USC has appointed its first senior vice president for health affairs, according to a university-wide email sent on March 11 by USC President Carol Folt.

Dr. Steven Shapiro will assume the newly created position on May 15 and will “directly oversee Keck Medicine of USC and Keck School of Medicine with oversight of associated biomedical research programs,” as well as serve as “a key member of the USC Health System Board,” according to the email.

Shapiro joins USC from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), where he served in a variety of roles over the course of 15 years.

In an interview with Annenberg Media, Shapiro described his vision for the role.

“The overall general goals really are to provide the best possible medical care for patients and to do the most outstanding research and to bring them together and kind of blur the lines between clinical medicine and research,” said Shapiro. He explained that he wants to synthesize both these aspects of health care to provide patients with “the best precision medicine care and really start to improve the outcomes of patients, and even take advantage of learning mechanisms and come up with new cures.”

USC’s announcements of Shapiro’s hiring described him as “a physician-scientist who has remained active clinically and at the lab bench,” emphasizing his work as a researcher. In her email, Folt credited Shapiro with enabling UPMC to become “a top-six institution in research funding.”

According to the USC press release announcing his hiring, “Shapiro will work with the medical enterprise’s senior leadership team to position USC as a key clinical player in the increasingly competitive Los Angeles health care market, driving a research engine with considerable resources.”

Shapiro noted that health care in Los Angeles is a “complex” and “growing market,” which contributed to his interest in making the move to USC.

“Here, there’s the opportunity to grow the clinical programs, and really to expand care to more of the community,” Shapiro said. “COVID sort of washed away all the veneer and we saw all the underlying health inequities that occur in our populations. What we need to do is to improve the general health of everyone, and I can’t think of a better place to do it.”

Shapiro said he looked forward to becoming familiar with the USC community and getting to know students, “training the next generation of healthcare leaders” and addressing racial inequality in health care.

“I just look forward to helping bring people together and letting them maximize their talent and care for the community and make Los Angeles the model community for healthcare for all,” said Shapiro.