March 26, 2020 —
Featured photo: Dr. Mark Hiraoka and Dr. Santosh Sharma. Vina Cristobal photo.
Written by Vina Cristobal
The Department of OB/GYN and Women’s Health (University Health Partners of Hawaii Women’s Health Specialists) has another reason to celebrate.
On March 2, Department of OB/GYN and Women’s Health (UHP Women Health Specialists) chair Dr. Ivica Zalud honored Dr. Mark Hiraoka as the Lakshmi Devi and Devraj Sharma Endowed Chair. The endowment is a $2 million gift that was granted to the department via the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation.
The announcement was made during a faculty meeting at the department’s administrative office, located at the Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
This is the second endowed chair made by professor emeritus Dr. Santosh Sharma, who retired from the department in 2005, but continues to make generous contributions to JABSOM and to the department of OB/GYN.
Dr. Hiraoka, who is the OB/GYN Residency Program Director and an Associate Professor under JABSOM and University Health Partners of Hawaii, was honored to receive the endowment from Dr. Santosh Sharma, who mentored him.
“When I came back and became faculty here, she was one of my mentors along with Dr. Lori Kamemoto,” said Dr, Hiraoka, a JABSOM 1997 graduate. “[Dr. Santosh Sharma] took me under her wing and mentored me through so that I could take over the cervical disease and vulvar disease clinic that she and Dr. Kamemoto started from scratch. So I’m always going to be indebted to her for that.”
The endowed chairmanship pays tribute to Dr. Santosh Sharma’s parents, Lakshmi Devi and Devraj, who persistently encouraged their daughter to receive an education.
This endowment will be used to develop a program that would help homeless, pregnant and poor immigrant patients, those with addictions and in rural areas, and extend the medical school’s reach to the Neighbor Islands. Dr. Hiraoka has previous experience in doing so, bringing medical students and residents to the Neighbor Islands for rotations, as well as serving the underserved in areas within Leeward Oahu. With this endowed position, Dr. Hiraoka hopes to continue the same legacy that Dr. Santosh Sharma began.
“It’s a very touching thing to be part of the endowment so now I can use it to hopefully push the department’s mission of serving the underserved,” he said.