Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Founding

CLEVELAND - This year marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, an innovative medical school designed to train future physician-researchers. Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve celebrated the milestone May 19 and 20, as members of the fourth graduating class received their diplomas at commencement ceremonies on both campuses.

The Lerner College of Medicine was established with a $100 million gift from local philanthropists Al and Norma Lerner with the goal of encouraging more doctors who could not only care for patients, but also understand basic science and conduct research. Since its founding in 2002, the college has challenged conventional medical school norms by eliminating class rankings and documented grades, accepting only 32 highly selected students in each class, eliminating lecture-based classes in favor of group seminars, encouraging student interactions with patients in the first year, and focusing on empathy and the human side of medicine.

“The Lerner College of Medicine continues Cleveland Clinic’s legacy of innovation through research and education, and the Lerners’ gift has made all of this possible,” Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Delos M. “Toby” Cosgrove, M.D., said. “We take great pride in our students and faculty, and are grateful for our collaboration with Case Western Reserve University. Our partnership in education has helped attract some of the best and brightest minds in science and medicine to the college and to the region.”

After two years of preparations, the college welcomed its first class of students in July 2004. The five-year program, which includes an extra year for students to perform biomedical research, graduated its first class in May 2009. After this weekend’s commencement ceremony, the college has graduated 120 physician-researchers.

“One of the key components of the Lerner College of Medicine is the close relationship between students and professors,” said James Young, M.D., Executive Dean of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. “This unique aspect is critical to their career development, and allows our students a guide to navigate and master the curriculum throughout all five years.”

“We are pleased to recognize Al and Norma Lerner and celebrate their commitment to advancing medical education,” said Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD, Dean, School of Medicine, and Vice President of Medical Affairs, Case Western Reserve University. “This anniversary commemorates their benevolent vision to cultivate clinical research physicians who embody compassionate care and research prowess.”

Thanks to the college’s innovative structure and a focus on fostering a group-practice environment, Lerner College students are well equipped to excel in the changing healthcare environment. They also graduate from medical school without tuition debt, thanks to full-tuition scholarships for all Lerner College students. Without the normal financial burden of medical school, students are free to choose any specialty, including research, for their long-term career, and are not pressured to choose a higher-paying career to pay off school loans.

With its unique structure and format, the college has become a sought-after medical school for top-tier students. Students admitted to Lerner College have a higher average Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) score than the national average (11.5 vs. 10.25), and graduates have landed positions at such prestigious medical organizations as Johns Hopkins Hospital; New York-Presbyterian Hospital; and Yale-New Haven Hospital. Cleveland Clinic has retained several Lerner College graduates.

Commencement ceremonies were held in coordination with Case Western Reserve University, including a ceremony on the evening of May 19 at the Intercontinental Hotel on the campus of Cleveland Clinic and a graduation ceremony May 20 at Case Western Reserve University.

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Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report's "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine is affiliated with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.