I could never have predicted that, six months after I began as dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, that the world would be thrust into the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking back at the last two years, I am immensely grateful for the dedication, strength and nationally recognized achievements of everyone in our school in this rapidly evolving environment.

We have excelled as a national leader because of our deep commitment to our missions to deliver optimal care, train a diverse physician workforce and conduct leading-edge research.

The School of Medicine is currently developing a strategic plan that will ensure our academic missions drive our strategic initiatives in health equity, bench-to-bedside research, and transformative medical education that improves community health. Our plan will work in partnership with UC Davis Health’s clinical strategic plan and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing strategic plan. As an integrated health system, all three plans are complementary and designed to leverage our collective strengths, and the strength of UC Davis.

This spring, U.S. News & World Report ranked our medical school as the fourth most diverse medical school in the country, with top rankings in family medicine, primary care training and research.

We also launched our new I-EXPLORE curriculum this year, which emphasizes cross-disciplinary collaboration and focuses on the pillars of biomedical, clinical and health system science. This integrated, collaborative approach will help our students thrive in a dynamic health care landscape.

Welcoming the Class of 2025

This summer, we welcomed 132 new students — our largest incoming first year class ever. The Class of 2025 is also among the most diverse, with about 77% of students being from groups that are underrepresented in medicine. More than two-thirds of the class is female.

I am grateful to our students, residents, fellows, faculty, and staff for our mutual commitment to advance health equity. In collaboration with our students, faculty and stakeholders, our school is addressing vital and complex issues such as clerkship grade inequities and working with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to explore solutions to this systemic issue in medicine. I have instituted the Dean’s Racial Equity Advisory Committee to further evaluate and provide actionable recommendations by December 2021 to eliminate these inequities.

AAMC recently featured an inspiring example of our students’ commitment to improving the health of vulnerable communities in an article by second-year medical student, Khadija Soufi, sharing how our volunteers at the Shifa student-run clinic successfully organized COVID-19 vaccine clinics and immunized thousands of vulnerable community members.

Fostering innovation

Research continues to be an area of tremendous growth. Thanks to the work of our incredible research teams, we achieved an all-time high of $368 million in research awards in 2021 — a 33% increase over last year. Our clinical trials increased by 63% in the last year, now at $98 million. Bringing research to our patients will continue to be a strong area of focus.

We will continue to grow and diversify our research, including expanding our COVID-19 clinical trials — such as our Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster study. We are also offering patients life-saving clinical trial opportunities in a wide range of areas including stem cell treatments, cancer, neuroscience, and many others.

Looking ahead

I am grateful for our School of Medicine family, provider partners, and community-based and campus-wide collaborators as we educate the next generation of diverse physicians and continue our groundbreaking research. Our faculty, staff, students, residents, and fellows also remain firmly committed to advancing health equity.

Together, with the support of partners like you, the School of Medicine is transforming lives by improving health through the power of education, research, clinical care, and community.