Yeshiva U. Sheds Burden of Albert Einstein Medical School — But at What Cost?

'Crown Jewel' of Modern Orthodox Flagship Is Gone

Model Med School: Albert Einstein checks out scale model of Yeshiva University’s medical school in the Bronx. He is flanked by Yeshiva University president, Samuel Belkin (left) and New York’s attorney general, Nathaniel Goldstein.
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Model Med School: Albert Einstein checks out scale model of Yeshiva University’s medical school in the Bronx. He is flanked by Yeshiva University president, Samuel Belkin (left) and New York’s attorney general, Nathaniel Goldstein.

By Paul Berger

Published May 27, 2014.
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The high-rise buildings of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and of Montefiore Medical Center dominate Morris Park, a leafy neighborhood of one and two family working class and middle class homes in the Bronx.

Today, Einstein is renowned as a research intensive medical school. The latest addition to Einstein’s campus is an elegant, modernist $220 million research building, the Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine and Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion.

When Spiegel took over as dean of Einstein in 2006, he inherited a large budget surplus. Since then, he has presided over a series of major investments, including the hiring of 140 new faculty members and the opening of the Price-Block building in 2008.

In U.S. News & World Report’s latest rankings of America’s medical research schools, Einstein ranked 34th out of 128 schools.

Einstein’s website cites recent “key advances” its faculty has made in the treatment of breast cancer, lymphoma, gout, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and drug-resistant tuberculosis.

But all that research comes at a cost.

In a March 2014 report, Moody’s noted that the Price Center-Block Pavilion increased Einstein’s fixed costs for facilities, research and equipment.

Einstein can never fully recover the expense of research, including space, startup labs and administrative costs.

Most of its research grants are from the National Institutes of Health, which has faced uncertainty in recent years because of cutbacks in federal spending.

A December 2013 analysis published by S&P noted that “Y.U. projects declining revenue over the next few years based on expected declines in federal allocations to NIH and increased competition for grants.”

During the past two years, according to Y.U.’s audited financial statements, the school’s total grant funding fell sharply, to $205 million in 2013 from $243 million in 2012.

A faculty member at Einstein said the medical school’s problems had been compounded by accounting software that was recently introduced across Y.U.

The faculty member said that the software, called Banner, had been “a nightmare” for those who rely to a great degree on grant funding.

The faculty has had a difficult time maintaining “a coherent accounting of the grant revenue stream and where all the grant money has been going,” the faculty member said.

“I know personally that when my grant comes up, we go round in circles trying to work out how to get [the] errors in Banner fixed,” the faculty member added. “It’s been a big problem.”


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