A Community-Based Medical School for the 21st Century

Male student during the graduation of the class of 2017

History of the UCR School of Medicine


The UCR School of Medicine welcomed its first class of students in the fall of 2013, but the dream of teaching physicians at the University of California, Riverside dates back to 1971, when then-UCR Chancellor Ivan Hinderaker first presented the idea of building a medical education program in Inland Southern California.

Our History

The UCR/UCLA Program in Biomedical Sciences was established in 1974 with a dual goal of recruiting outstanding students to UC Riverside and increasing the number of medical students entering clinical training at UCLA. Students in the program completed their undergraduate work and the first two years of their medical education at UC Riverside, then transferred to UCLA for their third and fourth years, earning their M.D. from the David Geffen School of Medicine. Between its inception and the opening of the UCR School of Medicine in 2013, approximately 850 students went through the program, which was renamed the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences in 1997.

The success of the Haider Program served as the foundation for the development of the UCR School of Medicine. In 2003, then-Chancellor France A. Córdova brought together a blue-ribbon panel to begin the planning process for a four-year medical school. In July 2008, the UC Regents approved UCR’s proposal for a school of medicine and by February 2010 Dr. G. Richard Olds, came on board as founding dean and vice chancellor of health affairs.

Preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) was delayed for one year by California’s budget woes, but in October 2012, the School of Medicine received that long-sought accreditation and recruiting for the inaugural class of 2013. That class of 50 students arrived in August 2013, beginning their path toward becoming a physician. In June 2017, the school graduated its first class of medical students and secured full accreditation from the LCME.

UCR School of Medicine Timeline

  • 1997
    The biomedical sciences program is renamed the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences. The couple also establishes the Salma Haider Endowed Chair in Biomedical Sciences, with Craig Byus receiving the initial appointment.
  • 1999
    The five-week FastStart residential summer bridge program for entering freshmen begins. The program gives students a head start in basic science courses towards a goal of increasing their chances of a successful first year in college.
  • 2002
    The J. W. Vines Medical Society, the Inland Empire affiliate of the National Medical Association, successfully lobbied the California State Legislature to mandate structural and curricular changes to the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences. These subsequent critical changes stimulated the creation of a community oriented mission statement for the restructured Haider program: to train a culturally diverse physician workforce and create clinical and research programs to serve the population of Inland Southern California. These efforts were pivotal to establishing the foundation for the mission of the first new University of California medical school in more than 40 years.
  • July 2003
    In partnership with community leaders in medicine, business, education, and philanthropy, the Haider Program’s mission was reshaped to emphasize preparing students for distinguished medical careers serving the health care needs of the underserved, inland, and rural populations. Elements of the program were restructured to broaden student access and success, including allowing students from any major on campus who completed at least two years of their undergraduate training at UCR to apply for admission to the medical phase of the program.
  • August 2003
    Craig Byus is named interim dean and program director of the Haider Program.
  • November 2003
