Prince William County will pay $50,000 to kick-off a study of the feasibility of a medical school at George Mason University’s science campus near Manassas.
The Claude Moore Foundation has contributed $200,000 and Mason will cover the remaining costs and conduct the study, with preliminary results anticipated in early fall, according to a news release.
The impetus for the study is driven by accelerated growth in the healthcare industry in the County, according to Ginny Person, spokesperson for the county’s Department of Economic Development. That’s evidenced most recently in Kaiser Permanente’s growing footprint in Haymarket and Woodbridge, as well as Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s continued expansion and the Novant Health UVA Health System merger, Person said.
Last year, the county’s Targeted Industry Study reaffirmed it as a choice location for various medical and health care fields.
“The benefits of a university-research based medical school here in Prince William County are profound,” said Corey Stewart, chair of the Board of County Supervisors. “It will not only increase educational opportunities and high-wage jobs for our residents, thereby further strengthening our talent pipeline, but it will be a significant move forward in leveraging the synergistic business opportunities that already exist here.”
Mason’s campus in Prince William County already has a pre-med program with available laboratories and the classroom space needed to meet Mason’s goal of accreditation by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia in 2021, at the earliest.
An initial assessment by Mason estimated a first year medical school class of 30-50 students and the engagement of 50-70 faculty. The study will define the needed investments and prospective sources of funding, as well as establish the clinical networks necessary to support the medical school.
“This is an important initiative that supports our mission of cultivating a robust economy, driving innovation for our existing and new businesses and achieving more economic opportunities that provide quality jobs,” said Chris Price, the county’s interim executive director for economic development.
The Prince William County Department of Economic Development staff will further aid the study by providing strategic plans, industry analyses, as well as, engage with Mason to identify service linkages and alignments within the life science, health, information technology and related industries.