Dr. Eric Boerwinkle, a world-renowned genetics researcher and educator, has been appointed dean of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health, effective January 1.
[Photo: Dr. Eric Boerwinkle]
“Dr. Boerwinkle is an outstanding scientist, known around the world for his research involving the genetic causes of our most common and debilitating diseases. Working with leaders and faculty members from across the school’s six campuses, Dr. Boerwinkle will leverage our state-wide reach to address critical public health issues, including population health, comparative effectiveness research and precision medicine. He will implement a new strategic direction founded on collaboration and team-building both within the school and with other programs throughout our university. I am confident that under his leadership our School of Public will be recognized as one of the best in the country,” said Dr. Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, UTHealth president and Alkek-Williams Distinguished Chair.
Boerwinkle will succeed Dr. Roberta Ness, who stepped down from the position in September 2014. Dr. Osama Mikhail has served as interim dean while a national search was conducted to select a new dean.
Boerwinkle joined the UTHealth faculty in 1986 and has served as professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Health at the School of Public Health since 2003. He has also directed the Human Genetics Center at the School of Public Health and the Brown Foundation Institute for Molecular Medicine (IMM) for the Prevention of Human Diseases, which are a part of UTHealth.
“There is no better time for public health and the School of Public Health than today. The size and diversity of Texas makes it a living laboratory for disease prevention and health promotion. People are our greatest asset both within the School and at all of our partner institutions and I will work side-by-side with people to build strong partnerships focusing on maintaining good health and improved health care outcomes using the latest technologies and all available evidence. The ever-changing nature of health care creates both challenges and opportunities for public health research and teaching. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Houston and throughout the state to seize those emerging opportunities and redefine public health for the 21st century,” said Boerwinkle, who holds the Kozmetsky Family Chair in Human Genetics at UTHealth.
Boerwinkle has authored more than 800 scientific publications in top tier journals and has led groundbreaking research on the connection between genes and health. He and his colleagues completed the world’s first genome-wide analyses for a variety of cardiovascular disease risk factors, including hypertension and diabetes. These investigations have been a critical step in developing drugs that lower disease risk.
Boerwinkle received his doctorate in human genetics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he also received master’s degrees in human genetics and statistics. In 2003, he was the recipient of the President’s Scholar Award, which recognizes distinguished achievements in research and education at UTHealth.