Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Founding Dean of the CDU MD Program, and Sylvia Drew Ivie, daughter of CDU’s namesake Charles R. Drew, are joined by other CDU staff and faculty for the ribbon cutting marking the official launch of the CDU MD Program.  (Courtesy photo) 



Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) embarked on an extraordinary journey on Monday, July 10, as it welcomed the inaugural cohort of students to its historic MD program.  

The day started with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, held in the newly renovated section of the Cobb Building, that marked the official start of the program and the beginning of an exciting chapter in the university’s legacy.  

The launch of CDU’s MD program carries immense significance, particularly in diversifying the physician workforce. As the first independent four-year medical degree program offered through a historically Black institution west of the Mississippi River, this milestone will pave the way for increased diversity and inclusion within the medical field. 

Graduating 60 diverse and diverse-minded doctors annually starting in 2027, this program aims to address healthcare disparities and foster equitable access to quality care in under-resourced communities.  

CDU MD Program’s inaugural class on the first day of the program, first day of classes. (Courtesy photo)

A notable highlight of the day was the presence of Fesia Davenport, CEO of Los Angeles County. She visited the campus to familiarize the new students with Los Angeles County and Service Planning Area-6 (SPA-6) in which CDU is located.  

“I am delighted to engage with these aspiring doctors who will make a profound impact on our community,” said Davenport. Her visit reaffirmed the collaborative efforts between CDU and the county to enhance healthcare and improve outcomes for the diverse population they serve.   

This first day of the program also included a range of activities and sessions to get the students up to speed. Students had the opportunity to introduce themselves to their classmates, fostering a sense of community from the very beginning.  

The day also featured informative sessions on the history and mission of CDU, a review of the program’s curriculum, and a panel discussion with course directors, providing valuable insights into the MD program’s structure and goals.   

Fesia Davenport, Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles County, visits the CDU campus to address the first cohort of the CDU MD Program and familiarize the students with Service Planning Area-6 of Los Angeles. (Courtesy photo)

Deborah Prothrow-Stith, MD, professor of Internal Medicine and founding dean of the CDU MD Program, emphasized the historic significance of the day.  

“Today, we mark a pivotal moment in the transformation of medical education. CDU’s MD program represents a commitment to training a new generation of physicians who embody diversity, compassion, and social justice,” said Prothrow-Stith. 

A selection of CDU MD Program students react to a presentation from faculty members. (Courtesy photo)

CDU’s MD program represents the 157th medical degree program in the United States and stands as one of only four MD programs offered at a historically black medical school. Its establishment exemplifies CDU’s commitment to academic excellence, community engagement, and addressing the critical health needs of underserved populations.