Public Release: 

Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation makes pipeline for future doctors

Public school students in Cleveland will benefit

Case Western Reserve University

CLEVELAND - The Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation announced today that it will make a significant investment in the city of Cleveland to create a medical education pipeline for students from traditionally underrepresented minorities and low-income backgrounds. The first phase of the Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation's Health Profession Pipeline Program (H3P) is the creation of the Edwards Scholarship Endowment at Case Western Reserve University.

An initial investment of $10 to $12 million over 10 years will establish an endowment for full-tuition scholarships for students to earn bachelor and medical degrees at Case Western Reserve. In addition, the foundation will provide a renewable grant to University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center to create the Edwards Fellowship and the Physicians Development Program. The first phase for this physicians program begins with a three year commitment of $450,000.

Beginning in 2011, the Health Profession Pipeline Program will provide this scholarship opportunity to one student per year from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's Cleveland School of Science and Medicine at John Hay Campus (CSSM). As part of the effort, members of the Case Western Reserve community and UH Case Medical Center physicians will provide academic programming and individual mentoring to students at CSSM.

As envisioned by the foundation and participants, the program has the potential to educate 98 doctors over the next 60 years through a potential total investment of up to $90 million.

"Mrs. Edwards believed deeply in the importance of giving underrepresented minority and low-income students greater opportunities to become physicians, and that they in turn could provide medical care to underserved populations," said Thomas M. McDonald, Cleveland distribution director for the Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation. "The foundation believes these goals will be best achieved by enabling partners in public schools, university education and health care to build on their already strong collaborative relationships."

The Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation was created by a bequest from the Joan C. Edwards Trust in 2006 at the time of Mrs. Edwards' death. Mrs. Edwards was a philanthropist and former jazz singer. Her husband, James, who died in 1991, was owner and CEO of National Mattress Company in Huntington, W.Va., where the couple lived most of their lives.

The foundation considered Cleveland an ideal candidate for this program because of:

  1. The presence of a science and medicine school like CSSM at John Hay Campus. CSSM is fully equipped to teach and select students of excellence with an interest in science and math and to fully integrate new educational events into its curriculum.

  2. The high school's proximity Case Western Reserve University and its School of Medicine. Case Western Reserve faculty participated in the design of CSSM and continues to engage in its activities. In addition, the university's Pre-Professional Scholars Program grants conditional admission into the School of Medicine to a highly selective group of first-year undergraduates if high academic criteria are met and maintained, which provides a sense of security and allows students to follow courses of study that reflect their educational interests.

  3. The high school's proximity to University Hospitals and University Hospitals Case Medical Center. With nearly 150 years of history, UH Case Medical Center is a prime training ground for physician-scientists. Through the primary affiliation with Case Western Reserve, UH Case Medical Center's physicians work alongside researchers on the cellular, biochemical, and genetic levels to translate promising findings into new understandings of diseases and development of novel diagnostic tests and therapies.

  4. The prevalence of Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) in surrounding Cleveland neighborhoods. HPSA designations are defined by the Health Resource Service Administration of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and are based on a set of scored criteria in five areas: ratio of population to primary care physicians (double weighted); infant mortality rate/low birth weight; poverty rates; and distance to nearest available source of care. Designated HPSA geographical areas for primary medical care in Cuyahoga County are: East Cleveland, Hough/Norwood/ Glenville, Western Collinwood, Cleveland-South Broadway, Mt Pleasant/Union-Miles/Corlett, and West Side Cleveland.

In addition, the Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation's pipeline complements the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's goal to become a premier school district within the United States.

"The mission and vision of the John Hay Campus of Science & Medicine is to nurture and bridge students into the medical field pipeline, which seamlessly aligns with the Joan C. Edward Foundation's goals," said Eugene T.W. Sanders, PhD, CEO of Cleveland Metropolitan School District. "This school has the greatest assembly of prepared students who would be able to maximize all aspects of this award."

Specifically, the gift will create two endowments and one renewable grant:

  1. the Case Western Reserve University Undergraduate Edwards Scholars Endowment, a pre-professional scholarship for one CSSM graduate per year who intends to pursue an undergraduate pre-med degree;

  2. the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Edwards Scholars Endowment for qualified students who have held the undergraduate scholarship; and

  3. the Edwards Fellowship and Physicians Development Program Grant at UH Case Medical Center, which will provide internships and junior faculty and fellowship training awards.

"Case Western Reserve University is honored to be a part of this visionary pipeline project," said President Barbara R. Snyder. "One of our core values is diversity. This program provides a wonderful opportunity to support promising students and at the same time meet a critical societal need."

The Physicians Development Program, funded by the Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation and administered at UH Case Medical Center, also will fund a summer internship program for CSSM students and Case Western Reserve undergraduates who are interested in entering medical school. During the academic year, laboratory-based work-study positions at UH Case Medical Center also will be available to these students.

As a key component of the Cleveland pipeline program's initial roll-out, physicians from the University Hospitals Harrington-McLaughlin Heart & Vascular Institute and other areas of UH Case Medical Center will visit CSSM juniors and seniors to engage the students in innovative educational events collaboratively developed and delivered through UH Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve. Daniel I. Simon, MD, Director of the UH Harrington-McLaughlin Heart & Vascular Institute and the Herman K. Hellerstein Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, will be the first to launch the program.

"We are pleased to be part of this extraordinary gift and what it promises to bring to the next generation of physicians who will hopefully serve the same community in which they live and grew up," said Dr. Simon "By providing these talented young students first-hand experience with our renowned physician researchers, this unique program will truly transform our medical community as well as the students' lives."

The foundation hopes that the Cleveland pipeline program will be a successful model for others nationwide. "It is the belief of the foundation that the program as modeled here in Cleveland represents a significant step in the evolution of medical education pipelines," says Brian A. McDonald, the Edwards Foundation's executive director. "We hope that this model can be applied to other qualifying communities around the country as a way to most intelligently apply available scholarship funding."

The Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation is a private foundation located in Cleveland, Ohio dedicated to the support of local medical education systems in communities exhibiting a critical shortage of health professionals. Through the intelligent and collaborative application of scholarship dollars, the foundation hopes to foster a tighter integration of the core components of a community's medical education system. It is believed that by creating a medical education pipeline from the medical professions into these communities that the Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation can work to address the inequities evident in health care education and access.

The John Hay Campus, located near Case Western Reserve University, is the home of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's Cleveland School of Science and Medicine (CSSM), which was founded in 2006. With an enrollment of about 400, CSSM is a school dedicated to offering unique college-preparatory education for motivated, high-achieving students interested in entering science or health-related professions. The school offers a portfolio of specialty courses developed in partnership with Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals. These partners along with CMSD faculty developed eight science and medical courses including Bioethics, Professional Medicine, and Business of Health Care. The students take two science courses in each of their first two years, completing all of Ohio's science requirements. In their third and fourth years, students take higher level advanced placement courses in biology, chemistry and physics. For more information:

Case Western Reserve University is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case Western Reserve is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case Western Reserve offers nationally recognized programs in the arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing, and social work. For more information:

University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of hospitals, outpatient centers and primary care physicians. At the core of our health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation and the world, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics and spine, radiology and radiation oncology, neurosurgery and neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, organ transplantation and human genetics. Its main campus includes the internationally celebrated UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top two hospitals in the nation for the care of critically ill newborns; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Ireland Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information:

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