Here in Hawaiʻi, we value our roots.

We remember to honor the past and those who came before us. In the late 1960s, few people could have guessed that Lēʻahi Hospital would become the genesis for a major medical school. However, Governor John A. Burns saw the potential and founded the school, which is named after him. JABSOM’s goals and philosophy reflect the late governor’s public career and vision for Hawaiʻi.

In 1965 the medical school opened with its home base at Lēʻahi Hospital as a two-year program of basic medical sciences, laying the pre-clinical groundwork for students hoping to become physicians. But to realize their professional dreams, the students needed to then apply to and enroll in any of the various accredited medical schools on continental U.S. for the remaining two years of their medical education.
class photo of 1967
First Class, University of Hawaiʻi School of Medicine
September 1967
class photo of 1968
Second Class, University of Hawaiʻi School of Medicine
September 1968
It became the driving passion of deans Windsor Cutting and Terry Rogers to transform the two-year program into a fully accredited four-year school at the University of Hawaiʻi in 1973.

The Hawaiʻi State Legislature showed its commitment to a medical school for the people of Hawaiʻi when it approved using tobacco settlement funds to build and operate the Kakaʻako campus. The site, chosen by Governor Ben Cayetano, opened in 2005. We proudly educate our students and the people of Hawaiʻi about the dangers of tobacco and we treat those suffering from tobacco-related diseases.

In 1992, a Harvard University study identified JABSOM as one of ten leaders in medical education reform. The school was one of the first medical schools in the country to make problem based learning (PBL) its core curricular method.
MD Class of 1975 UH JABSOM
MD Class of 1975 UH JABSOM

JABSOM Research

The University of Hawaiʻi System is committed to being a foremost indigenous-serving institution and advancing sustainability efforts. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is proud to hold the designation of being a land-, sea- space-, and sun-grant institution, one of only four in the nation, and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as an R1: Doctoral Universities – highest research activity. Additionally, the UH Mānoa is an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander and Minority Serving Institution. JABSOM is a Research Centers in Minority Institution (RCMI) Specialized Center (Ola HAWAII) and an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Clinical Translational Research (CTR) Network member through the Center for Pacific Innovation, Knowledge, and Opportunities (PIKO).
jabsom campus buildings

JABSOM houses the largest biomedical research facility in Hawaiʻi and is home to the first clinical department in an accredited medical school in the nation that is focused on health disparities of an indigenous population, Native Hawaiians.

Advanced medical and biomedical research at JABSOM has received international recognition for pioneering work in human fertility, human heredity, comparative genetics, evolution theory, infectious disease, heart disease, metabolic diseases, neurological disorders, aging, mental health, HIV/AIDS, pharmacology, and cross cultural Psychiatry, among other fields. Its work on the better understanding of Hansen’s Disease is part of Hawaiʻi’s legacy to the world. In 1998, JABSOM researcher Dr. Ryuzo Yanagimachi and his team of scientists made history with the announcement of the Honolulu Technique for cloning mice. In 2023, Dr. Yanagimachi was posthumously awarded the prestigious Kyoto Prize laureate for the category of Advanced Technology (Biotechnology and Medical Technology) for “Contributions to the Elucidation of Fertilization Mechanisms and the Establishment of Microinsemination Technology”.

Our research focuses on centers of excellence with collaborative partnerships to address diseases that disproportionately affect our local community.

Read more about the history of JABSOM in 50 Years of Healing in Hawaiʻi.”