Newswise — New Orleans, La. – Xavier University of Louisiana (Xavier), a leading undergraduate institution in preparing Black students to successfully complete medical school, has announced continued progress with Ochsner Health (Ochsner), the Gulf South’s leading academic medical center in training physicians, to launch their transformational Xavier Ochsner College of Medicine (XOCOM). This groundbreaking partnership marks a significant milestone in advancing medical education by addressing health disparities in diverse communities and helping fulfill the urgent need for more physicians in Louisiana and the nation. The new medical school will be in the burgeoning BioDistrict New Orleans, located downtown in Benson Tower next to Caesars Superdome. 

“With the establishment of the Xavier Ochsner College of Medicine, Ochsner and Xavier aim to address long-standing health disparities and foster stronger, healthier communities in pursuit of the mission to promote a more just and humane society gifted to Xavier nearly 100 years ago by our foundress, St. Katharine Drexel and her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Dr. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana. “Our partnership with Ochsner affirms our commitment to advancing health equity and excellence. XOCOM will provide cutting-edge medical training and biomedical research and, through a culture of mentorship and leadership, empower our students to be agents of change in healthcare.” 

At a XOCOM signing celebration on April 29, 2024, Xavier and Ochsner officials announced that Dr. Leonardo Seoane, MD, FACP, Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Ochsner Health, will serve as the new HBCU medical school’s founding dean.  

 “Xavier Ochsner College of Medicine was born from a truly collaborative vision between Xavier University of Louisiana and Ochsner Health. It epitomizes our collective dedication to providing academic excellence in training the next generation of physicians, while fostering healthcare equity in New Orleans and throughout the United States,” said Dr. Seoane, Dean of Xavier Ochsner College of Medicine. “By addressing the critical shortage of physicians in standing up this HBCU medical school in the Gulf South, XOCOM will pursue diversity in medicine and ensure equitable representation in healthcare to better serve our communities for generations to come.” 

The announcement follows votes by the Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees and the Ochsner Health Board of Directors in February to approve the formation of the new medical school. On Monday, officials announced XOCOM’s founding board of directors, which includes Xavier and Ochsner appointees: 

  • C. Reynold Verret, PhD, President, Xavier University of Louisiana 
  • Pete November, CEO, Ochsner Health 
  • Trevonne M. Thompson, M.D., FAAEM, FACEP, FACMT, Associate Dean, Admissions, University of Illinois College of Medicine 
  • Matthew Block, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Ochsner Health 
  • Gary C. Butts, M.D., Executive Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Mount Sinai Health System 
  • Veronica Gillispie-Bell, M.D., MAS, FACOG, Senior Site Lead and Section Head, Women’s Services, Ochsner Kenner; Medical Director of Quality, Women’s Services, Ochsner Health; Medical Director of Minimally Invasive Center for Treatment of Uterine Fibroids, Ochsner Health; Associate Professor, Ochsner Clinical School   
  • Gregory N. Rattler Sr., Managing Director, JP Morgan Chase 
  • Deborah Grimes, RN, JD, MSHQS, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Ochsner Health 

Slated to be the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) medical school in the Gulf South when it opens, XOCOM expands opportunities for New Orleans’ downtown area as part of the BioDistrict, a development district that is growing biosciences and the local economy. As XOCOM advances healthcare equity and expands the physician workforce in the Gulf South, the medical school will also help the BioDistrict lead the region in healthcare excellence and promote inclusive, equitable job growth. 

“Ochsner Health is committed to meeting the needs of the diverse communities we serve, and we are honored to continue our work with Xavier University of Louisiana to improve the health and wellbeing of New Orleans, our state and region,” said Pete November, CEO, Ochsner Health. “By providing excellent training to more diverse physicians so they may better serve our communities, we are not only investing in the future of healthcare, but also in the long-term prosperity and wellness for our many neighbors, friends and family members throughout the Gulf South.” 

Reimagination of Healthcare to Improve Outcomes 

Through the establishment of XOCOM, Xavier and Ochsner aspire to redefine the landscape of medicine by nurturing a new cadre of physicians who authentically mirror the communities they serve. XOCOM’s vision is to unleash the power of diversity, transform medical education, and train compassionate physician scientists who will champion inclusivity and excellence in medicine.  

XOCOM will boast state-of-the-art medical technology and facilities, providing students with immersive learning experiences and hands-on training opportunities. The curriculum will emphasize interdisciplinary collaboration, clinical proficiency, and compassionate patient care, equipping graduates with the skills and knowledge to address the complex healthcare challenges of the 21st century. 

