Charles R. Drew
University of Medicine and Science
MottoA Private University with a Public Mission
TypePrivate university
Academic affiliation
PresidentDavid M. Carlisle
Students543 (Fall 2017)[1]
United States
11 acres (4.5 ha)

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science is a private university in Willowbrook, California, focused on health sciences. It was founded in 1966 in response to inadequate medical access within the Watts region of Los Angeles, California.[2] The university is named in honor of Charles R. Drew.


Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School was incorporated in the State of California as a private, nonprofit educational institution in 1966[3] in response to the McCone Commission's recommendations to improve access to healthcare in South Los Angeles following the Watts Riots in 1965.[4][5] In 1973, Governor Ronald Reagan signed Senate Bill 1026 authored by State Senator Mervyn Dymally to allocate funding and support for the institution from the General Fund to the University of California.[6] In January 1970, the offices of the Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School and the Watts-Willowbrook Regional Medical program formally opened at 12012 Compton Avenue,[7] and would serve as the central center for CDU's operations until the W.M. Cobb Building's construction in 1984.[citation needed]

Three schools and colleges are housed on CDU's 11-acre campus: the College of Science and Health, the College of Medicine and the Mervyn M. Dymally College of Nursing (MMDCON).

In May 1978, a proposed agreement between the Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School and the UCLA School of Medicine to jointly establish an undergraduate medical program at Drew was approved.[8] Medical students complete their first two years of medical school at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, then finish their last two years of clinical work at Charles R. Drew University, including rotations at the Martin Luther King Jr Outpatient Center as well as local community clinics near the Charles R. Drew University campus.[9]

The Mervyn M. Dymally College of Nursing opened in 2010.[10] The school was the first comprehensive nursing program to open in Southern California in decades, and the first ever of its kind in South Los Angeles.[11]

In 2010, the university introduced the Community Faculty Track, a unique model for community-academic partnerships in which community leaders are integrated into the university's research goals and the education of medical professionals.[12][13]

In 2018, the school partnered with Ross University School of Medicine, a for-profit medical school in Barbados, to educate doctors for South Los Angeles, since Charles R. Drew University typically receives more than 3,000 medical school applications, but only has space for 28 medical students each year.[14]

In September 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies made a $100 million donation to the four historically black medical schools in existence in the United States: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Meharry Medical College, the Morehouse School of Medicine, and Howard University College of Medicine.[15][16]

In February 2022, MacKenzie Scott made a $20 million, unrestricted donation to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the largest private donation in the university's history.[17][18]

In July 2023, the university accepted its first class of 60 medical students in a new MD program that is independent of the existing joint program with UCLA (which accepts at most 28 students).[19][20] Full LCME accreditation for the program will be possible after the first class of 60 students has graduated from CDU.[21]


Mitchell Spellman[22] 1968–1977
David Satcher[23] 1977–1979
M. Alfred Haynes[24] 1979–1986
Walter F. Leavell[25] 1986–1987
Henry Williams[26] 1987–1991
Reed V. Tuckson 1991–1997
W. Benton Boone 1997–1998
Charles K. Francis[27] 1998–2004
Harry E. Douglas[28] 2004–2005
Thomas Yoshikawa[29] 2005–2006
Susan Kelly 2006–2009
Keith C. Norris[30] 2009–2010
M. Roy Wilson[31] 2010–2011
David M. Carlisle[32] 2011–present


The university offers degrees in three colleges:


Research at CDU focuses on ways to address health disparities within the state of California, nationally, and globally. Research is organized around several health pillars, including cancer, cardiometabolic disease, HIV, mental health, and health services/health policy research. Research areas such as biostatistics and biomedical informatics cut across the five research pillars. In addition, the university has a Black Maternal Health Center of Excellence,[33] to address the crisis in health outcomes for Black mothers in the US, partially funded by a $9 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant.

Faculty members at CDU conduct ongoing NIH and DoD-funded research on conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, tobacco use and HIV/AIDs.[34][35] The university's Department of Research and Health Affairs was initially established as the Office of Research in 1973 to organize the assignment of research activities at the institution and provide a focus for encouraging faculty participation in laboratory activities.[36][37]

Physician Assistant program

The Physician Assistant program at the Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School (now "CDU") began as MEDEX in 1971.[38] It was one of the first MEDEX programs to open in the state of California.[39]

MEDEX students at Drew received their instruction from physician faculty at UCLA until March 1973, when they moved to what was then known as the Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital in Watts.[38] The physician assistant program, which was originally an undergraduate program, returned to the university in August 2016 as a master’s degree granting program after a five-year closure period that began in 2011.[39]

