Keck School History

Advancing medical education since 1885

The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California was established in 1885 as the region’s first medical school and the second professional school founded at USC.


In July 1999, the University of Southern California announced that it had received a gift of $110 million from the W.M. Keck Foundation—the largest gift ever made to a medical school at the time and the largest single gift ever made by the Keck Foundation. USC, which committed to raising $330 million in matching funds, renamed its medical school the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California to recognize the generosity of the foundation. The gift has enabled the Keck School to pursue strategic initiatives aimed at transforming the Keck School of Medicine to one of the most highly regarded and competitive medical schools in the nation. A large portion of the gift is being invested in the expansion of Keck School research efforts, including the new Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute. The Institute aims to expand scientific knowledge of the causes, progression and treatment of degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other debilitating illnesses.

Deans of the Keck School of Medicine of USC

Keck School of Medicine of USC (1999 – Present)

2007 – 2016 Carmen A. Puliafito, MD, MBA
2004 – 2007 Brian E. Henderson, MD
1999 – 2004 Stephen J. Ryan, MD

USC School of Medicine (1928 – 1999)

1991 – 1999 Stephen J. Ryan, MD
1986 – 1991 Robert E. Tranquada, MD
1985 – 1986 Joseph P. Van Der Meulen, MD, PhD
1974 – 1985 Allen. W. Mathies, MD, PhD
1969 – 1974 Franz Bauer, MD
1964 – 1969 Roger O. Egeberg, MD
1958 – 1964 Clayton G. Loosli, MD, PhD
1956 – 1958 Chairman, Thomas H. Brem, MD
1953 – 1956 Gordon E. Goodhart, MD
1943 – 1953 Burrell O. Raulston, MD
1942 – 1943 Seeley G. Mudd, MD
1931 – 1941 Paul S. McKibben, PhD
1928 – 1931 William D. Cutter, MD

The College of Physicians and Surgeons, Medical Department of the USC (1909 – 1920)

1909 – 1920 Charles W. Bryson, MD

The College of Medicine of the USC (1885 – 1909)

1907 – 1909 W. Jarvis Barlow, MD
1906 – 1907 William D. Babcock, MD
1903 – 1906 Walter F. Lindley, MD
1902 – 1903 J. W. McBride, MD
1896 – 1902 Henry G. Brainerd, MD
1885 – 1896 Joseph P. Widney, MD

Keck School of Medicine Historical Timeline | 1880 to Present

The University of Southern California is founded as California’s first research university.
USC’s College of Medicine is established with Joseph Pomeroy Widney, MD, as dean. The school opens on October 7 in a former winery on Aliso Street in Los Angeles. It is the University’s second professional school and the region’s first medical school.
The USC medical school enters into a formal affiliation with the Los Angeles County Hospital and Poor Farm, which had been founded in 1878.
Nine of the original 12 students, including one woman, become the first graduating class of the USC College of Medicine.
Joseph Widney becomes president of USC while remaining dean of the College of Medicine.
The USC College of Medicine opens a modern three-story building on Buena Vista Street, about seven miles from its original Aliso Street location. The faculty had personally borrowed $20,000 for the building’s construction.

H.G. Brainerd, MD, becomes dean.

USC’s College of Medicine, deep in debt, affiliates with the University of California and becomes the Los Angeles Department of the School of Medicine of the University of California.

USC seeks a new affiliation and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Medical Department of the University of Southern California is open for Fall term.

Abraham Flexner produces a landmark report for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: Medical Education in the United States and Canada. The “Flexner Report” quickly achieves notoriety and has huge impact on medical education and practice in the United States.
USC’s trustees announce the medical school will close until a sufficient endowment can be raised.
The medical school resumes operations following a seven-year closure that began in 1921.
The USC School of Medicine establishes an affiliation with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
The 1933 class of medical students, numbering 30 and including five women, celebrate their graduation. It becomes the first class to complete their education at USC’s medical school since the 1928 reopening.

Los Angeles County opens a new modern county hospital on State Street (what is today the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center).

The members of the 1933 class receive their degrees after finishing the newly instituted requirement that all medical doctors complete a year-long internship.
USC records its first gifts to medical research: a $5,000 from the President’s Birthday Ball Commission and $4,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Amid growing recognition of the research being conducted by USC medical school faculty, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis makes a $10,000 contribution to the school’s bacteriology research fund.
USC purchases land adjacent to the County Hospital as the nucleus of a medical campus. The National Heart Institute announces a $485,000 grant for USC to build a four-story building for cardiovascular and cancer research. The National Cancer Institute follows with $200,000 to add a fifth floor to the facility, later named the Raulston Medical Research Building.

Daniel C. Pease, assistant professor of anatomy, and Richard F. Baker, assistant professor of experimental medicine, take the world’s first photograph of genes with an electron microscope

The Raulston Medical Research Building, named after former medical school dean Burrell Raulston, is completed and dedicated.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approve a contract to compensate the USC School of Medicine for its services at the County Hospital which had heretofore been provided free of charge.
USC turns 75 and the medical school launches a Diamond Jubilee Campaign, to raise money for two new buildings: the Paul S. McKibben Hall and the Seeley Wintersmith Mudd Laboratory of Medical Science. The buildings open in 1961.
USC introduces a Doctor-Patient Relations program to its medical school curriculum.
USC is awarded grants to develop a standardized patient program—using actors to help train medical students—and to create a mannequin, later dubbed Sim One, which could simulate the physiological responses of a human body.
Two additional medical school buildings are completed on the Health Sciences Campus. In September, the Hoffman Medical Research Building is dedicated, while December brings the opening of the Norris Medical Library.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors vote to change the name of the County Hospital to the Los Angeles County+University of Southern California Medical Center.

