UH Med Now
Visionary former University of Hawaii medical school dean Edwin Cadman, MD dies at 70
Edwin C. Cadman, MD
(Corvallis, Oregon) The Cadman family requests that those wishing to make donations contribute to the Dr. Edwin C. Cadman Endowed Fund for the Study of Neurodegenerative Disorders.
Dr. Edwin C. Cadman, former dean of the University of Hawai’i Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), died at 5:45 on Wednesday morning, September 23, at the age of 70, surrounded by his family in Corvallis, Oregon. Many people across Hawai’i and the United States will join those at JABSOM in mourning his loss.
Dr. Cadman arrived at Hawai’i’s medical school in 1999 at a critical time, leaving his post as Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at Yale New Haven Hospital for a much bigger challenge.
Dean Cadman inspired faculty and students “to be the best medical school in the world with an Asia-Pacific focus,” and he led JABSOM’s physical and academic renaissance. “We must really believe that we can become great,” said Cadman. To be great, Dr. Cadman knew the medical school need its own campus and a robust research program.
Dr. Cadman allied with then-Governor Ben Cayetano, who suggested a state parcel in Kakaʻako for the new campus.
“I took Dr. Cadman up to the tenth floor of the Gold Bond Building,” Cayetano told author Larry Fleece this past summer for the book The John A. Burns School of Medicine: 50 Years of Healing. “That’s where the Hawaiʻi Community Development Corporation was,” Cayetano said. “And I took him to the window, and I pointed down to the space toward the beach in Kakaʻako, and I said,‘Doc’ – that’s what I called him – ‘Doc, that’s where your new medical school will be!’ He was overjoyed.”
In return for the promise of a new medical school, Gov. Cayetano said he asked just one simple favor of Dr. Cadman. “I said, ‘We build the school for you, you can’t leave!’” Cayetano recalls. “He promised me he wouldn’t leave – and he said, ‘Governor, this will be my life’s last work.’”
It was Dr. Cadman’s last work.
In 2005, Dr. Cadman stepped down as dean after learning that he suffered from Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), a rare degenerative condition that robs those it strikes of the ability to articulate thoughts in speech or writing. There is no cure for PPA. Dr. Cadman retired from UH on October 31, 2009. On October 29, 2009, JABSOM faculty, students, staff and Hawaiʻi business and political leaders gathered in a ceremony at the Kakaʻako campus to honor him.
“As the driving force behind the creation of the new facilities in Kakaʻako, Dean Cadman envisioned a school that in only five years under his leadership would experience unprecedented growth in biomedical research,” said Dr. Jerris Hedges, who succeeded Dr. Cadman as Dean of JABSOM. “I was honored to follow his lead and to build on the contributions to the medical school that were made by him and others who came before him.”
Dr. Cadman’s legacy at JABSOM is a research enterprise that brought $58 million in external funds to the State of Hawai’i in the past fiscal year, and this past March (2015) was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the 19th best medical school in the country for its primary care training. A native of Bandon, Oregon, Dr. Cadman graduated from Stanford University in 1967, and the (now) Oregon Health Sciences University medical school in 1971. He completed his Residency training in Medicine at Stanford and a Fellowship in Oncology at Yale. Before his JABSOM years, he served as Chair of Medicine/Oncology at the University of California at San Francisco, becoming the first Chair of its Cancer Research Institute, before moving to New Haven, Connecticut to become Chair and Professor of Medicine at Yale University. He was a competitive runner, completing numerous marathons and running in races on both coasts of the United States.
Dr. Cadman’s Legacy in Hawai’i
The Cadman family requests that those who want to make a donation in Dr. Cadman’s honor do so by contributing to the University of Hawai’i Foundation’s Dr. Edwin C. Cadman Endowed Fund for the Study of Neurodegenerative Disorders.
Dr. Cadman is survived by his mother Gloria Wilson, his first wife Mary Cadman and second wife Katherine Nichols; three brothers, three sons, and four grandchildren.
No plans have been announced yet for memorial services for Dr. Cadman.
By Tina Shelton