Charles Drew University (CDU), one of the premier minority academic institutions in the nation, is a private, nonprofit school founded in 1966 as a community medical center, originally in partnership with the Los Angeles County Martin Luther King, Jr., Hospital, in response to inadequate medical facilities within the Watts-Willowbrook section of South Los Angeles. It is the only academic health sciences center in an area of 1.6 million people - the largest underserved urban area in the United States. The university is also the nation's only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School. CDU is nationally recognized as a leader in creating novel strategies for providing quality care to diverse and medically underserved patient populations within complex community settings. The CDU community catchment area, approximately 40% African American and 60% Hispanic, with 35% of residents living below the federal poverty level, has been historically isolated from participation in clinical and translational research.
Grounded in new partnerships over the last 10 years with Harbor-LA BioMed and UCLA, the growth in research activity at CDU has translated into a high level of productivity. CDU ranks in the top 7% of over 3,400 institutions funded by NIH, with over $20 million per year in NIH funding and $11 million in non-NIH funding. CDU was recently ranked in the top 50 private research universities as rated by the Center for Measuring University Performance at Arizona State University. It is noteworthy that a 2007 NSF-funded study found that while U.S. scientific publishing was flat from 1992 to 2001 despite increased research funding, CDU was the Number 1 institution in the country over this period of time in terms of publication growth, among the top 200 institutions by level of NIH funding. Of substantial relevance to the UCLA CTSI mission, in July 2007 the NCRR awarded a $9.5 million, 3-year grant to CDU (PI Keith Norris, MD) to launch the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Translational Research Network. This network is designed to increase the opportunity for multi-site clinical and translational research among minority and other collaborating institutions throughout the United States. Moreover, in April 2008, CDU broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art $43 million Life Sciences Research and Nursing Education building. Representing the largest single investment in South Los Angeles in the past 25 years, this two-story, 63,000- square-foot, scientific research and teaching facility will encompass laboratory and clinical research and support functions for the College of Medicine, the College of Science and Health, and the new Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing.
CDU is a center of exceptional methodologic and cultural expertise in community-partnered participatory research principles, which is crucial to the CTSI strategy for community engagement. Reciprocally, joint teaching faculty appointments and collaborative investigator networks between UCLA and CDU are critical for CDU to achieve its strategic goal of research-intensive status in translational medicine (e.g., $100 million annually extramural funding) by the year 2015. The CTSI will yield approximately $1.5 million in new annual operational revenues to CDU in support of its partnership activities, in addition to ongoing UCLA support of CDU's new medical and nursing schools. As a CTSI partner, CDU critically contributes to the effort of bridging the translational gap from basic science to medical care through its exceptional network of community partnerships, and through its leadership in refining and disseminating community-partnered participatory research principles.