Keck’s rise in rankings unprecedented

USC’s Keck School of Medicine jumped five spots on the U.S. News & World Report 2010 list of the nation’s best medical schools, thanks in part to the school’s increase in research and in National Institute of Health grants.

The school’s move from the 39th to the 34th ranking in top medical schools is the greatest advance of any medical school in one year, according to Keck Dean Carmen Puliafito.

“It’s a reflection of the quality that is being recognized that is going on at the medical school,” Puliafito said.

Robert Morse, director of data research at U.S. News, said Keck’s movement is largely because of its increase in NIH grants over the last year.

NIH grants are given to advance research in the medical field.

“In this particular ranking, because the NIH grants are very important, it’s a key reason why schools move,” Morse said.

Focusing on research and applying for grant applications has been a big focus for Keck during the past two years, Puliafito said.

“Since I’ve been here, our sponsored research programs have grown by almost 30 percent,” Puliafito said. “We were very successful for organizing applications for organizing NIH grants. We were also able to get some very large cancer grants.”

The rankings are a key factor for any potential medical student looking at schools to apply for, but Morse said he doesn’t anticipate the new ranking will affect admissions because Keck is already selective.

“Our rankings haven’t made them more or less difficult to get into,” Morse said. “They reject 95 percent of the applications; it’s very difficult to get into.”

Puliafito said the rankings serve more to recognize the effort that has been put into making Keck a quality medical school.

Some students like Tyler Vestal, a sophomore majoring in psychology and biology who plans to apply for medical school next year, said they still consider the rankings when thinking about what medical school they want to attend.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the top factor, but it’s certainly an indicator of where you’re going to get a good education,” Vestal said. “You can’t personally know how good each school is, so these rankings really tell me how Keck compares to the other medical schools.”

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