University of Kansas Medical Center

John McGrath / Flatland

Four years ago, former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius returned home as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services with a prize the University of Kansas Cancer Center had been seeking for years: certification as a nationally recognized center through the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

But amid the hoopla, KU Cancer Center Director Dr. Roy Jensen declared the NCI designation was “merely a water break and a rest stop” on the way toward earning higher-echelon status from the institute as a “comprehensive” cancer center.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The State of Kansas is now searching for new leadership at its two biggest universities.

Bernadette Gray-Little announced Thursday that she will step down as Chancellor of the University of Kansas next summer. Gray-Little is the 17th KU chancellor and the first woman and first African-American to lead the university.

Her announcement comes as Kansas State University is in the middle of searching for a new president. Kirk Schulz left in June to take over Washington State University. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers is the interim K-State president.

An Alzheimer's diagnosis impacts not just the person who has the disease but their family and friends who take on a caretaking role, as well. Too often, the health and happiness of the supporters is overlooked, to the detriment of everyone involved.


Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s efforts to secure increased funding for the National Institutes of Health has earned him recognition from The Science Coalition.

Yoder convinced more than 100 Republican lawmakers to sign a letter calling for the largest increase in NIH funding since 2003.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

An app on Dr. Roy Jensen’s phone counts down the days until the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s application to be designated "comprehensive" by the National Cancer Institute is due.

“To some extent, comprehensive status is a good conduct medal for things you’re doing,” Jensen, director of the center, says of its quest for the designation, which fewer than 70 cancer centers across the country have.

If it gets it, it’ll be the only comprehensive cancer center in Kansas.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about the University of Kansas Medical Center: For almost 40 years KU doctors have been flying around the state to bring their expertise to small towns.

But in another unintended consequence, budget cuts in Kansas have drastically cut back this service.

About 6:45 a.m. on an already steamy June morning, seven KU Med staffers pile on a twin-engine King Air at the Downtown Kansas City Airport.

Cramped but certainly comfortable, they're about to take off on a 40 minute flight to Hutchinson.

Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Kansas City-area hospitals vary greatly when it comes to the percentage of their doctors who accept money from drug and medical device companies.

The hospital with the highest percentage is Providence Medical Center, where nearly 89 percent of its doctors took such payments in 2014, the last year for which data are available. The hospital with the lowest percentage is Truman Medical Center Lakewood, where only 43.8 percent of its physicians took payments from those industries in 2014.

Alex Smith / KCUR

As the nation grapples with the weekend mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, one of the country’s leading advocates for gun control offered some advice to the state of Kansas.

Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, spoke to health care providers, educators and medical students at the University of Kansas Medical Center on Monday, laying out a proposal to create temporary gun restrictions as a way to reduce gun violence.

He said special considerations are needed when someone is experiencing a crisis and may be at risk for dangerous behavior.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

July 2017 may seem like a long ways away, but when you’re planning to allow guns on college campuses, it might as well be just around the corner.

How Kansas colleges will comply with the law allowing guns on campus while maintaining security is complicated.

But it’s perhaps most complex at the KU Medical Center and the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.

Since Kansas lawmakers passed a bill that would allow almost anyone to carry a concealed gun on college campuses, we've been hearing the arguments against it.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

After three years of providing state funding for a medical research center focused on adult stem cell treatments, Kansas legislators are asking when the center will be financially independent.

Officials from the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center had just presented their annual report Monday when Sen. Jeff Melcher, a Republican from Leawood, asked whether they were seeking “venture funding or any private equity to continue this once the state’s contribution to this research has ended.”

Mike Sherry/Heartland Health Monitor

Found in most parts of the body, adult stem cells have the potential to grow into any of the body's more than 200 cell types, offering potential therapies for a number of diseases.

With scientists throughout Kansas working with adult stem cells, state lawmakers created the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center two years ago to serve as a hub for the stem cell research and treatment in Kansas.

The center is housed at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, and it’s headed by Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn.

Selena Jabara / University of Kansas Medical Center

They wobbled across carpet, braved cracked sidewalks and even scaled a flight of stairs in high heels for the American Medical Women’s Association’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event.

Twenty-six University of Kansas Medical Center students and faculty, all male, strapped on heels and marched a mile around the campus Tuesday, marking the fourth anniversary of Walk-A-Mile. The event raises money to benefit the Rose Brooks Center, a domestic violence shelter, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you’ve driven down State Line Road just north of 39th Street recently, you’ve seen the bustling construction under way. It’s a multi-million dollar addition to the University of Kansas Hospital that will include new beds, department offices and operating rooms.

And right there in the middle of the humming machinery and hard-hatted workers is Linda Mawby’s house.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

When Dr. David Zamierowski was training as a physician in the 1960s, he tried out his new skills on living patients.

“I am so grateful to those poor souls, who knew it was my first time, but graciously allowed me to practice on them,” Zamierowski said Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Kansas Medical Center’s new health education building.

“But in the back of my mind, I always knew there had to be a better way, and when I first saw simulation, I realized that this was the answer.”

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

A spokeswoman for the University of Kansas Medical Center said Thursday the institution will try to protect student education, time-sensitive research and clinical care as the possibility of furloughs approach.

