The Claremont Colleges announced it would open a medical school in East Los Angeles County aimed at relieving a dearth of primary care physicians.

The Keck Graduate Institute on July 30 announced plans for a new school in Claremont, with a founding dean hired as early as next summer. The school could open within three or four years after that.

“We will work with the founding dean to develop a next-generation medical school that serves as a national model in preparing physicians to practice at the intersection of evolving scientific research and population health management,” said Sheldon Schuster, president of the institute, in a statement.

The Keck Graduate Institute, the latest in a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate schools in the Claremont Colleges, includes a school of applied life sciences and a school of pharmacy.

If approved by the U.S. Department of Education, its new medical school would focus on primary care and treating a growing Latino population in California.

An undisclosed donor contributed funds to hire a new dean and staff, according to the institute. The future school could open within a leased space nearby for an undetermined number of students. The cost of the new school will be determined.

A Keck Graduate Institute School of Medicine could be the fifth medical school in Los Angeles County. Current schools include the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles. A Kaiser School of Medicine is now being built in Pasadena.

There is a projected shortfall within the decade of 9,000 primary care physicians who practice in low-income communities in California.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.