Grace Richter, MD, MPH
Dr. Grace Richter came to Keck as a visiting medical student and was immediately drawn to the intellectual yet friendly culture. USC was her first choice for ophthalmology residency, and she was fortunate to match and attend such a well-regarded, top program. She couldn’t have asked for a better residency experience than what was provided here. The breadth of clinical exposure, the top notch faculty, and the academic environment during residency provided her with a phenomenal training experience and cultivated her interest in academic medicine. Now on faculty for four years, Dr. Richter has greatly enjoyed developing her research interests, using OCT Angiography to better understand and diagnose glaucoma, as well as developing her clinical practice using the newest treatments in minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. Dr. Richter also still finds time to volunteer abroad with cataract surgery mission trips, which she finds to be immensely rewarding.
Dr. Richter feels that Keck is a wonderful school that embraces intellectual curiosity, provides wonderful career development resources for its faculty, and believes in investing in junior clinician scientists. By doing so, it is investing in the future of medicine and science.
Dr. Richter gets the most enjoyment when seeing her patients. When she sees a patient who she has helped in a lasting and meaningful way, Dr. Richter feels so fulfilled and knows that all of the work she does, not only seeing patients but doing research to advance the field, are all worthwhile. Working at Keck makes her proud to be contributing to the future of medicine.
James Buxbaum, MD, Faculty
Over the past ten years Dr. James Buxbaum has developed an active clinical research program which is closely integrated with his teaching and clinical role as an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Endoscopy Director at the Los Angeles County Hospital. During his time here, Dr. Buxbaum has had the opportunity to mentor enthusiastic trainees, lead exciting randomized controlled trials, and develop clinical programs focusing on endoscopic ultrasound, small bowel enteroscopy, and the management of complex pancreatic disease.
Dr. Buxbaum feels that the Los Angeles County and Keck Hospitals of USC provide an unparalled setting to conduct novel clinical trials. Additionally, since its inception, LAC+USC has played a chief role in training the physicians who serve Southern California. Additionally, the institution has consistently played a critical role in caring for the patients who are the sickest and have the greatest need. Dr. Buxbaum looks forward to helping the Keck School remain the strongest center for clinical research, physician training, and care for the underserved in the western United States.
Dr. Buxbaum’s favorite experiences have been working with USC Medical Students, Internal Medicine Residents, and Gastroenterology Fellows on clinical trials in the Endoscopy Unit at the Los Angeles County Hospital. It is a unique experience in which teaching, patient care, and research intersect. Dr. Buxbaum believes that the Keck School of Medicine provides a unique environment where one can freely pursue intellectual goals and create new clinical programs in an extraordinarily collegial environment.
Caroline Hwang, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
As the director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Keck Medical Center at USC, Dr. Hwang’s focus is on providing advanced multidisciplinary care to patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. She is a part of a team where gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, dieticians and social workers work closely to ensure a comprehensive model of care. The core team of IBD-specialists and nurses meets weekly to discuss patients with poorly-controlled disease or psychosocial challenges. A monthly academic conference is also held to discuss complex cases at both Keck and LA County that benefit from multidisciplinary discussion and serve as good teaching cases for trainees. Dr. Hwang’s research is on genetic and phenotypic variations in ethnic minorities with IBD, clinical outcomes and risks of IBD therapy, pharmacoepidemiology, pharmacoeconomics, and nutritional complications and therapies for IBD. Additionally, she has been active at the national level on improving quality in IBD care, including serving as the project lead in the development and implementation of a Nutritional Care Pathway for a multi-site, multi-year research initiative called IBD Qorus.
Dr. Hwang was drawn to Keck because of the unique opportunities to study the convergence of environmental factors, genetic predisposition, and immune dysregulation. The incidence of IBD around the world has been increasing, with some of the fastest growth within immigrant groups from Central America and Asia. Los Angeles (and specifically Keck and LA-County Hospital) is the ultimate living laboratory for isolating the environmental triggers that are linked to the risk of developing IBD and ethnic differences in disease course and response to medications. She has helped to develop a biorepository of over 1,500 Latino patients with IBD with intentions to double this within the next year and collaborate with translational scientists further our work on identifying genetic variation and susceptibility to disease among racial and ethnic minorities
The everyday clinical moments when patients express to her that because of the care that was provided at Keck, they have gotten their lives back – returning to work, to school, engagement with their families – this is what makes Dr. Hwang’s work meaningful to her. This disease, which is characterized by distressing symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue, can be disabling, socially-isolating and turn a patient’s life upside-down. She enjoys being able to help educate patients about the disease and how immunomodulatory medications can be effective in decreasing gut inflammation. Additionally, Dr. Hwang finds teaching to also be incredibly rewarding. With the advent of technology into medicine, teaching trainees about the art of medicine – an in-depth history and physical exam – is more important than ever. She has been successful in mentoring several gastroenterology fellows to pursue academic careers in IBD and further contribute to advancing the clinical care and scientific understanding of this disease.
Over the past decade, Dr. Desai has gone from being a student to his current role as the Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Radiology here at KSOM. He has found the entire experience to be very rewarding and fulfilling. He is honored to be leading the research division in the department of Radiology during this time of growth and transformation. Leveraging the strengths of the institution, the department of Radiology is poised to be one of the leading translational research departments in the country. Collaborating with outstanding faculty across various disciplines to integrate imaging science, IT and health services research with core strengths in the neurosciences, cancer research, cardiovascular disease, and multi-omics, the department is developing novel imaging biomarkers, new imaging-based algorithms of care, best practices and guidelines that can be tailored to the most appropriate, cost-effective and beneficial care on a global basis.
When Dr. Desai began his role as the Vice Chair of Research for Radiology, there was just a small research division with approximately 5-10 active research studies. Over the last 3 years, a culture change was introduced, which was very well received by the faculty and thanks to their support and enthusiasm, the department now has a research division comprising of more than 20 research staff and research faculty who manage approximately 70 funded clinical research studies. The research portfolio has diversified and the research revenue has increased four-fold. In the near future, there are plans to foster collaborative research at the institutional level by establishing additional forums – such as retreats, speaker series, and journal clubs – to promote fruitful interaction between scientists across various disciplines.
What drew Dr. Desai to USC was the potential to be innovative and collaborative with a whole host of disciplines across the breadth of USC. Many of the elements that improve the quality of life for people come from discoveries that occur at universities. Part of his responsibility is to help the faculty and next generation of imaging scientists by building state-of-the-art research infrastructure. When research dollars are brought to the university, it not only helps the faculty and students, but people in the state and help drive the economy, creates jobs, and creates companies that can help stimulate the economy. Dr. Desai finds that nothing is more exciting than being a part of this transformational change.
As Vice Chair of Research for the Department of Radiology, Dr. Desai finds great joy and meaning in fostering the research careers of the next generation of radiology residents and medical students.