The early part of the 21st century has seen seismic shifts that, for most universities, have posed serious challenges. But, while so many have wrestled with difficult financial decisions since the recession, USC was making investments that set it on course to become a major force in academic medicine, President C. L. Max Nikias, PhD,  said, before a standing-room-only crowd in Mayer Auditorium on Oct. 9.

“For us, uncertainty was the beginning of a great adventure,” said Nikias.

Nikias was referring to USC’s purchase in 2009 of Keck Hospital of USC and the USC Norris Hospital, the bold move that initiated five years of sweeping change for Keck Medicine of USC.

Since then, Keck Medicine of USC has fanned out from its home on the Health Sciences Campus, opening and acquiring clinics and a hospital across Southern California. It has also successfully recruited new world-class faculty from schools such as Harvard University and Stanford University, a sign of Keck Medicine of USC’s growing prominence in academic medicine. It has also launched major research initiatives such as two new research centers funded by $23 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health devoted to brain research (see story above).

These investments gave USC a competitive advantage moving into the future, said Nikias, because health sciences are going to become increasingly more important.

One-third of the university’s current fundraising campaign, which set of a goal of $6 billion, is dedicated to fund biological sciences and health care, said Nikias. And so, while so much change has already taken place, he said much more change is on its way for Keck Medicine of USC.

“We want to be the largest, academically most elite health system in Southern California with a global presence in medicine, biological sciences, translational research, biotechnology and patient care,” Nikias said.

— By Hope Hamashige