Newswise — LOS ANGELES – The Keck School of Medicine of USC has appointed Ricky Bluthenthal, PhD, to a newly created role: Associate Dean for Social Justice. He is currently a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and a member of the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research at the Keck School.

In his new role, Bluthenthal will establish a new Office for Social Justice within the Dean’s office to address issues like community health, disparities in the provision of health services and treatment, fairness in public health policy, and advocacy for the fair distribution of health services and treatment. 

“All people should receive basic benefits from the ‘institutions of society’ based on justice, fairness and the advancements of the public good,” says Laura Mosqueda, MD, dean of the Keck School and professor of family medicine. “The appointment of Ricky Bluthenthal as associate dean for social justice advances the Keck School’s priority of advocating for local underserved communities and beyond.”

A key first step in the establishment of the new Office of Social Justice will be a “Listening Tour,” where Bluthenthal will engage with community leaders, Keck School and Keck Medicine of USC leaders, faculty, staff and university colleagues in identifying and prioritizing areas of focus.

An important second area of effort will be in developing curricula for medical and graduate students that explore issues such as how social justice relates to access to health care and fairness in public health policy, as well as to develop opportunities for advocacy.

“It is a great pleasure to lead the Office of Social Justice,” Bluthenthal says. “This is the first of many steps the Keck School hopes to take toward decreasing disparities and promoting equality in access to quality care and fair policies across the board.”

Throughout his career, Bluthenthal has been an active participant in social justice reforms for minority groups and disadvantaged members of society as he has worked closely with community-based organizations. He conducted the California Syringe Exchange Study, one of the first statewide studies of its kind in the United States. He also worked closely with local communities addressing depression in the African-American and Latino communities and the HIV prevention needs of recently incarcerated bisexual African-American men, and led a community-based participatory research project that addressed multiple risk factors among Latino adolescents and their parents through a multi-session mindfulness intervention in East Los Angeles.

Bluthenthal is a renowned researcher in epidemiology and prevention for HIV infection for injection drug users and gay men, drug use epidemiology, health disparities and community influences on health behaviors and risks, and has published more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

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About the Keck School of Medicine of USC

Founded in 1885, the Keck School of Medicine of USC is among the nation’s leaders in innovative patient care, scientific discovery, education and community service. The school has more than 1,850 full-time faculty members and voluntary faculty of more than 2,400 physicians. These faculty direct the education of approximately 800 medical students and 1,000 students pursuing graduate and postgraduate degrees. The school trains more than 900 resident physicians in more than 50 specialty or subspecialty programs and is the largest educator of physicians practicing in Southern California. Keck School faculty also conduct research and teach at several research centers and institutes, including the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC, USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute, USC Institute of Urology, USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, USC Roski Eye Institute and Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute.

In 2018, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Keck School among the top 35 medical schools in the country.

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