Residency programs

In September 2017, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $800,000 to CDU to fund two residency training programs in Family Medicine and Psychiatry.[40] The funds were made available through a Pre-Medical School Affiliation Agreement signed between L.A. County and CDU in October 2017.[41] A Medical School Affiliation Agreement between L.A. County Health Agency and CDU provides the programs with support of up to $14.6 million until 2023.[41] Residents began their programs in Family Medicine and Psychiatry in July 2018,[42] meaning that the university offered residency training as part of its curriculum for the first time since the closure of the former King-Drew Medical Center, and consequently the university's own training programs, in 2007.[43][44]


CDU is recognized as a minority-serving institution by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights,[45] as well as a historically black graduate institution under the U.S. Department of Education's Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions Program, also known as Title III B.[46] CDU is also a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities[47] and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.[48]

The university is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. In 2009, its accreditor placed the university on probation;[49] it was removed from probation two years later.[50][51] Programs at the university are also accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission[52] and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.[53]

Association with Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital

Main article: Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital

Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital closed in 2007.[54] Both the university, which is private, and associated County-owned public hospital fell into serious trouble at the outset of the 21st century.[28] By 2006, several residency programs had to be terminated because they lost accreditation for not meeting the necessary amount of oversight, and the hospital itself was forced into a radical restructuring plan in late 2006.[55] The restructuring caused the County-owned hospital to sever its ties to the neighboring private, non-profit medical school and terminate support to 248 medical residents.[56] In October 2006, the national Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education informed school officials that it planned to revoke the university's ACGME accreditation because of the hospital's upcoming loss of Medicare money; as a result the university voluntarily withdrew its accreditation.[55] The school was eligible to seek reinstatement to relaunch its residency program in July 2008. As a response to the problems, the university reorganized, terminating its president, and dismissed nearly two-thirds of its board of trustees.[55]

On March 6, 2007, officials from the university announced that they would sue Los Angeles County for $125 million for breach of contract, claiming that the restructuring of the hospital gutted the adjacent university.[56] In September 2009, the lawsuit was settled with an agreement under which the county would rent space to the university on favorable terms and the county and university would work together toward the reopening of MLK Hospital.[57]

In June 2007, the school began an 18-month rebranding effort aimed at preventing people from associating the school with the continuing ordeals of King-Harbor; the school criticized the hospital for leaving an old sign bearing the King/Drew name.[55]

Notable faculty

Notable past and present Charles R. Drew University faculty members include Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist and the first black female doctor to receive a medical patent, for inventing a laser treatment for cataracts [58] and Deborah Prothrow-Stith, a pioneer in addressing youth violence as a public health issue and the first woman Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Prothrow-Stith is Professor of Internal Medicine and current Dean of the College of Medicine.[59]

