Portrait of Rafi Younoszai, PhD Professor of Anatomy(Emeritus) & Social Medicine
Rafi Younoszai, PhD Professor of Anatomy(Emeritus) & Social Medicine / Director of International Cross-Cultural Programs COMP-Pomona Click here to read more about Dr. Younoszai

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Professor Emeritus Rafi Younoszai, PhD, has retired after serving Western University of Health Sciences for more than 30 years. Along the way, he helped countless students and created community service student clubs that continue to thrive today, and he continues to inspire others to travel abroad to learn more about international medicine. He came to the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in its infancy, driven by a great desire to teach. Osteopathic medical colleges were known to support good teaching, Younoszai said, and he also wanted to return to California, having earned his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley. Nadir Khan, PhD, then Dean of Sciences, hired Younoszai and Gayle Nelson, PhD, on July 1, 1979. They both taught gross anatomy to first and second-year students. “Dr. Younoszai took an embryonic program of anatomy from conception to adulthood. He brought new academic standards in anatomy laboratory exercises and specimen preparation, and he established the basis for the current anatomical museum,” said WesternU Founding President Philip Pumerantz, PhD. “Equally important, he has served as a role model to generations of osteopathic physicians and students and to his colleagues. Although he is retiring, he will always be a valued member of our WesternU family.” COMP was in an outdoor mall, with one lecture hall, no individual faculty offices and one dean and one receptionist, Younoszai said. COMP was mainly made up of non-traditional students – they were older, had been in the workforce for a while, and needed a change. “They wanted to become physicians,” Younoszai said. “They were dedicated people. They knew what they wanted and made up their minds. They were devoted people, hard-working and compassionate people.” Younoszai attended the 1988 National Council for International Health (NCIH) meeting in Washington, D.C. NCIH at that time was celebrating the 10-year anniversary of successes in its Primary Health Care (PHC) projects in many developing countries. The definition of primary health care at that time was also how osteopathic medicine defined itself, Younoszai said. At that conference, faculty from allopathic medical schools sending students abroad to learn about primary health care formed the Global Health Education Consortium (GHEC). The need for Academic Health Centers in the U.S. to provide health care to surrounding communities was also called for during the meeting, Younoszai said. In response, Younoszai helped COMP create the Pomona Community Health Action Team (PCHAT), which has been providing basic health screenings to the Pomona community since 1995. Pomona Homeless Outreach Project (PHOP) was established soon after. Both projects are student-run, supervised by COMP physicians, and are now part of the students’ service learning curriculum activities. “It is through service learning that students learn to identify the community and its needs, how to provide for unmet needs, to reflect on their civic responsibilities, and how to interact with students from other professions,” Younoszai said. “Service learning provides them interprofessional skills for their future medical homes.” Younoszai established the Rafi Younoszai Fourth Year Elective in International Health, an endowed scholarship that covers some travel expenses for the recipient’s international rotation. “I believe that our existing health care system does not provide adequate and equitable health care to our needy communities,” Younoszai said. “Primary health care models in developing countries can become models of the medical home concept presently becoming more popular in California. This could bring down the cost of health care and make it more equitable. We need primary care physicians to attend the needs of these communities in the U.S. Providing opportunities for our students to practice in primary health care clinics in developing countries will, I believe, help train and entice our students to serve in needy communities locally.”