Xavier University of Louisiana will seek approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The new medical school, XOCOM, will seek preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Accreditation is expected to take about three years and will be followed by recruitment. XOCOM aims to seat 50 students in the first class, and the medical school will continue to grow as it develops. 

When it opens, the Xavier Ochsner College of Medicine will join the nation’s four existing historically Black medical schools: Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.  

Research shows an urgent need for this HBCU College of Medicine, as the demand for diverse doctors is expected to grow considerably. Every year, 25% of the incoming interns in the National Resident Matching Program come from foreign medical schools because there are not enough U.S. Medical School graduates. The Association of American Medical Colleges has projected a total shortage of up to 86,000 physicians by 2036. Louisiana is projected to rank third nationally for a shortage of physicians by 2030, with rural and underserved communities expected to be impacted the most. Black doctors make up just 5.7% of the nation’s physicians, but Black populations account for 13.6% of U.S. residents. And while Hispanic doctors only account for 6.9% of the workforce, Hispanic people make up the largest minority population at 19%.  

Studies show representation in medicine truly matters. A 2022 report in the National Library of Medicine emphasized that diversity in medicine plays a crucial role in enhancing health outcomes, as it improves quality access to health care services and fosters patient trust. 

Working Together in the BioDistrict 

Xavier and Ochsner are uniquely qualified to open a new HBCU medical school. For decades, Xavier, one of the country’s top ranked HBCUs, has produced more Black students who achieve medical degrees and doctorates in the health sciences than any other higher education institution in the nation. Ochsner has a history of investing in communities and health equity, and demonstrated experience training physicians, annually instructing over 330 residents and fellows through graduate medical education. 

Ochsner and Xavier’s partnership began in the 1980s with the College of Pharmacy, which ranks among the top in the nation in producing Black graduates with Doctor of Pharmacy degrees. More recently, the two institutions partnered to create a Physician Assistant (PA) program, new graduate programs in health sciences and the Ochsner Health and Xavier University Institute for Health Equity and Research (OXIHER). 

Working together in the BioDistrict, leaders in economic development, higher education, business, and nonprofits are creating a vibrant, authentic, and engaging place where industry and the community convene to tackle global challenges in health and wellness. The BioDistrict will drive the regional economy through strategic investments, grow the city’s biosciences and health innovation ecosystem, and create jobs and economic opportunities for New Orleanians.  

By anchoring their partnership with the Xavier Ochsner College of Medicine (XOCOM), Xavier and Ochsner will advance healthcare excellence, bring new opportunities to marginalized populations and create stellar medical education for future generations. 

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About Xavier University of Louisiana  

On the cusp of celebrating its first 100 years of service, Xavier University of Louisiana remains America’s only historically Black and Catholic University and is ranked among the top HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) in the nation. Recognized as a national leader in STEM and health sciences, Xavier has historically produced more African American students who graduate from medical schools each year than any other university in the United States. Additionally, Xavier’s College of Pharmacy is among the country’s top producers of African American pharmacists. Established in 1925 by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament as a place for African Americans and Native Americans to receive a quality education, Xavier has since expanded its programs in nearly every industry, including the arts, sciences, business, education, pharmacy, and political science. Xavier students receive an unbeatable experience of traditional classroom study, hands-on research, service-learning opportunities, and life experiences, collaborating with world-renowned faculty and topic experts. The winning Xavier formula provides students with a well-balanced curriculum and an environment that nurtures their intellect and feeds their souls, developing all who choose to learn at the institution into the next generation of leaders and agents of positive change. Blessed with a mission to promote a more just and humane society, Xavier is leading the way to a brighter future for all.  

For more information about Xavier University of Louisiana, visit or contact the Marketing and Communications Department at (504) 520-5214 or [email protected]. 


About Ochsner Health 

Ochsner Health is the leading not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Gulf South, delivering expert care at its 46 hospitals and more than 370 health and urgent care centers. For 12 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has recognized Ochsner as the No. 1 hospital in Louisiana. Additionally, Ochsner Children’s has been recognized as the No. 1 hospital for kids in Louisiana for three consecutive years. Ochsner inspires healthier lives and stronger communities through a combination of standard-setting expertise, quality and connection not found anywhere else in the region. In 2023, Ochsner Health cared for more than 1.5 million people from every state in the nation and 65 countries. Ochsner’s workforce includes more than 38,000 dedicated team members and over 4,700 employed and affiliated physicians. To learn more about how Ochsner empowers people to get well and stay well, visit