See also


  1. ^ "The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System".
  2. ^ "University Bulletin: A Weekly Bulletin for the Staff of the University of California". Office of Official Publications, University of California. 1977.
  3. ^ Fortney, Albert Jr. (15 January 2016). The Fortney Encyclical Black History: The World's True Black History. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781514433614.
  4. ^ Dawsey, Darrell (8 July 1990). "25 Years After the Watts Riots : McCone Commission's Recommendations Have Gone Unheeded". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Violence in the City (McCone Commission Report on Watts Riot: 1965". 2017.
  6. ^ "Bill Text – SR-43".
  7. ^ "Medical School Dedicated" (PDF). Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. No. 24 January 1970.
  8. ^ "University Bulletin: A Weekly Bulletin for the Staff of the University of California, Volume 26". University of California. 1977.
  9. ^ "Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program trains students to care for underserved communities – David Geffen School of Medicine – Los Angeles, CA". 31 January 2017. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  10. ^ Lin II, Rong-Gong (15 August 2010). "Drew University's new nursing school opens under financial cloud". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ "Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science Plans $43 Million Bond Offering for New Life Sciences Research, Nursing Education Building in South Los Angeles". GlobeNewswire News Room (Press release). 13 November 2007.
  12. ^ del Pino, Homero (2016). "Integrating Community Expertise into the Academy: South Los Angeles' Community-Academic Model for Partnered Research". Progress in Community Health Partnerships. 10 (2): 329–38. doi:10.1353/cpr.2016.0028. PMC 5201428. PMID 27346780.
  13. ^ Smith, Doug (1 December 2018). "Loretta Jones, who fought for better healthcare in L.A.'s inner city, dies at 77". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ Bartholomew, Dana (12 September 2019). "Charles Drew University Inks Agreement to Educate More Doctors for South L.A". LA Business Journal.
  15. ^ Merced, Michael J. de la; Sorkin, Andrew Ross (2020-09-03). "Michael Bloomberg gives $100 million to historically Black medical schools". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-03-03.
  16. ^ "Opinion: To save Black lives, we need more Black doctors". CNN.
  17. ^ "Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Donates $20 Million To South LA's Charles Drew University". CBS Los Angeles.
  18. ^ "MacKenzie Scott donates $20M to Charles R. Drew University in South LA". FoxLA.
  19. ^ Karlamangla, Soumya (2023-09-13). "Charles Drew University in South Los Angeles Starts Its Own Medical School". The New York Times. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  20. ^ "Charles R. Drew University welcomes first class of students to medical program". CBS News. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  21. ^ Evans, Marissa (2022-10-18). "Charles Drew University approved to start medical degree program". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  22. ^ "Dr. Mitchell Spellman's accomplished life rooted in local soil".
  23. ^ "The Honorable Dr. David Satcher's Biography". The HistoryMakers.
  24. ^ "President Emeritus and Former Dean of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Dr. M. Alfred Haynes, Dies at Age 94". Los Angeles Sentinel. 24 February 2016.
  25. ^ "Leavell Named Prexy of Drew Med School". Jet Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. 9 February 1987.
  26. ^ Scott, Janny (7 August 1991). "Advocate for Poor May Head Medical College in Watts". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ "Charles K. Francis". Jet Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. 13 July 1998.
  28. ^ a b Tracy Weber et al., The Troubles at King/Drew (5 part series), Los Angeles Times, December 2004, Accessed Sept. 26, 2006.
  29. ^ "Drew Medical School Alters Its Leadership". Los Angeles Times. 6 July 2005.
  30. ^ Bloomekatz, Ari B. (7 June 2009). "At Charles Drew, students overcome obstacles to graduate". Los Angeles Times.
  31. ^ "SYMPOSIUM SPEAKER: M. Roy Wilson".
  32. ^ Lin II, Rong-Gong (4 May 2011). "Struggling Drew University names David M. Carlisle new president". LA Times Blogs – L.A. NOW.
  33. ^ "Black Maternal Health Center of Excellence". Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  34. ^ "Champion Provider Success Story: Dr. Theodore Friedman". Champion Provider Fellowship. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  35. ^ "CDU Researcher Secures $1.95 Million in Funding from NIH to Increase and Speed Up Diabetic Retinopathy Detections". Los Angeles Sentinel. 2016-10-13. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  36. ^ "The Drew Employee Newsletter (July 1981)" (PDF).
  37. ^ "CDU News – Legacy of CDU" (PDF). Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  38. ^ a b "The Physician's Assistant in California" (PDF). California Physician Assistant Board. November 1974. p. 23.
  39. ^ a b "PA Program Profile: Charles R. Drew University". Physician Assistant Education Association. 30 November 2016.
  40. ^ "County Board of Supervisors vote to fund new medical programs at Charles R. Drew University". Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  41. ^ a b "Delegations of authority for a medical school affiliation agreement between the county of los angeles and charles r. drew university of medicine and science and related actions (2nd and 4th districts) (3 votes)" (PDF). Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  42. ^ Haywood, Cory Alexander (12 July 2018). "More doctors earn residency at Drew University in Watts". Our Weekly. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  43. ^ Devall, Cheryl (13 July 2011). "Charles Drew medical school released from probation". Southern California Public Radio.
  44. ^ Nazario, Patricia (7 September 2010). "New opportunities ahead for Charles Drew University". Southern California Public Radio.
  45. ^ "OCR: Accredited Postsecondary Minority Institutions".
  46. ^ "Eligibility – Title III Part B, Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions Program". 21 June 2011.
  47. ^ "Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities – Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science".
  48. ^ "Member Schools". Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
  49. ^ "WASC Senior". Archived from the original on 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  50. ^ "Charles R. Drew University removed from academic probation". Los Angeles Times. 13 July 2011.
  51. ^ "Troubled Los Angeles Medical School Gets Some Good News: It's Off Probation". Chronicle of Higher Education. 13 July 2011.
  52. ^ "CHARLES R. DREW UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE AND SCIENCE Single Audit Report" (PDF). Health Resources and Services Administration. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  53. ^ "CCNE-Accredited Nursing Degree Programs".
  54. ^ Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber and Jack Leonard (August 11, 2007). "King-Harbor fails final check, will close soon". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  55. ^ a b c d Tiffany Hsu, University official stresses campus isn't King-Harbor, Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2007.
  56. ^ a b Susannah Rosenblatt, Medical school to sue L.A. County, Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2007.
  57. ^ Therolf, Garrett (September 11, 2009). "Medical school drops $125-million suit against L.A. County over King/Drew closure". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  58. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (4 June 2019). "Dr. Patricia Bath, 76, Who Took On Blindness and Earned a Patent, Dies". The New York Times.
  59. ^ "Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith". National Library of Medicine.

33°55′32″N 118°14′33″W / 33.925634°N 118.242594°W / 33.925634; -118.242594