The American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) and the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) have entered into a partnership designed to meet needs resulting from healthcare disparities in communities where residents are underrepresented and underserved. One of the most significant challenges in this area is the paucity of research studies and educational programs specifically designed to address these needs. AUHS has partnered with CDU in the areas of interprofessional education for medical, nursing, and pharmacy students and cancer research. The CDU Cancer Center has a reputation as one of the preeminent pioneers investigating healthcare disparities in African American and Hispanic populations in the Los Angeles area. Under the direction of the Vice President of Research, Dr. Jaydutt Vadgama, the UCLA/CDU Cancer Center has gained national prominence in research focused on the healthcare disparities of cancer therapy. Dr. Vadgama and his colleagues have been awarded over 8 million dollars in active research funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). AUHS and CDU will collaborate on projects of mutual interest in education and research, primarily devoted to addressing health care disparities, initially focused on interprofessional healthcare education and cancer research.
Drs. Amir Shirazi and Suhui Yang, faculty in the School of Pharmacy at AUHS, have worked together with members of Dr. Vadgama’s research faculty to build collaborations devoted to the discovery, design, and synthesis of new drugs and drug formulations for the treatment of breast and prostate cancer. As part of this collaboration, CDU will provide existing research space, initiate renovations, acquire equipment, and provide seed funding in excess of $300,000 to expand their capabilities to accommodate the needs of Drs. Shirazi and Yang. Representing AUHS, Drs. Yang and Shirazi have also made presentations in the Monday afternoon (12-2 pm) UCLA/CDU Division of Cancer Research and Training, and the AXIS Center, Cancer Journal Club. They have also been regular participants in UCLA/CDU’s Division of Cancer Research and Training Lab meetings (4-6 pm on Wednesdays).
The AUHS-CDU partnership also provides research opportunities for students. One of the AUHS nursing students, Yvonne Linares, has been actively engaged in the research associated with CDU’s nursing program. In her words, “Charles Drew University has opened the doors to a Senior BSN student from American University of Health Sciences to become the future pioneer of Nursing Research. I had the honor to meet Vice President of Research (CDU) Dr. Vadgama (UCLA/CDU); during the UCLA/CDU Cancer Research Program Presentation in Aug 5th, 2018 … I got to meet the famous Diane M. Breckinridge, well known for her extensive Nursing Research knowledge, inspired by the one & only Betty Neuman, founder of THE NEUMAN SYSTEM MODE … Charles Drew University offered an enthusiastic BSN Senior Student from American University of Health Science … a growing pathway for my career in Nursing. I wanted to thank … AUHS for pushing me throughout my Nursing Career & believing in my dreams: healing the vulnerable population & teaching.”
In addition to helping start the research programs of faculty at AUHS by providing space, research equipment, seed funding, and immediate access to NIH-funded faculty partners/collaborators, with an amazingly successful track record of extramural funding, the AUHS-CDU partnership helps the AUHS pharmacy school meet a new standard required by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as of 2019. This new standard is to have an interprofessional program as part of the AUHS SOP, where all pharmacy students are involved with other healthcare providers, in particular, academic medical doctors and their students. As such, the AUHS-CDU partnership puts the AUHS School of Pharmacy ahead of the accreditation curve in satisfying a challenging new requirement for all pharmacy programs.