A special event was held on the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) campus Monday to commemorate the recent $50 million allocation from the State of California to the University. The event was highlighted by a check presentation from Watts native Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-64). Dr. David Carlisle, president and CEO of CDU, along with other representatives and students from the university were on hand for the presentation.
“It gives me great pleasure to demonstrate our commitment to this great institution of higher learning with this check of $50 million,” Gipson said. “Let’s celebrate the future of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, an institution that matters to the people.”
The funding, which was approved by the California State Legislature will be used to support the university’s latest initiative offering a new four-year medical degree program which includes the construction of a new building to accommodate it. The overall impact of the proposed new medical education program that is pending review and approval by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education will benefit the state by increasing the number of Black and Latino medical graduates joining the healthcare workforce, with the first class slated to begin in Fall 2023.
“CDU believes in the ability of education advocacy and empowerment to change lives and create opportunities,” Carlisle said. “I stand a little bit prouder as we gather to acknowledge and celebrate one of this university’s most significant funding awards to date, a one-time $50 million allocation from the state of California to support our new four-year medical degree program.”
CDU was originally founded in 1966 to better serve underprivileged residents in the area and the funding signifies a new chapter for the university, which 55 years ago graduated nurses who went on to serve the Watts community. Today, as a Historically Black Graduate Institution (HBGI), the university’s graduates go on to serve communities across the nation. The new program is expected to educate 60 students annually.
“When the dreams of a people get matched with competent and effective elected officials, you get to celebrate because reality becomes that dream,” Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, dean of the College of Medicine, noted. “I thank you and all of those who helped put this together for us.”
The funding signifies the next phase for CDU’s growth as an independent, four-year medical institution. Currently, CDU shares a longstanding relationship with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA through the Charles R. Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program, which has successfully trained 28 medical students annually since 1979. The incoming program at CDU pending review and approval by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education will be the next phase in evolving that partnership.
The facility that will house this program on the CDU campus is expected to have classrooms, virtual and standard anatomy laboratories, staff and faculty offices, as well as common spaces for all students in the university’s three schools and colleges. Construction is scheduled to begin Summer/Fall 2022.
Felisha Eugenio gave a first-hand look at how the current curriculum impacted her career. Now a CDU Doctor of Medicine resident, she emphasized how CDU played a vital role in changing her life.
“My roots here at CDU began long before residency, I am a product of its pipelines. I first began attending and then volunteering at what was once the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center across the street. After college, I was a student in the post-baccalaureate program here before matriculating into the Charles R. Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program. So I would not be the physician I am today without the unwavering support of Dr. Daphne Calmes and the amazing team at our medical school,” said Eugenio. “CDU’s commitment to diversity is not only evident in its educational programs but by the makeup of its student body and educators.”