Dr. Rahn made his comments during a regular report to the Board of Regents on the progress of expanding medical education in Georgia. He argued that remaining focused on the benefits to human health would move the discussion beyond the nuts and bolts, such as developing a curriculum, of putting together a branch campus in Athens.
"We've got to get above the mundane issues," Dr. Rahn said. "We have to attend to those issues. ... But we've got to keep this higher purpose in mind as we're doing that."
Building a campus in Athens, and the MCG-UGA partnership that would go along with that, would allow researchers to take a broader look at medical and public health problems, he said.
Those issues could be looked at from every level, from the personal genetic flaw that might cause an illness to the societal issues that might contribute to problems such as obesity.
"Our institutions don't contain the ability to do this on their own," Dr. Rahn said. "But we can do this with the right kind of strategic partnership led by the partnership between MCG and UGA."
Dr. Rahn also said the University System of Georgia was still aiming to open an Athens location by fall 2009.
"That's still a very aggressive timeline, with a fallback of fall 2010," he said.