    Then-Chancellor France A. Córdova appointed a blue ribbon panel of renowned academics and education leaders to advise the campus on expanding medical education and health science research and begin planning for a four-year medical school in response to forecasts of a severe physician shortage in the rapidly growing and ethnically diverse Inland Southern California region.
  • 2004
    A group of deans chaired by former Washington University School of Medical School Dean William Peck reviewed initial plans the medical school and provided recommendations to guide further planning.
  • Fall 2005
    The Medical Scholars Program debuts. The program creates a community of learners who support one another through peer mentoring, study groups, seminars and other activities.
  • March 2006
    An external advisory board chaired by Dr. Haile Debas former chancellor and dean emeritus of UC San Francisco, was appointed to craft a distinctive academic vision for the medical school and to guide UCR through the planning process.
  • May 2006
    UCR submits a preliminary proposal to the Office of the President of the University of California.
  • November 2006
    On Nov. 16, the UC Regents approved the proposal for the creation of a school of medicine at UC Riverside, authorizing UCR to proceed with final planning for the school, including drafting of a proposed curriculum.
    Mark and Pam Rubin designate funds from a campus gift to endow the chair of the founding dean for the proposed UCR School of Medicine.
  • September 2007
    Phyllis A. Guze, M.D., is named executive director of medical school planning.
  • October 2007
    Guze leads a business planning effort to develop the final medical school proposal. The effort features 80 faculty, staff, campus administrators, alumni and medical and community leaders participating in six work groups and a business modeling team.
    The Haider Program is opened to all interested students, rather than UCR students who had entered UCR as biomedical science majors.
  • February 2008
    The medical school proposal and proposed curriculum is unanimously approved by the UC Riverside Academic Senate.
  • July 2008
    The UC Board of Regents approve the establishment of the UCR School of Medicine. Guze is appointed acting vice chancellor, medical sciences and dean of the School of Medicine.
  • December 2008
    A national search for the founding dean of the medical school is begun.
  • March 2009
    Former Haider program dean and senior associate dean for academic affairs for the medical school Craig Byus is awarded a Freedom Fund Award from the NAACP-Riverside Branch. The award, in the Medical/Public Health category, recognized his role in the restructuring of the previous medical education partnership with UCLA.
  • October 2009
    Dr. G. Richard Olds, an internationally recognized tropical disease authority and former chair of the Department of Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, is named founding dean of the UCR School of Medicine and vice chancellor of health affairs.
  • February 2010
    Olds begins his tenure as founding dean and vice chancellor for health affairs. Guze is named associate vice chancellor, health affairs and senior executive dean.
  • March 2011
    The School of Medicine Research Building is opened. The facility features faculty offices and lab space and serves as a model for sustainable laboratory design, earning LEED Gold status.
  • June 2011
    Initial accreditation is denied because of concerns about the State of California’s ability to provide funding for the new school. UCR officials pledge to resubmit for accreditation after securing additional funding. Then-Chancellor Timothy P. White tells the media “We are going to redouble our efforts to seek these sustaining and recurring funds from the folks in Sacramento.”
  • Spring 2012
    The School of Medicine Education Building is opened in the newly renovated former Stat/Comp Building.
  • October 2012
    With alternative financial backing from private donors, local government and the UC system, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) grants the UCR School of Medicine preliminary accreditation, making it the sixth medical school in the UC system and the first to open in more than 40 years.

