New research center opens next month

Beginning in October, a new research center at USC will be conducting research about health policy in hopes of reforming the health debate in the country.

Funded by a $1.2 million donation made by Leonard D. Schaeffer, a health care executive and professor at USC, and his wife, Pamela Schaeffer, the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics will feature work done mainly by USC’s School of Policy, Planning and Development and USC’s School of Pharmacy.

Primarily a research facility, the new Schaeffer Center will investigate how to provide research on health policy and economics, how to offer better care delivery systems, how to regulate and assist with financing and how to train researchers, said Jack Knott, dean of the policy, planning and development school. The center’s ultimate goal will be to produce knowledge for a better health care system.

Knott said the center will focus on real needs, such as those of the aging baby boom generation. The information the research provides will be disseminated to policymakers and the community in hopes of influencing the decision-making process.

The center will also aim to have an international impact.

Neeraj Sood, who will spearhead the center’s international research, said the center hopes to provide an outlet for developing countries to share ideas about health policy reform.

“We will be gathering information from other countries, correcting gaps in our data and providing innovative solutions to help solve their health policy problems,” Sood said.

Sood said the center also intends to hold an annual conference on health policy and economics that will be open to people from all over the world.

“We hope that our research will be mutually beneficial for the US and other economies,” Sood said.

Geoffrey Joyce, associate professor of clinical pharmacy and pharmaceutical economics and policy, said he hopes the Schaeffer Center will make USC one of the leading centers for health policy research.

“By getting a critical mass of health policy and health economics research going, it’s just going to bring in all the talent at USC and make it even stronger,” Joyce said. “There are lots of people who are good researchers at the medical school … but you need a critical mass to develop a major research center and research agenda.”

Joyce said it is important to attract other researchers to take advantage of different perspectives.

“We bring data on millions of people over many years from different sources, private employers, Medicare, Medicaid, so that the data becomes sort of a reason to attract researchers from other disciplines,” Joyce said.

Besides the donation, the Schaeffer Center is also funded by grants various faculty members have received from the National Institute of Health and other federal agencies, according to a press release. Those involved with the center are hoping Schaeffer may donate again down the road.

“We’re hoping that after four years that he will want to endow the center with a larger gift, but if not, the center will be sustained by research grants from the National Institute of Health, the National Institute [on] Aging and other grants,” Knott said.

Dana Goldman, former director of the RAND Corporation’s health economics, finance and organization division, will head the Schaeffer Center.