USC Medical School Dean Joins CIRM Board

Carolyn C. Meltzer, MD, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has been appointed to the board overseeing the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). CIRM is the voter-created agency that funds stem cell research throughout the state.

“Stem cell research holds the tremendous promise to unlock health solutions that patients need,” said Steven D. Shapiro, MD, USC’s senior vice president for health affairs. “The CIRM board—and the people of our state—will benefit greatly from Meltzer’s wide-ranging leadership experience and place at the forefront of her field. I look forward to the big leaps forward that California regenerative medicine will take with her guidance.”

Meltzer was appointed to the CIRM board by Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. In all, there are 35 Californians on the board, encompassing patients, advocates, researchers, educators and professionals from the biotechnology industry — all dedicated to accelerating world-class science to deliver transformative regenerative medicine treatments. CIRM invested $486.3 million in discovery, translational and clinical research, as well as education and infrastructure, during the 2023–2024 fiscal year.

“It’s an honor to be called to service on behalf of the people of California,” said Meltzer, holder of the May S. and John H. Hooval, M.D., Dean’s Chair and professor of radiology in the Keck School. “We’re in the midst of an age of discovery in medicine, with game-changing potential for addressing the gamut of serious disease. CIRM has been a major driver of progress in stem cell science and regenerative medicine, and I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues there to create the greatest health impact possible for all.”

The members of CIRM’s board serve on 11 subcommittees and on the three working groups that provide recommendations regarding CIRM funding, ethical standards and facilities.

Meltzer is an expert in neuroradiology and nuclear medicine and has conducted research to understand the brain’s structure and function during normal aging, Alzheimer’s disease and psychiatric disorders in later life. She also specializes in optimizing new technologies to benefit human health, including the assessment of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in medical imaging and overseeing the clinical evaluation of the world’s first combined PET (positron emission tomography)/CT (computed tomography); this latter technology has revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment monitoring of patients with cancer.

She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Distinguished Service Award from the American Medical Association, the Gold Medal Award from the Association of University Radiologists and the Outstanding Researcher Award and Gold Medal from the American Society of Neuroradiology. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Academy Council of Distinguished Investigators in the Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research.

Meltzer earned her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed her graduate medical education at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology and neurobiology with honors from Cornell University.

CIRM was established in 2004 with the voter-approved Proposition 71. New funding was authorized by the people of California in November 2020 through Proposition 14, called the Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative, which allowed for additional grants, strengthened oversight and an expanded governing board. Meltzer was appointed to a position on the CIRM board that is designated for an executive officer of a California research institute.