The John Edward Bishop Building, located between the Raulston and McKibben buildings, is completed.
USC forms the first academic Department of Emergency Medicine in the nation.
USC faculty organize the population-based cancer registry for L.A. County called the Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP).
Proposition C, funding a 75-bed cancer hospital and 125,000 square foot research facility on the grounds of LAC+USC Medical Center, receives 58% affirmative votes—short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. USC moves forward with the concept as its first independent health care facility.
USC President John Hubbard announces plans for a large, state-of-the-art cancer center to be built adjacent to the medical school.
With an initial budget of $24 million, construction begins on the new Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Named after a private donor, Kenneth T. Norris, Jr., the Center combines research with patient care, earns a “Comprehensive” designation from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of only seven that become the original comprehensive cancer centers in the nation.
The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center opens on February 3rd.
The Medical School celebrates its centennial.

The 5P21 HIV/AIDS Clinic opens at the dawning of the AIDS epidemic, quickly becoming a national model for AIDS care.

Ground is broken for the state-of-the-art USC University Hospital complex, designed to accommodate all clinical departments and specialties, and help recruit and retain superior clinical faculty and expand patient care on campus.
The medical school launches the MD/PhD program.
The W. M. Keck Foundation makes a $3 million grant to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center for an ambulatory care center.
The eight-story, 275-bed, $150 million USC University Hospital opens on campus and is staffed by the faculty of the USC School of Medicine.
Vaughn Starnes, MD, Hastings Professor of Surgery, performs the world’s first double lobar lung transplant from living-related donors at USC University Hospital.
The National Institutes of Health awards a $5.5 million grant to the Department of Neurology for a multidisciplinary stroke program.
The National Cancer Institute awards the Institute for Genetic Medicine a $6 million grant to support gene therapy research as it applies to cancer. The grant funds five programs to be conducted over four years at the Joint Gene Therapy Program of the IGM and USC Norris as well as the Gene Therapy Program at CHLA.
In March, the Norman Topping Tower opens at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, honoring USC’s seventh president and a great champion of the cancer center.
A joint MD/PhD program is established with the California Institute of Technology.

USC ophthalmology researchers receive $6 million from the National Eye Institute for a landmark study of eye health in the Los Angeles Latino community.

The W.M. Keck Foundation gives $110 million to USC’s medical school. The gift marked the largest philanthropic gift ever made to a U.S. medical school at that time. In recognition of W. M. Keck Foundation’s gift, the USC School of Medicine is renamed the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Keck School surgeons Rick Selby, MD, and Nicholas Jabbour, MD, perform the first living-related “bloodless” liver transplant.
The 125,000 square foot Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, funded by a $20 million gift from businessman and philanthropist Selim Zilkha, as well as funding from the Weingart Foundation and Ahmanson Foundation, opens on campus.
The Eli & Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC is founded as part of the university’s strategy to take stem cell research developed in the lab and integrate it directly into therapies.
Carmen A. Puliafito, MD, becomes dean of the Keck School of Medicine.
The Institute for Global Health is established as an interdisciplinary center designed to address global challenges including tobacco consumption, decreased physical activity and increased environmental degradation.
Annual sponsored research funding reaches $250 million, with $34 million being awarded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as NIH stimulus grants.

USC acquires two hospitals, USC Norris Cancer Hospital and USC University Hospital, from Tenet Healthcare Corp., creating a new USC academic medical center.

The Keck School earns the maximum eight-year accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the best results achieved since a 10-year accreditation was granted in 1981.

The School jumps five places, from 39th to 34th in the U.S. New & World Report magazine rankings of best medical schools in the nation.

USC receives a $150 million naming gift from the W. M. Keck Foundation to accelerate groundbreaking medical, clinical and translational research and education. This is the second transformative gift the Keck Foundation has made in recent years to USC’s medical enterprise, following its historic $110 million gift in 1999 to the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

In recognition of the Keck Foundation gift, USC’s academic medical enterprise was named Keck Medicine of USC in perpetuity. It comprises the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes Keck Hospital of USC, USC Norris Cancer Hospital and USC’s faculty physician practice.

Groundbreaking research by Keck School of Medicine researchers selected as one of Science magazine’s top 10 Breakthroughs of 2010.

With the transformative gift from the Keck Foundation, USC launches the Keck Medicine Initiative aiming to raise $1.5 billion– 25 percent of the overall campaign goal. The initiative focuses on four priorities within USC’s academic medical center: advancing research, enriching medical education, enhancing patient care, and strengthening infrastructure.

Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital placed among the best hospitals in the nation in the 2011-12 U.S. News & World Report magazine’s rankings of “America’s Best Hospitals.” Additionally, 134 USC physicians were featured in 2011-12 U.S. News & World Report magazine’s rankings of “Top Doctors.”

The School jumps three places, from 34th to 31st in the U.S. New & World Report magazine rankings of best medical schools in the nation.

The Department of Ophthalmology brands the USC Eye Institute, naming Mark Humayun, MD, PhD, as its inaugural director and furthering its continued recognition among the top ten ophthalmology programs in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.