M. Elizabeth Fini, Ph.D., '76

Director of USC Institute for Genetic Medicine
University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California


Dr. M. Elizabeth Fini currently serves as Director of the USC Institute for Genetic Medicine, a multidisciplinary research department reporting to the Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. She is appointed as a tenured 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.