HSC Weekly 2012-10-26
Keck School of Medicine poised for growth, development
By Hope Hamashige
The Keck School of Medicine of USC has experienced years of dramatic change, and more change is on the horizon, Dean Carmen A. Puliafito said at the Oct. 9 Town Hall meeting.
“The medical landscape is changing as is the world of academic medicine,” Puliafito told the crowd gathered in Mayer Auditorium. “It is now big business.”
While the big changes in the past have been the result of internal developments—the naming gift from the W. M. Keck Foundation and the split with a corporate partner—outside forces are at work now, and it is up to the academic medical centers to adapt.
Specifically, the Affordable Care Act and the changing budget for the National Institutes of Health—an unprecedented force in the growth and development of academic medical research—are going to put all academic medical centers to the test in coming years.
The future of academic medicine, as Puliafito described it, involves juggling all the traditional responsibilities of teaching, research and running clinical practices, but with a new priority on economic competitiveness.
Likewise, the institution is going to have to embrace the fact that the NIH has made it clear that its priority is going to be funding basic scientific research that has the possibility of evolving into a clinical translation.
The best way to encourage such research, said Puliafito, is to help build a stable institution with top leaders. “We need security in order to foster creativity,” he said.
Part of the stability equation is going to be increasing the Keck School’s endowment, which Puliafito said needs to more than double in order to bring it to the level of USC’s “peers.”
In general, raising money is going to have to be a major priority and not just for the endowment for the Keck School. Puliafito added that creating a campus with better facilities and more amenities is going to carry a huge price tag, which is going to require a major philanthropic effort. The Keck Medicine Initiative, part of the Campaign for the University of Southern California, is the name of the fundraising effort that is underway to raise $1.5 billion for various projects on the Health Sciences campus.
Hurdles aside, Puliafito also emphasized that the changes that took place in the recent past have put the Keck School in a place where it is poised to grow.
“We are well positioned to step into the brave new world of health care,” Puliafito said.
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