Sutter Health partners with Charles R. Drew University providing $7.5 Million for  scholarships and research

(Left) Leon Clark, vice president and chief academic affairs officer at Sutter Health, and (right) Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, dean and professor at the College of Medicine at Charles R. Drew University.

Sutter Health and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) have joined forces to create a more equitable healthcare experience in California. The partnership includes two significant initiatives. Sutter Health has invested $7.5 million to fund one of the largest scholarship programs in CDU’s history, providing five full-tuition scholarships across five cohorts, totaling 25 scholarships, to widen pathways for diverse physicians. They have also launched the Health Equity Alliance for Research & Evaluation (HEARE) to accelerate health equity research into clinical practice. 

”This unique collaboration marks a significant step toward building a more equitable health care system in California,” said Dr. David M. Carlisle, president and CEO of Charles R. Drew University. Carlisle also state that this announcement is just the beginning of their work to “clear paths for medical education, enhanced clinical care, robust research and improved community health.”

Charles R. Drew University was founded in 1966 in response to inadequate medical access within the Watts region of Los Angeles, California. CDU is the only federally designated historically black institution west of Texas, and with nearly a quarter of its inaugural class being Latino and half being Black, it is crucial to create pathways for people from underserved communities to pursue healthcare careers. Sutter Health is committed to addressing California’s growing physician shortage and persistent health inequities by enhancing access to culturally competent care for under-represented populations.

”I think about the fact that Boston, where I spend a lot of time, has 700,000 people and three medical schools in Boston proper. South Los Angeles, the area that we serve, has a million people. We now have one medical school. So this is really for this community. The fulfillment of a 57-year-old dream and having Sutter Health as a partner validates and secures that dream and that is really important.” said Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, dean and professor at the College of Medicine at Charles R. Drew University. 

The university’s commitment to include academic and experiential learning opportunities across Sutter Health’s system includes its Institute for Advancing Health Equity, which serves to help ensure all patients experience optimal health outcomes. Sutter Health developed and implemented a new graduate MD program with its first graduating class finishing in 2027. 

”Access to safe, high-quality and equitable care is a challenge for too many in California, and particularly for communities of color,” said Leon Clark, vice president and chief academic affairs officer at Sutter Health. “This transformative work — which combines the unique strengths of two leading healthcare organizations — will address this challenge head on by tackling the physician shortage and health disparities.”

The launch of the scholarship program and HEARE is the start of a strong alliance between Sutter Health and CDU, with additional efforts planned in the years ahead related to developing physician pathways, health equity, and graduate medical education.