by TOM PAGONIS and KEVIN KUO
Lost amongst celebrity names and CEOs, the college admissions scandal that sent shockwaves across the United States this week involves a dentist. His name is Homayoun H. Zadeh--an Associate Professor and Director, Advanced Education Program in Periodontology at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of University of Southern California (USC) (1).
Dr. Zadeh received his BS degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from USC. He completed his advanced graduate education in periodontology at the University of Connecticut’s School of Dental Medicine and his Ph.D. degree in immunology also at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Dr. Zadeh also directs the USC International Periodontal and Implant Symposium and the USC Comprehensive Surgical and Restorative Implant Training Program (2).
The illegal college admissions scheme involves 32 parents who conspired with the same key individual to falsify standardized test scores or bribe university coaches to distort unathletic students as recruits to gain preferential athletic admittance. The one key figure that linked all 32 defendants is presumably Rick Singer--who provided the sham foundation for parents to pay him along with his other collaborators (1).
Dr. Zadeh's involvement in the scheme
As noted by FBI special agent Laura Smith’s affidavit against Dr. Zadeh, this is how the USC dental professor conspired with Rick Singer (presumably designated as CW-1 in the affidavit) in an attempt to admit his daughter to the University (1).
With the help of USC employees in the athletic department, Singer and his contacts created a shame lacrosse profile for Dr. Zadeh’s daughter to appear as a significant lacrosse recruit for USC, even though she never played lacrosse. The most striking aspect of the affidavit is how Zadeh apprehensively noted to Singer in a lengthy text message exchange how his daughter managed to sense that she was admitted not according to merit (1).
The rest of the FBI report documented Zadeh’s exchange with Singer about the finances. Singer invoiced Dr. Zadeh for $100,000 payment to his sham foundation with a 6-month deadline. Dr. Zadeh and his wife noted financial concerns to Singer and ultimately, refinanced their home in an attempt to pay him. In the end, the Zadehs paid $55,000 to Singer’s foundation over eight installments and 16 months. Dr. Zadeh inadvertently admitted his conspiracy to the FBI when he spoke with Singer on a staged recorded call (1).
On March 14th, USC Interim President Wanda Austin made an announcement placing Dr. Zadeh on leave, initiating the first steps in a possible termination (3).
More on Dr. Zadeh
In addition to Dr. Zadeh’s responsibilities as the director of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry’s Advanced Graduate Education Program in Periodontology, he directs the Laboratory for Immunoregulation and Tissue Engineering. His research interests include studying the regulation of tissue destruction and repair in an effort to leverage strategies towards advanced clinical translational applications. He is published in microbiology, immunology, bone physiology, tissue engineering, and implant dentistry. Dr. Zadeh’s most recent published work (2019) as the corresponding author is in a prospective clinical study of utilizing stems cells and bovine bone mineral scaffold for possible augmentation of the atrophic mandible (4).
Dr. Zadeh was Principal Investigator in an NIH/NIDCR R01 grant entitled Subversion T Cell Response by A. actinomycetecomitans and in R29 grant entitled Super Antigens in Periodontal Diseases (5). He is listed on USC’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry “Friends of Dentistry Honor Roll,” and according to public records, Dr. Zadeh is President of five companies. These include Brighton Periodontal & Implant Dentistry (2004), Regenimmune, Inc. (2011), The Vista Institute for Therapeutic Innovations, Inc. (2013), Homa H Zadeh, DDS Inc (2015) and Hh Zadeh DDS Ph.d. Inc. (2015) (6-7).
1. Complaint.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/file/1142876/
2. HOMAYOUN ZADEH, DDS, PHD. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.brightonspecialtydental.com/meet-us/homayoun-zadeh-dds-phd-2/
3. Agustin, F., Stephens, M., & Weibezahn, L. (2019, March 13). USC community wonders what’s next following nationwide admissions bribery scheme. Retrieved from http://www.uscannenbergmedia.com/2019/03/13/usc-community-wonders-whats-next-following-nationwide-admissions-bribery-scheme/
4. Homayoun H Zadeh. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Homayoun_Zadeh
5. Homa H Zadeh, BS, DDS, PhD. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/homayoun.zadeh
6. Friends of Dentistry Honor Roll. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://dentistry.usc.edu/friends-of-dentistry-honor-roll/
7. HOMAYOUN ZADEH. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.corporationwiki.com/California/Woodland-Hills/homayoun-zadeh/43990900.aspx
According to the “Daily Trojan”, Professor Zadeh has been placed on leave. According to Interim President Wanda Austin, “this leave is a required procedural step in the process for terminating tenured faculty.”