Newswise — The University of Southern California (USC) today officially installed Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., as dean of the Keck School of Medicine, in an academic ceremony on the USC Health Sciences Campus.

An ophthalmologist who earned his medical degree at Harvard University and M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Puliafito most recently served as director of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

He will be the 22nd dean to oversee the school of medicine since it opened in 1885.

"I was attracted by USC's extraordinary commitment to the Keck School's growth and success, a dynamic clinical and basic science faculty, superb new hospital and laboratory facilities, and USC's unparalleled support for meeting the health care needs of the Los Angeles community," says Puliafito. "We have a lot of work ahead of us "and much to look forward to."

In addition to the deanship at USC, Puliafito now also serves as Professor of Ophthalmology and Health Management and the holder of the May S. and John Hooval Dean's Chair in Medicine. The appointment is for a five-year and eight months term, which began Nov. 1. He reports directly to Max Nikias, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

"We believe this heralds a moment of transformation for the Keck School," said Nikias when he announced Puliafito's appointment in August. "The school is poised for extraordinary growth, thanks to the efforts of a stellar group of faculty, staff, alumni, friends and the guidance and support of the W.M. Keck Foundation. Dr. Puliafito will now take charge as a researcher, teacher, clinician, inventor, administrator and fundraiser of singular quality—able to advance the school to the front ranks of American medical schools in terms of research, teaching and patient care."

The purpose of the dean's installation ceremony is to consecrate the person and the purpose. It is an opportunity to recognize the moment in history, to formally introduce and welcome the incumbent, and to hear from the dean of his vision and mission for the school.

Several hundred Keck School faculty, staff, students and friends attended the outdoor ceremony, led by USC President Steven B. Sample.

"I am humbled by the welcome I have received from so many faculty, staff and students and friends " here at Keck, across USC and in the community," says Puliafito. "The installation ceremony is a special day for all of us as we look to the future of the Keck School of Medicine, which is poised to become a leader in American medicine."

His colleagues have described Puliafito as a rare leader whose achievements in organizational leadership, research, teaching and patient care rest on a foundation of outstanding medical scholarship and clinical practice. His research interests include vitreoretinal diagnostics, laser technologies, ophthalmic education and ophthalmology practice management.

A native of Buffalo, New York, Puliafito is married to Janet Pine, M.D., a former classmate at Harvard Medical School. They have three children: Amy, 23, a graduate of Northwestern University; Ben, 17; and Sam, 14. The family now resides in Pasadena.

Puliafito is an award-winning philatelist (collector and student of postage stamps), an expert on the early history of the U.S. postal service, and a runner who has completed the Boston Marathon and numerous half-marathons.

Puliafito succeeds Brian Henderson, M.D., an internationally recognized cancer epidemiologist, who remains on the Keck School of Medicine faculty, returning fulltime to his research endeavors.

Henderson and former Keck School deans Stephen J. Ryan, Robert Tranquada, Joseph Van Der Meulen and Allen Mathies all attended the installation ceremony.

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The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California:

Founded in 1885, the Keck School of Medicine of USC is a major center for basic and clinical biomedical research, especially in the fields of cancer, gene therapy, the neurosciences and metabolic disease. The school today has more than 1,100 full-time faculty members and a voluntary faculty of more than 3,700 physicians. These faculty direct the studies of approximately 650 medical students and more than 400 students pursuing graduate degrees. The school's postgraduate programs provide training for 1,300 residents fellows and interns annually.

The Keck School of Medicine has meant better health for people around the globe in all fields of medical care. Through 14 affiliated hospitals, USC physicians serve more than one million patients each year. Hospitals staffed by USC physicians include USC University Hospital, USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, Doheny Eye Institute, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, one of the largest teaching hospitals in the nation.