Excellence Today, Breakthroughs Tomorrow

In the Department of Surgery, researchers and clinicians in every division do more than offer the most advanced specialty care. They also develop and perfect groundbreaking new therapies and devices. We give rising surgeons the rigorous training they need to develop exceptional surgical skills and offer compassionate care to their patients. 

Training & Education

The Department of Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine has a long tradition of training excellent clinical surgeons. The Department of Surgery earmarks over $1.5 million every year in support of the educational programs for residents, fellows and medical students.

The entrance of Los Angeles General Medical CenterLos Angeles General Medical Center

Residents rotate through L.A. General, including its Level 1 Trauma Center and state-of-the-art Burn Center, working with world-renowned surgeons while offering vital service to under-resourced communities across the city. With a rare level of autonomy, this is  an unparalleled training experience.

Message from the Chair

Our residents work with world-class surgeons and one of the world’s most diverse patient populations. I look forward to guiding you on the most difficult and rewarding challenge of your life.

Distinguished Professor Vaughn Starnes, MD
Photo of Vaughn A. Starnes, MD, in a business suit

About Vaughn A. Starnes, MD

Dr. Starnes is a Hastings Distinguished Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Chair of the Department of Surgery, and holder of the H. Russell Smith Foundation Chair for Stem Cell and Cardiovascular Thoracic Research. He was honored to serve as the 100th President of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. Starnes pioneered the living-related double lobar lung transplant in 1993. He and his surgical team also performed Southern California’s first robotic heart operation in 2001 as part of the clinical trial evaluating the use of a remote surgical system. He has an ongoing interest in congenital heart disease and in minimally invasive repair and replacement of the valves of the heart.

The Maestro

Dr. Starnes came to USC in 1992. He was named Chairman of the Cardiothoracic Surgery in 1997 and Chairman of the Department of Surgery in 2008. As the founding Executive Director of the USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute, Dr. Starnes has built an interdisciplinary powerhouse comprised of clinicians and basic scientists who are exploring better and more innovative ways of treating heart disease.



10-year survival, open-heart mitral valve surgery


critical care patients each year at Keck Hospital and LA General Medical Center


& only transfusion-free liver transplant program in western U.S.


active research grants totaling $34.5 million


three-year survival rate for pediatric liver transplants


of our gastrointestinal procedures are performed with minimally invasive techniques

Support Us

You can help shape the future of surgery. From enhancing care to seeding surgical advances, training the next generation to backing faculty and facilities, your gift is a powerful act of partnership.