David Geffen adds $46 million to landmark medical scholarships program

UCLA has received an additional $46 million gift from longtime supporter and legendary entertainment visionary David Geffen, a reinvestment that brings the amount of the David Geffen Medical Scholarship Fund to $146 million. The latest gift will enable 120 more students at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to benefit from the fund, bringing the total number of students expected to receive awards to 414 over a 10-year period.

The full-ride scholarships, consisting of full tuition and a living stipend, have helped UCLA attract a broader array of exceptional medical school candidates. The number of applications increased more than 50 percent between 2013 and 2018, when the school received an all-time high of more than 14,000. Nearly one of every four U.S. medical school applicants applies to UCLA.

“Mr. Geffen’s groundbreaking contributions have inspired others across the nation to assist more students with the cost of their medical education,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. “His support has made it possible for UCLA to lead the way.”

Reducing debt enables graduates to pursue additional paths of study that help them become leaders in their fields or devote themselves fully to patient care. That is significant in California, where physician shortages are a growing challenge. Seventy-three percent of 2019 Geffen Scholar graduates are pursuing residency training in California, and 63 percent of all Geffen Scholar graduates are training in California. The first group graduated in 2017 .

Dr. Allen Rodriguez was among the Geffen Scholars who graduated in 2018. He is now a second-year family medicine resident at Scripps Mercy Chula Vista Family Medicine program, which provides integrated health care, from obstetrics and pediatrics through geriatrics, just north of the San Diego-Tijuana border.

“Without looming debt from medical education, I was able to choose to go into family medicine, a field I find to be extremely challenging but one that positions me to provide care for the greatest number of people with the greatest number of issues — and pursue it in a location where my work is very much needed,” Rodriguez said.

At a time when higher education debt is a subject of much concern and debate, the percentage of UCLA medical students graduating debt free has nearly tripled since Geffen gave the inaugural gift, from 17 percent in June 2013 to 45 percent in 2019. Nationally, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, average debt for new medical school graduates in 2018 was $196,520.

“The Geffen Scholars program is helping our medical students enhance their training with research and scholarly activities that prepare them to be leaders in health care,” said Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor for UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health. “In addition to practicing medicine, they will be game changers for their profession and experts in areas such as health care policy, medical innovation and community well-being.”

Geffen created the scholarship fund in 2012 with a $100 million gift. The reinvestment brings his total giving to UCLA to more than $450 million, including nearly $250 million during the Centennial Campaign for UCLA , which will conclude on Dec. 31. The medical school was named in his honor after a $200 million gift in 2002.

“The Geffen Scholars program is life-altering for our students and their future patients,” said Dr. Kelsey Martin, dean of the Geffen School of Medicine. “Mr. Geffen’s generosity has remarkable ripple effects.”

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