A recent $10 million gift from the Gehr Family Foundation to the Keck School of Medicine of USC has established The Gehr Family Center for Implementation Science. Under the leadership of Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, assistant professor of clinical medicine, the Center will focus its research on methods for improving health care delivery in a way that raises the standards for patient care and streamlines operations for health care providers.

“Despite advanced treatments and available technology, the United States lags behind other developed nations in key outcomes, like infant mortality, life expectancy and per capita cost of health care,” Hochman said. “We want to develop ways to fix systemic issues within our health care delivery; and by implementing new practices locally, we hope to drive nationwide change.”

To encourage innovation and improvements, the Center will offer two annual research grants. The Gehr Family Innovation Award of $25,000 will be awarded to three USC faculty members involved in any discipline of health care, including dentistry, social work and occupational therapy, to pilot ideas for improving health care quality and efficiency. The Gehr Student Innovation Award will provide four USC students a $4,000 stipend and a fellowship at either Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center or Keck Medical Center to focus on one of the Gehr Center’s current projects.

Winners of the Gehr Family Innovation Award will be announced by Aug. 31. Gehr Student Innovation Award recipients will be notified by May 20 and will begin their specific projects the week of June 13.

“The USC Health Sciences Campus, with its diverse hospitals and ambulatory environments, is the ideal health care delivery laboratory to study innovators in health care delivery,” said David Goldstein, MD, vice chair for clinical affairs at the Keck School and the founder of Gehr Family Center.

Currently, the Gehr Family Center is involved in a number of projects benefiting the greater Los Angeles community. The center has partnered with AltaMed Health Services to address obesity in the Service Planning Area 7 region by improving nutrition and fitness options for residents using a holistic, community-based approach. It also is testing new models for treating depression in geriatric patients and videoconference appointments between pharmacists and those with chronic illness.

— Mary Dacuma