Natalie Lutz, the medical center’s director of communications, said employees of the state’s only medical school will receive notifications by noon Friday telling them whether they have been deemed “nonessential” and are therefore vulnerable to furlough if state lawmakers don’t pass a budget by midnight Saturday.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

For centuries, scientists have looked to artists to help visualize the complexities of the human body. The techniques have changed — from wood engravings and copper plate prints to microscopic photos and digital animation — but the focus on storytelling is the same. It’s a profession known as medical illustration and there’s an effort to cultivate more of it in Kansas City. 

Mixing art with science 

The illustration department at the Kansas City Art Institute is tucked into a former grocery store at 43rd and Oak. At two long tables near the entrance, a handful of students quietly surf the Internet or eat a snack just before the start of a biomedical visualization class.

Three local health sciences schools are partnering to do research on musculoskeletal disorders in what they described as the first collaborative effort of its kind among the three.

HMN Architects and Pixel Foundry


Olathe Medical Center on Friday announced the largest expansion in the hospital’s six-decade history, a cradle-to-grave project that calls for new buildings for obstetrics and patients with dementia.

With an estimated price tag of more than $100 million, including buildings and equipment, the project also calls for construction of a new cancer center and expansion of the hospital’s cardiovascular center.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Right before James “Jimmy” Bowers died in 1995, his local dive, Jimmy's Jigger, was bought by a local restaurateur who converted it to a New Orleans-style food and drink joint called Jazz. The company preserved the booze-soaked wooden floor and bar and brought in live music seven nights a week.

Like "The Jigger," as it was called, Jazz remains a hangout for staff and students from KU Medical Center across State Line.

Jazz manager Marty Elton says the relationship with the hospital always has been — and continues to be — essential.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The University of Kansas Hospital and University of Kansas Medical Center run along State Line Road adjacent to Kansas City, Missouri's Volker neighborhood. A tight-knit few blocks, where students unwind in neighborhood bars and long-time homeowners chat while walking dogs.

The institution is growing, and like many "town and gown" situations, the expansion has created some challenges.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service



In the last two years Seth Nutt has traveled to nearly every corner of Kansas, introducing rural students to health care professionals.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Making the rounds at a public housing complex in Kansas City, Kan., community health worker Rinzin Wangmo is greeted by cheery voices and faces.

As she enters a home, the heavy aroma of chopped onions stings her nose, and she hurries up a short flight of stairs to escape the burn. After gently knocking on a door, she walks in to meet with a woman who’s bedridden with pain. 

The woman’s condition is not unusual among Bhutanese refugees, according to University of Kansas professor Dr. Joe LeMaster.

University of Kansas Hospital

When Steve Jobs needed a liver transplant in 2009, the Apple CEO left California and went to Memphis, Tenn. While his home state has some of the longest waiting lists in the country for donated livers, Tennessee has some of the shortest.

Many health advocates point to Jobs’ story as an example of the harsh disparities faced by those who need new livers in different parts of the country.

Plans are in the works to fix those disparities, but some Kansas City doctors worry about what a shake-up would mean for local hospitals and patients.

Stefani Fontana / KCUR

It’s a form of dementia that afflicts as many as 5.2 million people in the United States. It has no cure.

And as the population ages, the number of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to quadruple over the next 35 years, according to a study from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

That means that by 2050, 1 in 85 people will be living with the disease.

Wikimedia / CC

Kraig Moore is one of the patients helping test experimental cancer treatments through a clinical trials program operated by the Wichita-based Cancer Center of Kansas. The 47-year-old psychologist, who also operates a bed-and-breakfast near Mulvane, Kan., was diagnosed last January with stage 3b metastatic malignant melanoma.

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

 A $25 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation has generated the funds needed by the University of Kansas to move forward with a critical building project on its medical center campus.

The gift, announced Tuesday at the University of Kansas Medical Center,  gives the university most of the $75 million needed to construct a new medical education building. The new facility will replace an aging building that doesn’t meet modern classroom standards and needs more than $5 million in repairs.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced bonding authority Monday morning to help fund the construction of a new University of Kansas Medical Center education building.

The funding comes as part of a school funding measure the governor signed into law Monday afternoon. The measure was approved by lawmakers on April 6.

The bonds will raise $25 million of the $75 million needed to construct the building.

Phil Cauthon / KHI News Service

The chairman of the Kansas Senate’s budget writing committee Wednesday defended the panel’s recent decision to withhold state funding for a new classroom building at the University of Kansas Medical School.

Sen. Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, said he’s not convinced the university needs additional state funding to construct the building on its medical school campus in Kansas City, Kan.

Masterson said KU has the resources to complete the project if it’s the priority that university officials say that it is.

The University of Kansas Medical Center will create a new center to help those with multiple sclerosis improve their physical and emotional health as well as lifestyle.

KU announced Wednesday morning that an $800,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation would help fund the project.

A former day care facility at 3503 Rainbow Blvd. will be renovated to house the new Comprehensive Center for Multiple Sclerosis Care.

The new center will serve between 100 and 125 participants weekly.

The legislative committee charged with overseeing state building projects today added money to next year’s budget to help the University of Kansas fund construction of a $75 million classroom building on its Kansas City, Kan. campus.

The Joint Committee on State Building Construction voted to add $1.4 million to the fiscal 2015 budget to help pay for bonds that will be issued to fund the project.  The plan is for the state to contribute $15 million over time to help finance up to $35 million in construction bonds.