Clinical Professor of Medicine, USC Keck School of Medicine
Paul Toffel M.D. is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He has had 40 years of experience in military medicine, aerospace medical engineering, academic research and private practice, and has seen and experienced the medical system from every conceivable direction. He also has the compelling personal history to go with his credentials. He grew up in South Central Los Angeles at a time of racially changing neighborhoods. He played high school football with a rainbow coalition of teammates, learning early the importance of teamwork and mutual respect as a core value.
Although his family was poor (his father ran a small family shoe business in Watts), he was able to earn a California State Academic Scholarship out of George Washington High School in South Central and went to Stanford University and USC for undergraduate studies and USC Medical School on additional scholarships. As fate would have it, in 1965, his father was shot and killed in a hold-up of his shoe store on the day the curfew ended for the Watts Riots. Dr. Toffel dedicated his medical school education and career to his Father’s memory.
After nine years of medical school and residency, Dr. Toffel served as an Otolaryngologist in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps during the Vietnam War, similar to his older brothers who served in the Army during the Korean War, and the Air Force during the Cold War. After his military service, he returned to the Los Angeles area and affiliated with the USC Medical School, Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, as a junior professor and went into private practice in the urban Los Angeles setting. He set up shop near South Central at the then Catholic and excellently-run Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital.
Twenty-seven years after the 1965 Watts Riots, fate allowed him to care for some of the worst victims of the 1992 L.A. Riots, including the truck driver injured just a few blocks away from his father's old store. Dr. Toffel has continued to work with USC School of Medicine (now renamed the Keck School of Medicine of USC) and in private practice in the Los Angeles area, caring for 1000's of patients. He has written 40 scientific journal articles in his specialty and rose to President of his national specialty society.