In addition to being declared a national leader because of its problem-based curriculum, the world set its sights on the John A. Burns School of Medicine in 1998 when Dr. Ryuzo Yanagimachi and his team of scientists developed what is now called the Honolulu Technique for cloning mice.
The John A. Burns School of Medicine was established in 1965 at Leʻahi Hospital on the slopes of Diamond Head near Waikīkī as a two-year program of basic medical sciences for students hoping to enroll in various medical schools on the mainland United States for the remaining two years of medical school. In 1971, the school moved to the newly constructed Biomedical Sciences Building in Mānoa. In 1973, the Hawaii State Legislature made it possible for the school to expand its scope and become a four-year degree granting program. In 1975, the school's first class of sixty-two graduated with medical doctor degrees. About 50% of the practicing physicians in Hawaiʻi are graduates of the school or its residency program.
Former Governor of Hawaiʻi Benjamin J. Cayetano and former University of Hawaiʻi President Evan Dobelle presided over the groundbreaking of the new John A. Burns School of Medicine campus on Ilalo Street bounded by Kakaʻako Gateway Park, Kakaʻako Waterfront Park and Fort Armstrong at the Waterfront near downtown Honolulu. The US $150 million complex features technologically advanced medical facilities, rivaling those of renowned medical institutions around the world. The Medical Education Building opened to the first class to enter the new school in the spring of 2005. In the fall of that year the 1,840,000 square feet (171,000 m2) Research Building opened. The dedication and grand opening of the campus was led by interim Dean T. Samuel Shomaker on September 30, 2005, with many dignitaries, including Governor Linda Lingle, and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Dean of the School of Medicine is currently Jerris R. Hedges, MD, MS, MMM, who was appointed in March 2008.