborative workspaces, dedicated technology spaces, and a galley kitchen to improve access to heathy food options for students who spend long hours in the library.

“Today’s health sciences library spaces do not focus on physical books and journal collections; they focus on people,” said Melissa Rethlefsen, MSLS, AHIP, executive director of HSLIC. “We are dedicated to providing optimal and flexible learning spaces for our health sciences students and learners, and with this renovation, we will be able to help students find their own space to succeed.”


Health Sciences research equipment upgrades


The state funded UNM Health Sciences $2.53 million to upgrade and replace outdated research equipment.  As the only academic medical center in New Mexico, the Health Sciences Research Centers are dedicated to pushing forward into uncharted research territory.  At any given time, researchers manage more than 300 clinical trials and 900 major research projects. Through research missions, research partnerships and education programs, UNM Health Sciences strives to create a healthier New Mexico. This work across the spectrum of societal conditions translates into real benefits for New Mexicans.

The funds will replace some equipment that no longer perform up to par. However, the majority of the funds will be used to purchase new equipment that will serve to expand research and education programs in emerging infections and pandemic control, state-of-the-art research, and anatomy dissection. Additionally, some new pieces will assure laboratory safety and increase laboratory storage and processing. Some of the upgrades include:

  • State-of-the-art Human Imaging
    The Anatomage Convertible Table is a dissection simulation table which will provide interactive learning experiences on a virtual platform. The table will provide access, clarity and context to interactive cadaveric anatomy, histology, imaging, and embryology content to learners. The table will provide virtual access to learners who require accommodations for physical, religious, cultural and other reasons.
  • State-of-the-art Brain Therapy
    The Robotics Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Cobot will deliver precision electromagnetic stimulation, modulate brain circuitry, and treat neurobehavioral disorders in humans.
  • Emerging Infections and Pandemic Control
    This equipment will provide increased safety, efficiency, and accuracy for research regarding emerging infections and pandemic control.
  • Laboratory Safety
    This equipment will provide increased safety, efficiency, and accuracy across UNM Health Sciences through water purification and sterilization.


Other legislative funding benefitting UNM Health and Health Sciences


House Bill 2 includes:


  • Includes $139.2 million, or an average of 8.6% ($11.1 million) increase for Instruction & General (I&G) funding and Research and Public Service Projects.
  • Partial funding for faculty and staff pay increases.
  • Significant programmatic increases for nursing programs, physician assistant programs, Office of the Medical Investigator, NM Poison and Drug Information Center, Rural and Urban Underserved Program, Native American Health Student Success Program, Child Psychiatric Center and Project ECHO.
  • $500,000 in nonrecurring funds to support infrastructure for the statewide human papillomavirus Pap registry.
  • Nonrecurring funds for the Higher Education Department statewide initiatives that will support:
    • $20 million for building renewal and replacement statewide, including up to $5 million for demolition of buildings at higher education institution.
    • $10 million for endowed nursing faculty positions statewide.
    • $5 million for public health programs at NMSU and UNM.
    • $55 million to provide matching funds to state research universities to support innovative applied research that advances knowledge and creates new products and production processes in the fields of agriculture, biotechnology, biomedicine, energy, materials science, microelectronics, water resources, aerospace, telecommunications, manufacturing science and similar research areas.
Categories: Comprehensive Cancer Center, News You Can Use, Research, UNM Hospital