    "Because we had tried and failed before, it is all the sweeter to have succeeded a year later," Olds told the Los Angeles Times.

  • December 2012
    State Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside) and Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside) introduce measures to appropriate $15 million per year in state funds for the UCR School of Medicine.
  • May 2013
    Byus receives the Lifetime Achievement in Medical Education Award from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, recognizing his role in the development of the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences. Byus retired in June 2013 after 36 years of service, though he continued as a member of the faculty. Neal L. Schiller is named the Salma Haider Endowed Chair in Biomedical Sciences.
  • June 2013
    The California State Legislature adopts the 2013-14 state budget, which includes funding for the UCR School of Medicine as part of the UC’s annual base budget.
    “We would not have reached this point without Assemblymember Medina and Senator Roth’s tireless efforts to champion our new medical school and secure in the Legislature’s budget full and continuous funding,” Olds said.
  • August 2013
    The first class of 50 students are welcomed to the UCR School of Medicine for the traditional white coat ceremony.
  • Summer 2014
    The second class of 50 students arrive at UCR, bringing the student population to 100. In addition, the Family Medicine-Palm Springs residency welcomes its first four residents.
  • June 2015
    The School of Medicine receives provisional accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the second step in the accreditation process.
  • Summer 2015
    The third class of 50 students arrive at UCR, bringing the student population to 150. The Psychiatry Residency Program welcomes its first four residents.
  • May 2016
    Deborah Deas, M.D., M.P.H. appointed the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean of the School of Medicine and C.E.O. for Clinical Affairs.
  • June 9, 2017
    One day after receiving notification from the LCME of the School of Medicine receiving full accreditation, the inaugural graduating class of 40 students receive their degrees and recite the Hippocratic Oath in a ceremony at the Student Recreation Center.
  • Spring 2017
    UC Riverside School of Medicine makes its first-ever appearance in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of graduate schools, appearing at No. 93.
  • November 2018
    Build-out of the ground floor of the School of Medicine Research Building is completed, adding nearly 19,000 square feet of faculty offices and labs to the facility.
  • Spring 2019
    State legislators approve $108 million in the state budget for construction of the new 65,000 square foot Medical Education Building II.
  • June 29, 2020
    Governor Gavin Newsom signs the Budget Act of 2020, providing the UCR School of Medicine with a budget allocation of $25 million per year. The funding will allow the medical school to double its enrollment to 500 over the next several years. The funding became a reality thanks, in part, to the support of California Senator Richard Roth and Assemblymembers Jose Medina and Sabrina Cervantes.
  • July 1, 2020
    Thirteen members of the inaugural Class of 2017 complete their residency training.
  • October 2020
    The School of Medicine is named a founding member of the Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) National Center for Pre-Faculty Development. The center is intended to help students and residents become aware of academic medicine as a career option.
  • March 17, 2021
    The UC Regents give final approval for construction of the new Education Building II. Hensel Phelps Construction/CO Architects is approved as the design build partner.
  • July 2021
    The new, 11,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Clinical Skills and Simulation Center officially opens in the basement of the Orbach Science Library. It features specialized areas that can be used for both training and testing.
  • October 21, 2021
    The School of Medicine hosts a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the construction of Education Building II.
  • September 26, 2023
    The School of Medicine Education II Building formally opens with a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of more than 300 guests. A few weeks later the building hosted the Grand Opening Gala with a record number of more than 320 guests.
Thomas & Salma Haider

Leading the Way: Dr. Thomas and Salma Haider

It is impossible to overstate the role that Dr. Thomas and Salma Haider have played in the development of the physician training programs at the University of California, Riverside. More than 700 physicians and thousands of their patients have benefited from their devotion and generosity. Though the Haiders are neither alumni of UCR nor natives of the Inland Southern California region, they have been generous visionaries who are committed to providing an opportunity for education to underserved individuals.

Thomas Haider is a world-renowned spinal surgeon who has developed and patented surgical instrumentation for use in spinal surgery. He founded the Haider Spine Center, located in Riverside, and he is chief of the spine division at Riverside University Health System - Medical Center. He and his wife are co-founders of the Children’s Spine Foundation, a charity that works to secure intervention and treatment of spinal disorders in children whose families would not otherwise have the financial means to do so.

In 1997, the Haiders threw their support behind UCR’s Biomedical Science Program, which was subsequently renamed the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences in his honor. In addition, the couple established the Salma Haider Endowed Chair for the Thomas Haider Program. In 1997 he became part of UCR’s clinical faculty and in 1999 he was named chairman of the school’s Biomedical Advisory Board.

Thomas Haider also served a key role on the admissions committee, helping to usher in a diverse group of medical students who might have otherwise been overlooked.

At the same time, the Haiders were fervent supporters of the concept of a full-fledged medical school at UC Riverside, encouraging others to believe the biomedical sciences program could serve as the foundation for a medical school.

Haider’s commitment to UCR has gone far beyond his initial support. He has donated the royalties from his Haider/UCR Pedicle Instrumentation to the university in support of the School of Medicine and, in the summer of 2014, became chair of the UCR Foundation Board of Trustees.

“Riverside is a very tightly knit community. People who are here want to support it; they have a sense of ownership, just like I do,” Haider told the UCR Magazine in the Fall of 2014. “If you play a role in that, you will feel that sense of accomplishment. Everything that you do will make a big difference.”

In October 2012, the Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Salma Haider Donor Wall was dedicated in the lobby of the School of Medicine Education Building. The inscription on the wall reads “Every Gift Tells A Story,” and for the Haiders' that story is one of kindness, benevolence and devotion to the people of Inland Southern California.

Learn About the Haider Program