USC names permanent dean for Keck

Rohit Varma was named dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC on Wednesday by Provost Michael Quick on behalf of President C. L. Max Nikias. Varma, who has served as interim dean since March, will also hold the May S. and John Hooval Dean’s Chair in Medicine.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have been chosen to serve the Keck School of Medicine as dean,” Varma wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan. “I am inspired by the work of our faculty, students and staff who continue to push boundaries and forge new paths in medical education, basic and clinical research and patient care. I am committed to President Nikias’ vision of becoming the premier academic medical center in Southern California, with global recognition in patient care, the basic sciences and translational research with an emphasis on biotechnology.”

Varma is a professor of ophthalmology and preventive medicine at Keck. He holds the Grace and Emery Beardsley Chair in Ophthalmology, is the chair of the USC Care Board of Directors and serves as president of USC Care. He earned his medical degree at the University of Delhi, India and a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.

Varma primarily researches eye disease in children and aging populations. He is an expert on changes in the optic nerve in glaucoma and is currently studying new imaging techniques in the early diagnosis of optic nerve damage arising from this illness.

“It’s amazing to have a dean who is so well established in his field,” said Meleeka Akbarpour, a sophomore majoring in health promotion and disease prevention. “The work that he’s done for those with glaucoma and other eye diseases is inspiring, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Keck undergraduate program grows with him as dean.”

In addition to his research, Varma is the principal investigator of the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study, the Chinese American Eye Study, the Multi-Ethnic Pediatric Eye Diseases Study and the African American Eye Disease Study. He has authored over 247 articles in peer reviewed ophthalmic journals and has co-authored two ophthalmic books.

Alexandra Hsieh contributed to this article.