An executive officer from a California University
Appointed by the Governor
Dr. Puliafito was recently reappointed to a second term as Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, a position he has held since 2007. Prior to assuming the deanship, he served as director of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Before joining Bascom Palmer, Dr. Puliafito served as founding director of the New England Eye Center and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Tufts University from 1991 to 2001.
Dr. Puliafito started his career at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard Medical School, where he was founder of the Laser Research Laboratory, director of the Morse Laser Center, a member of the Retina Service, and associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. He is recognized as co-inventor of the technology of optical coherence tomography (OCT), and was the first ophthalmologist to use this technology to study the human macula in health and disease. For his work on OCT, Dr. Puliafito was awarded (along with James Fujimoto and Eric Swanson) the 2002 Rank Prize -- the world’s most prestigious award in optoelectronics. In 2012, he was awarded (along with James Fujimoto, Eric Swanson, David Huang and Joel Schuman) the Champalimaud Vision Award, often called the “Nobel Prize for Vision.”
Throughout his career, Dr. Puliafito has been an innovator, most recently participating in the introduction of bevacizumab (Avastin) for the treatment of retinal disorders. He was the first to describe the use of a semiconductor diode laser for retinal photocoagulation, and pioneered basic science research in excimer laser photoablation and optical breakdown and photodisruption.
Dr. Puliafito is cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Medical School. He earned an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
M. Elizabeth Fini, Ph.D.
Director of USC Institute for Genetic Medicine
University of Southern California
Dr. M. Elizabeth Fini currently serves as Director of the Institute for Genetic Medicine, an interdisciplinary research department reporting to the Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. She is appointed as a professor of cell & neurobiology and ophthalmology.
Dr. Fini is best known for her scientific contributions to our understanding of diseases of the eye. In 2002, she shared the Lewis Rudin Glaucoma Prize from the New York Academy of Medicine with a clinician collaborator for discovery of a novel unifying mechanism for glaucoma pathogenesis. She has also had a significant impact as a mentor to young scientists, many of whom now hold scientific leadership positions at institutions across the United States and the world.
Dr. Fini began her faculty career at Harvard Medical School. She moved across town to Tufts Medical Center with award of the Jules & Doris Stein Research to Prevent Blindness Professorship. There she founded the cross-university Tufts Center for Vision Research and won National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to support the center. Subsequently she was recruited to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to serve as Scientific Director of the Evelyn F. & William L. McKnight Vision Research Center and the Walter G. Ross Endowed Chair. She led research faculty recruitment to the center and attracted substantial NIH, Department of Defense, and foundation funding.
Dr. Fini was recruited to USC in early 2008 to serve as Vice Dean for Research for the Keck School of Medicine of USC, a position she held for nearly five years. During this period of great change, the research volume grew by 43%, the US News & World Report rank moved up 5 points in a single year, a $57 million NIH Clinical & Translational Science Award was won, and the Keck Foundation gift was renewed for $150 million.
A native of greater Boston, Dr. Fini earned her doctoral degree at Dartmouth College and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Dartmouth Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.