Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More issues at Jersey's UMDNJ

Further to a post on IPBiz, there are still more problems at New Jersey's UMDNJ.

Josh Margolin reported in the July 28 Star-Ledger:

A proposed $2.5 million marketing campaign to spruce up the image of the state's scandal-plagued medical university was killed yesterday, after the governor's office questioned the timing of an advertising blitz after extensive layoffs and program cuts at the troubled school.

The television and print campaign, which officials said was to begin sometime after Labor Day, was aimed at repairing the badly tarnished reputation of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey -- which has been the focus of a continuing federal criminal investigation into fraud, waste and financial abuses.

Governor Corzine's chief counsel Stuart Rabner asked the campaign to stop. Rabner's order came after The Star-Ledger asked the governor's office to comment on the proposed media campaign. Rabner declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Gov. Jon Corzine.

The Star-Ledger continued:

The new plan was to resurrect elements of that plan, in a so-called "repositioning and rebranding campaign" to highlight UMDNJ's research, aimed at attracting researchers, students and patients to the university's clinical services and its teaching hospital. It included many of the television commercials and print advertisements that had already been produced before the lid had been put on the original marketing effort, officials said.

After a year of turmoil, UMDNJ's problems continue. The university remains under the oversight of a federal monitor after it was charged with Medicaid fraud in December. One of its trustees has been accused of ethical lapses by seeking employment for a relative, and dozens of dental students were charged with cheating earlier this year.

In assessing New Jersey's efforts in attracting stem cell researchers, one has to view this sub-story of the problems of UMDNJ. New Jersey will have to try harder, because the baseline is lower. New Jersey taxpayers should not be keen on thrusting money into the hands of inept, corrupt managers.

Somewhat foreseeably, the stem cell issue has been injected into the NJ Senate race.

The Star-Ledger reported:

"The science of stem cell research holds tremendous potential and is developing at a spectacular pace," Republican Tom Kean Jr. said. "In all forms of stem cell research, I see great promise to heal."

Democrats accused Kean of "an election-year conversion" and pointed out that as a state lawmaker Kean has three times voted against bills to create a state-funded Stem Cell Research Institute.

"Three strikes and he's out," said Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex), who has pushed for legislation to build a stem cell research center based at Rutgers University. "Actions speak louder than words and Tom's voting record says it all."

Kean said he has never voted against funding for stem cell research, but has voted several times against borrowing money to build a research center.

IPBiz notes that, contrary to reports in certain newspapers, New Jersey has NEVER authorized funding to build stem cell research centers, OR to fund their operation. The last version of the Senate bill had funding for three different sites, including one at scandal-plagues UMDNJ.


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