University of Southern California
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USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology

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Assistant Professor Valter Longo explores a new way to look at the aging process. His much debated "group selection" theory challenges Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection by rejecting the long-accepted theory that aging, like evolution, happens on an individual level.

The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, opened in 1975, is the first professional school of gerontology in the United States. The School of Gerontology is the instructional division of the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center. The Gerontology Center was established in 1964 as a major research and training institute for the study of aging. The school is able to draw upon the rich and supportive environment of the center to offer a wide range of professional and scientific courses.

The major purpose of the school is to prepare professionals at the undergraduate, master's and doctoral levels for work in programs, organizations, agencies and businesses which address the needs of an aging population. This includes the education of administrators, program planners, policy analysts, researchers, instructors and direct service personnel for employment in government, human services, social services, health care, education, recreation and private enterprise.

The school functions as a multidisciplinary educational institution with faculty members representing the major professional and disciplinary fields related to gerontology.

The curriculum provides each student with a firm understanding of the basic concepts and research of gerontology in addition to developing professional skills in a particular area through field practice, course work and research.

Andrus Gerontology Center 102
(213) 740-5156
FAX: (213) 740-0792


Elizabeth Zelinski, Ph.D., Dean and Executive Director of the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center

John Walsh, Ph.D., Director, Leonard Davis School of Gerontology


William and Sylvia Kugel Dean's Chair in Gerontology: Elizabeth M. Zelinsky, Ph.D.

AARP University Chair in Gerontology: Vern L. Bengtson, Ph.D.*

ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Chair in the Neurobiology of Aging: Caleb E. Finch, Ph.D.

James E. Birren Chair in Gerontology: Kelvin J.A. Davies, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Edna M. Jones Chair in Gerontology: Eileen Crimmins, Ph.D.*

UPS Foundation Chair in Gerontology: Jon Pynoos, Ph.D.*

The Chinese-American Golden Age Association/Dr. Frances Wu Endowed Chair in Social Welfare Policy and Services to the Chinese Elderly, the Elderly and the Handicapped: Iris Chi, Ph.D. (Social Work)

Merle H. Bensinger Professorship in Gerontology: Bob Knight, Ph.D.

Albert L. and Madelyne G. Hanson Family Trust Assistant Professorship: Christian Pike, Ph.D.

Mary Pickford Foundation Professorship in Gerontology: Kathleen Wilber, Ph.D.

Professors: William Bondareff, M.D., Ph.D. (Medicine); Margaret Gatz, Ph.D. (Psychology); Martin Levine, Ph.D. (Law, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences); Roseann Mulligan, D.D.S. (Dentistry); Robert C. Myrtle, D.P.A. (Policy, Planning, and Development); Victor Regnier, M.Arch. (Architecture); Edward L. Schneider, M.D.; Lon Schneider, M.D. (Psychiatry and Neurology); Merril Silverstein, Ph.D.; John Tower, Ph.D. (Biological Sciences); Kathleen Wilber, Ph.D.*

Associate Professors: Phoebe Liebig, Ph.D.*; Loren G. Lipson, M.D. (Medicine); Jeffrey McCombs, Ph.D. (Pharmacy); Michal Mor-Barak, D.S.W. (Social Work); Mike Nichol, Ph.D. (Pharmacy); John Walsh, Ph.D.*; Bradley R. Williams, Pharm.D. (Clinical Pharmacy)

Assistant Professors: Maria Aranda, Ph.D. (Social Work); Valter Longo, Ph.D.; Christian Pike, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor: Roseann Giarrusso, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professors: Donna Benton, Ph.D.; Gennady Ermak, Ph.D.; Todd Morgan, Ph.D.; Gia Robinson Shurgot, Ph.D. (Psychology); Lisa Shugarman, Ph.D.; Ana Marie Yamada, Ph.D. (Social Work)

Adjunct Professors: Gerald A. Larue, Ph.D.* (Religion); Fernando Torres-Gil, Ph.D.*

Adjunct Associate Professors: Bryan Kemp, Ph.D.; Monika White, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professors: Debra Sheets, Ph.D.; Carl Renold, Ph.D.; Marlene Wagner, Ph.D. (Literature)

Clinical Associate Professors: Raquel D. Arias, M.D.; Michael Gilewski, Ph.D.; Anne Katz, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor: Freddi Segal-Gidan, Ph.D.; Dory Sabata, OTD

Emeritus Professors: James E. Birren, Ph.D.; David A. Peterson, Ph.D.

Emeritus Research Associate Professor: Richard Davis, Ph.D.

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.


The Leonard Davis School of Gerontology offers an undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Science in Gerontology, undergraduate classes through the Health and Humanity major in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and two minors in aging open to all undergraduate students. The School of Gerontology offers several graduate degrees including: Master of Science in Gerontology; an online Master of Arts in Gerontology; an online Master of Long Term Care Administration (with the Marshall School of Business and the School of Policy, Planning, and Development), and a Ph.D. in Gerontology. Non-degree graduate students may complete 16 units of gerontology and be awarded a graduate level certificate in gerontology.

Master's degree students may pursue one of several dual degrees which are jointly offered with other professional schools. These are the Master of Science in Gerontology/Master of Business Administration (M.S./M.B.A.) with the Marshall School of Business; Master of Science in Gerontology/Doctor of Dental Surgery (M.S./D.D.S.) with the School of Dentistry; Master of Science in Gerontology/Master of Public Administration (M.S./M.P.A.) with the School of Policy, Planning, and Development; Master of Science in Gerontology/Master of Health Administration (M.S./M.H.A.) with the School of Policy, Planning, and Development; Master of Science in Gerontology/Master of Social Work (M.S./M.S.W.) with the School of Social Work; Master of Science in Gerontology/Juris Doctor (M.S./J.D.) with the Gould School of Law; Master of Science in Gerontology/Master of Planning (M.S./M.Pl.) with the School of Policy, Planning, and Development; Master of Science in Gerontology/Doctor of Pharmacy (M.S./Pharm.D.) with the School of Pharmacy; and Master of Science in Gerontology/Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Services (M.S./M.A.) with Hebrew Union College.

In addition to the degree, minor and certificate programs, overview courses in aging are offered for undergraduates enrolled in other units of the university. Many gerontology courses can be credited as elective units.

Honor Society

The student honor society is Sigma Phi Omega, the national honor society formed in 1980 to recognize the excellence of those who study gerontology. The organization seeks to promote scholarship and professionalism, and to recognize exemplary attainment in the field of aging. Undergraduates must have a GPA of at least 3.3 and graduate students a GPA of at least 3.5. Sigma Phi Omega is administered by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, an educational unit of the Gerontological Society of America.

The Gerontology Research Institute

The Gerontology Research Institute initiates, designs and executes basic research on the many phases of development and aging, and provides for graduate and post-graduate training in the biological, social and behavioral sciences. Specific areas of study include neurobiology, cognitive science, histopathology, social organization behavior, human service delivery, biodemography and social policy.

The institute offers a multidisciplinary research training program in gerontology. It is directed toward graduate students pursuing the Ph.D. as well as a limited number of post-doctoral fellows who develop research and academic careers in specialized areas of gerontology. Research training is carried out within individual disciplines.

In addition to the Ph.D. in Gerontology, programs are available through the various disciplines of the university in cooperation with faculty in the research institute. Persons interested in this level of education should contact the Gerontology Research Institute, Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center, University of Southern California, University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0191.