Newsom backs Costa, Gray’s push for medical school at UC Merced

A 60-year push to open a medical school in the San Joaquin Valley received a major boost from Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is backing the effort to build a medical school at UC Merced.

In a news conference at UC Merced on Monday, the governor expressed his support for the project, which has been on the minds of Valley leaders and residents since the university’s 2005 opening. Well before that, Fresno leaders began lobbying for a state-funded Valley medical school in the early 1960s.


The first proposed piece of the complicated medical school puzzle is the proposed Health, Behavioral Sciences and Medical Education Building. The estimated price tag: $210 million.

Appearing with Newsom were longtime medical school advocates Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), as well as state Sen. Ana Caballero (D-Salinas), who has championed better healthcare access for underserved communities.

Partnership with UCSF Fresno

Costa and Gray explained that the UC Merced medical program will team up with UCSF’s regional hospital and clinical program in Fresno. With this model, Gray said, the costs to launch and expand the medical school can be significantly reduced.

“Establishing a medical school at UC Merced has been a dream for more than 20 years,” Gray said. “Today that dream becomes a reality as we establish a branch campus of the best medical school in the country right here in the San Joaquin Valley.

“The medical school will truly transform the health care landscape in one of the most underserved regions of California. This is by far my proudest accomplishment. I am extremely grateful to Governor Newsom for making Valley health care a priority.”

“The Central Valley community has been living with unfair health outcomes for too long,” said Newsom. “Zip codes shouldn’t be a pre-existing condition. UC Merced’s Medical School will be the first of its kind for the community, providing local students with opportunities to both learn closer to home and serve the communities they grew up in, while also working to confront the most persistent health challenges facing the Central Valley head-on.”

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