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January 22, 2009


NEW YORK, January 22, 2009 – Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the distinguished scholar and author, will be the keynote speaker for the 35th graduation ceremony of The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program at Harlem Hospital Center. The event takes place 1 p.m. Friday, January 30, in The Great Hall, Shepard Hall, of The City College of New York (CCNY).

The degree B.S. in Physician Assistant Studies will be conferred upon 25 students in the ceremony. Dr. Gregory H. Williams, President of The City College, will offer remarks, as well.

Dr. Gates is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and, Director, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, at Harvard University. The PA Program Class of 2009 that he will address is an ethnically diverse group that includes significant representation African- Americans, Latinos and women, groups historically underrepresented in healthcare.

About The Physician Assistant (PA) Program

The PA Program, headed by Gemina Gates, Assistant Dean and Program Director, leads the nation in producing African-American and Latino physician assistants.  While the national average is around 20 percent minority, the figure at Sophie Davis is 79 percent.

Developed at Harlem Hospital in 1970 and affiliated with CCNY since 1978, it is one of just 142 accredited PA programs in the United States as well as one of the first. The program has graduated nearly 900 physician assistants to date. It boasts a 93 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent first-time pass rate on national board examinations. 

Ninety-five percent of its graduates have come from the New York metropolitan region and/or practice here after graduation.  The program has trained more than 50 percent of all minority faculty members for PA training programs nationwide, including seven graduates who went directly into PA training after graduation.

About Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is one of the most powerful academic voices in America. In 1997 he was voted one of “Time” magazine’s “25 Most Influential Americans.”  He is most recognized for his extensive research in African American history and literature, and for developing and expanding the African-American Studies program at Harvard University.  He also is the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, England.

His most recent books are: “Finding Oprah’s Roots: Finding Your Own” (Crown, 2007), a meditation on genetics, genealogy, and race; “The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” edited with Hollis Robbins (W. W. Norton, 2006) and “America Behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans” (Warner Books, 2004).

Among his numerous awards are: a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” (1981), the George Polk Award for Social Commentary (1993), the “Chicago Tribune” Heartland Award (1994), the Golden Plate Achievement Award (1995), a National Humanities Medal (1998) and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1999).

About The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education

Since 1973, the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education has offered a unique, seven-year B.S./M.D. program that integrates an undergraduate education with the first two years of medical school. After five years, students transfer seamlessly to one of six medical schools – Albany Medical College, Dartmouth Medical School, New York Medical College, New York University, SUNY Downstate School of Medicine or SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine – for the final two years.  The School's mission is to increase accessibility to careers in medicine for underrepresented groups and to train primary care physicians to serve in medically underserved communities.  Around 40 percent of its approximately 360 students are African-American or Hispanic.

About The City College of New York

For more than 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; The School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA); The School of Education; The Grove School of Engineering, and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. For additional information, visit