Laura Mosqueda, MD, is stepping down as dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and will take on a new role spearheading efforts to expand and advance geriatrics at the university.

The announcement was made Monday in a memo from Provost Charles F. Zukoski to the Keck School community. Mosqueda will continue to serve as dean until Sept. 15. Narsing Rao, the Grace and Emery Beardsley Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, will take over as interim dean.

Mosqueda was appointed interim dean on Oct. 6, 2017. She took over as dean on May 1, 2018, becoming the first woman to lead the school since it was established in 1885.

“Serving as dean of the Keck School of Medicine has been an honor,” Mosqueda said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Interim Dean Rao on a smooth transition and to returning to geriatrics at a time when the field is poised for exponential growth and innovation.”

Provost Zukoski said in his statement that Mosqueda “has led with conviction, courage, and clarity, always with an eye on doing the right thing and treating people with fairness, candor, and respect.” 

“Under her leadership, KSOM recruited world-class faculty, transformative physicians and staff, and promoted a culture of greater accountability and transparency, delivering on her commitment to ensure an inclusive, diverse, and safer environment. … She has an unwavering dedication to KSOM’s students and has been an important role model and advocate for KSOM’s female students, staff, and faculty.”

Zukoski added that Mosqueda “rose swiftly to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. She rapidly established research teams to explore issues associated with the disease and, with the help of the W.M. Keck Foundation, launched a $4 million research program that is transforming our understanding of the disease and how it can be treated. She led KSOM during this critical time and created programs across the University and in the broader community to provide reliable, useful information to promote safety and prevent community spread of the virus.”

The pandemic has hit the elderly especially hard, and it’s in this area where Mosqueda will turn her focus — with strong backing from USC.

“The devastating impact of the pandemic on older adults exposed existing vulnerabilities that only now are being widely recognized as important in their care, even unrelated to COVID-19,” Zukoski wrote. “Dean Mosqueda’s deep knowledge, innovations, and leadership skills will be invaluable to the University, the medical profession, and communities in reassessing and reshaping programs in geriatric health and elder justice. To that end, the University will be providing substantial resources to build out a world-class geriatrics program.”

A professor of family medicine and geriatrics, and a professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, Mosqueda served as associate dean of primary care and was Chair of Family Medicine. Mosqueda heads the National Center on Elder Abuse, a federally funded initiative that focuses on improving response to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. In her advocacy role, she has testified before Congress and has been invited to the White House to discuss elder justice initiatives.

“I’ve always had a real affinity for older adults, even as a little kid,” Mosqueda told USC News in August 2018. “Part of it, I’m sure, is because I had wonderful grandparents.”

Mosqueda, who graduated from the Keck School in 1987, worked at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine for 14 years. She joined the KSOM faculty in 2004.

Zukoski praised Rao’s “deep knowledge and experience” and that the administration is “confident that the transitional period will be smooth while we identify a strong leader for the school.”

— By Landon Hall