USC Davis School of Gerontology

USC Davis professor Valter Longo, left, brought a group of students to his hometown of Genoa, Italy, to study the relationship between healthy aging and lifestyle — especially food choices. “We would laugh at the irony: one minute in class, we were learning about the benefits of caloric restriction, and the next minute, we were biting into the best pesto gnocchi in the world!” said graduate student Elaine Martini.

The USC Davis School of Gerontology explores all aspects of human development and aging. Course work and research opportunities in biology, psychology, sociology, policy and aging services make up the breadth of its multidisciplinary curriculum.

Founded in 1975, USC Davis is not only the nation’s premiere school of gerontology, it is also the first. Named in honor of Leonard Davis, a philanthropist and businessman who pioneered insurance plans for the elderly through his involvement in AARP and his own company Colonial Penn Life Insurance, the school continues to provide ground-breaking solutions to issues facing an aging population.

USC Davis is committed to providing students with a broad theoretical understanding of lifespan development as well as dynamic post-graduate career placement. Students on all levels often enroll in semester-long internship programs. Working with our internship director, students can apply their gerontological knowledge to an array of industries such as health, medicine, business, finance, policy, direct services, program development, counseling and many other fields.

USC Davis School’s Bachelor of Science degrees can be pursued with a health science, a social science or a global emphasis. The school also offers four master’s degrees, nine dual master’s programs, a graduate certificate, and an esteemed Ph.D. program in gerontology.

The school’s research and services arm is the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center. To date the ever-expanding center now houses the USC Biology of Aging Program, the California Center for Long Term Care Integration, the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, the Long Beach Longitudinal Study, the Longitudinal Study of Generations, the Society for the Study of Social Biology, and the USC/UCLA Center on Biodemography and Population Health.

USC Davis School of Gerontology
(213) 740-5156
FAX: (213) 740-0792


Pinchas Cohen, M.D., Dean and Executive Director of the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center

Bob Knight, Ph.D., Associate Dean

Maria Henke, M.A., Assistant Dean


William and Sylvia Kugel Dean’s Chair in Gerontology: Pinchas Cohen, M.D.

AARP University Chair in Gerontology: Eileen Crimmins, 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.

The Golden Age Association/Frances Wu Chair in Chinese Elderly: Iris Chi, Ph.D. (Social Work)

Edna M. Jones Chair in Gerontology: Valter D. Longo, Ph.D.

Rita and Edward Polusky Chair in Education and Aging: Elizabeth M. Zelinski, Ph.D.*

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

Merle H. Bensinger Professor of Gerontology: Bob G. Knight, Ph.D.

Mary Pickford Foundation Professor of Gerontology: Kathleen H. Wilber, Ph.D.*

Albert L. and Madelyne G. Hanson Family Trust Assistant Professor: Susan H. Enguidanos, Ph.D.

Professors: Kathleen Chambers, Ph.D. (Psychology); Margaret Gatz, Ph.D. (Psychology); Martin Levine, Ph.D. (Law, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences); Mara Mather, Ph.D.; John J. McArdle, Ph.D. (Psychology); Michal Mor-Barak, DSW (Social Work); Roseann Mulligan, DDS (Dentistry); Robert C. Myrtle, DPA (Public Policy); Mike Nichol, Ph.D. (Pharmacy and Public Policy); 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); Bradley R. Williams, Pharm.D. (Clinical Pharmacy)

Associate Professors: Maria Aranda, Ph.D. (Social Work); Loren G. Lipson, M.D. (Medicine); Jeffrey McCombs, Ph.D. (Pharmacy); Christian Pike, Ph.D.; John P. Walsh, Ph.D.*

Assistant Professors: Cleopatra Abdou, Ph.D.; Sean Curran, Ph.D.; Susan Enguidanos, Ph.D.; Tara Lynn Gruenewald, Ph.D.; Natalie Leland, Ph.D. (Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy); Ana Marie Yamada, Ph.D. (Social Work)

Research Professors: Todd Morgan, Ph.D.; Albert Rizzo III, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professors: Gennady Ermak, Ph.D.; Roseann Giarrusso, Ph.D.; Jung Ki Kim, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professors: Garnik K. Akopian, M.D., Ph.D.; Donna Benton, Ph.D.; Thomas Parsons, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professors: Neal Cutler, Ph.D.; Fernando Torres-Gil, Ph.D.*

Adjunct Associate Professors: Joanna Davies, Ph.D.; Monika White, Ph.D.

Adjunct Research Professor: Larry Rubenstein, Ph.D.

Adjunct Research Assistant Professor: Tracy Armstrong, Ph.D.

Adjunct Clinical Professor: Robert M. Tager, M.D.

Clinical Professor: Anne Katz, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professors: Raquel D. Arias, M.D.; Michael Gilewski, Ph.D.; Carl Renold, Ph.D.; Debra Sheets, Ph.D.

Clinical Assistant Professors: Aaron Hagedorn, Ph.D.; Freddi Segal-Gidan, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professors: Vern Bengtson, Ph.D.; James E. Birren, Ph.D.; Gerald A. Larue, Ph.D.

Emeritus Associate Professor: Phoebe Liebig, Ph.D.

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.


The Davis School of Gerontology offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging, a Bachelor of Science in Lifespan Health, undergraduate classes through the health and humanity major in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, two minors in aging and a progressive Master of Science in Gerontology open to all undergraduate students.

The School of Gerontology offers several graduate degrees including: a Master of Science in Gerontology; a Master of Aging Services Management; a Master of Arts in Gerontology; a Master of Long Term Care Administration (with the Marshall School of Business and the Price School of Public Policy). All master’s degrees are offered online and onsite. The School of Gerontology offers the premiere Ph.D. in Gerontology program in the nation. The program is not offered online. Non-degree graduate students may complete 16 units of gerontology and be awarded a graduate level certificate in gerontology (also available online).

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 and the Master of Business Administration (M.S./MBA) with the Marshall School of Business; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Doctor of Dental Surgery (M.S./DDS) with the Ostrow School of Dentistry; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Juris Doctor (M.S./J.D.) with the Gould School of Law; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Public Administration (M.S./MPA), the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Health Administration (M.S./MHA), and the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Planning (M.S./MPl) with the Price School of Public Policy; the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Master of Social Work (M.S./MSW) with the School of Social Work; and the Master of Science in Gerontology and the Doctor of Pharmacy (M.S./Pharm.D.) with the School of Pharmacy.

In addition to the degree and minor 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.

Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center

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

The Andrus Center 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.