(L-R) Dr. David Carlisle, president and CEO of CDU and Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (Reel Urban News)

A special event was held on the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) campus recently 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, representative of California’s 64th Assembly District which includes the CDU campus. 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,” said Assemblymember Gipson. “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,” said Dr. Carlisle. “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.

The event began with an opening prayer led by Pastor Marcus Murchinson from the Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. A speech from Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, dean of the College of Medicine, thanked Assemblymember Gipson, the Governor of California and all other supporting government officials for contributing to this initiative. “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 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.

“Let’s celebrate the future of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, an institution that matters to the people,” said Assemblymember Mike Gipson (Reel Urban News)

The facility that will house this program on the CDU campus is expected to be 100,000 GSF and will 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.

As a testament to how this type of program enriches lives, 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.”

The event concluded with Pastor Robert L. Taylor of the Beulah Baptist Church who delivered the closing prayer. Attendees remained afterward for an informal lunch and photo opportunities.

CDU has contributed significantly to the diversity of the nation’s healthcare workforce over the last five decades. More than 70% of the university’s graduates since 2000 are people of color and the California Wellness Foundation report estimated that one-third of all minority physicians practicing in Los Angeles County are graduates of the CDU medical school and/or residency training programs.

To learn more about Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, please visit www.cdrewu.edu.