USC leaders have named radiologist and nuclear medicine doctor Carolyn C. Meltzer as dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Currently the William P. Timmie Professor and chair of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, Meltzer will assume her new role at USC effective March 1. Her appointment comes after an extensive search involving more than 130 prospective candidates and sources from top academic medical centers, guided by an advisory committee of USC physicians and other health professionals, scientists and students.
“Carolyn Meltzer is a principled leader, innovative researcher and compassionate mentor,” President Carol L. Folt said. “Throughout her career, she has worked to expand the tent of the medical professions while conducting groundbreaking research on the brain’s structure and cancer imaging. Her inclusive leadership style — and vision for the future of medical education — aligns perfectly with the Keck School of Medicine’s core mission to improve quality of life for everyone.”
As chair of radiology at Emory University for 15 years, Meltzer has overseen more than 1,200 health providers and other employees, nine hospitals and many community-based clinics, representing a medical enterprise responsible for more than 1.5 million procedures each year. She also holds two prominent leadership roles at Emory University’s School of Medicine: the executive associate dean of faculty academic advancement, leadership and inclusion and the chief diversity and inclusion officer.
“Dr. Meltzer demonstrates the skills to take the Keck School of Medicine to the next level,” Provost Charles Zukoski said. “Under her leadership, the medical school will advance in areas of research, education, clinical care and community engagement — the foundation of a premier institution dedicated to meet the challenges of today’s and tomorrow’s health care needs.”
Meltzer will take over Southern California’s oldest medical school, established in 1885 and now a leading institution nationwide with more than 2,300 full-time and part-time faculty members, 2,000 staff members and 1,400 students. The Keck School of Medicine is also home to 26 basic and clinical academic programs and 16 major research institutes, with 1,200 resident physicians training in more than 70 specialty or subspecialty programs.
“I am thrilled to be joining USC and the Keck School of Medicine,” Meltzer said. “We are well positioned to accelerate the growth of our clinical mission to provide the highest quality care for the communities we serve, and to nurture the health care and research workforce of the future. I look forward to partnering across the institution to build on a foundation of excellence in interdisciplinary and translational biomedical discovery.”
New USC medical school dean has extensive experience in research and leadership
An expert in neuroradiology and nuclear medicine, Meltzer has conducted research to understand the brain’s structure and function during normal aging, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and psychiatric disorders in later life. She also specializes in cancer imaging research.
Her expertise in the lab served her well as associate dean for research at Emory University from 2005 to 2019. She also led the Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research as president and served on the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, where she advocated for federal investment in scientific research and biotechnology industries.
“Dr. Meltzer is the perfect choice to join our leadership team and build on the success of the Keck School of Medicine,” said Steven D. Shapiro, USC’s senior vice president for health affairs. “Her considerable breadth and depth of leadership experience will position us to lead the future of medical education and to leverage our scientific advances to promote exceptional clinical care for all patients, including the most vulnerable, as we strengthen our commitment to the community that surrounds us.”
Meltzer is also a passionate educator, mentoring more than 70 graduate and undergraduate students, medical students and postdoctoral research fellows during the course of her career. In her leadership roles at Emory University, she has emphasized values of inclusion and social justice while supporting the next generation of medical professionals.
To that end, Meltzer has emphasized faculty and staff development with a focus on diversity and inclusion. One major effort: helping launch the Emory Radiology Leadership Academy. The rigorous training program gives mid-career health workers the tools they need to advance in their profession, notably women and people from underrepresented backgrounds. When she discovered pay inequities in the radiology department, she established new salary guidelines that eliminated the pay gap between men and women within a few years.
As chair of the Radiology Society of America’s Committee on Diversity & Inclusion, Meltzer pushed for more funding resources for students from minority backgrounds and developed educational programs on unconscious bias and gender-based harassment in medicine. She also led a joint initiative between Emory University and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Health Care System to strengthen care and reduce barriers to accessing health services for military veterans.
She plans to continue that focus on equity in her new role at the Keck School of Medicine: “I am especially energized by the opportunity to join USC’s vibrant and collegial community at a time of great opportunity to address our world’s most complex health care challenges,” she said.
“Teams that bring together diverse expertise and perspectives are needed to elevate health equity as a societal imperative.”
Dedication to service and achievement define USC’s new medical school dean
Prior to Emory University, Meltzer held various academic and administrative appointments at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, including professor of radiology, neurology and psychiatry and chief of neuroradiology.
She has a lengthy history of service to the medical profession on a national level, serving on professional and advisory boards like the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies at the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Society of Neuroradiology, American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors and many others.
She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Distinguished Service Award from the American Medical Association, the Gold Medal Award from the Association of University Radiologists and the Outstanding Researcher Award and Gold Medal from the American Society of Neuroradiology. She is a member of the Academy Council of Distinguished Investigators in the Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research.
Board certified in both diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine, Meltzer also has subspecialty certification in neuroradiology and advanced training in positron emission tomography, known as PET. She participated in the prestigious Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women and is a fellow of the American College of Radiology and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
Meltzer earned her medical degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed her graduate medical education at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology and neurobiology with honors from Cornell University.