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Accreditation Awarded to PhD Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine

Western Association of Schools and Colleges affirms academic rigor, top standards of doctoral program at Cedars-Sinai

Los Angeles - July 23, 2012 – The Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine at Cedars-Sinai has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, an affirmation that the PhD-awarding educational effort meets the most rigorous standards of higher learning.

The program’s first class of students is scheduled to earn their doctoral degrees in 2013. 

“Achieving independent accreditation for our PhD program is a highly significant important milestone for our relatively new graduate education program,” said Shlomo Melmed, MD, senior vice president of academic affairs, dean of the medical faculty and Helene A. and Philip E. Hixon Chair in Investigative Medicine. “This historic achievement reflects our commitment to medical innovation and training for more than a century. The addition of a formally accredited graduate education program at Cedars-Sinai injects new vitality in our academic community, which continues to advance the frontiers of scientific scholarship and to result in world-class care for our patients.”

The July decision by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges certifies the academic integrity of the independent Cedars-Sinai graduate program, and was based on an intense, five-year assessment of its every aspect. This recognition gives students access to federal student loans and qualifies Cedars-Sinai to apply for educational funding and grants as an accredited degree-granting institution.

The graduate program at Cedars-Sinai seeks to train scientists to develop laboratory discoveries for understanding disease pathogenesis and new patient therapies. Its students, supported by a diverse faculty of scientists and physicians, train in Cedars-Sinai laboratories where more than 900 research projects are under way in areas including molecular genetics, immunology, molecular and cellular oncology, cardiovascular biology, neurosciences, regenerative medicine, metabolism and therapeutic trials. Students are currently involved in investigating an array of illnesses, including Alzheimer’s, antibiotic-resistant infections, diabetes, cancer and diseases of the heart, lung and bowel. 

“Cedars-Sinai is committed to expanding the horizons of medical knowledge through research and contributing to the future of medicine by educating and training the next generation of healthcare professionals and scientists,” said  Leon G. Fine, MD, vice dean of research and graduate research education and chair of biomedical sciences. “When we started our graduate program in 2007, it was to both fulfill this core part of our mission and to provide a fundamentally different program. By immersing our students in both basic science and clinical medicine, we create an environment that promotes discoveries that not only are significant scientifically but that also have powerful potential to help patients.”  

The program, which offers a doctorate in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine, has accepted six to eight students each year and is expected to reach a total enrollment of 35 in September.

Since its inception, the Program has been successfully led by David Underhill PhD, who is the Program Director. Broad faculty involvement in the core curriculum and in mentoring and supervision of students in the laboratories has enabled students to engage in research studies in a wide range of scientific disciplines.

On the road to accreditation, Fine said, the medical center worked to foster its academic culture by creating a graduate students’ association, opening of a graduate education center overseen by administrators Emma Yates and Linda King, and by providing the student support systems which are expected in graduate programs of the highest caliber.

“Our graduate program has been embraced by our scientists and physicians alike, who have dedicated their time as teachers, mentors and research supervisors,” he said. “We’re proud that the committee praised us for our students’ positive reviews about the level of engagement they receive from our faculty members.”