Announcing the inaugural dean for The University of Texas School of Public Health San Antonio

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Vasan S. Ramachandran, MD, as the founding Dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health San Antonio, a strategic collaboration between UT Health San Antonio and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Dr. Ramachandran serves currently as the Jay and Louise Coffman Professor of Vascular Biology; Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology for the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health; and Chief, Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine.

Since 2014, Dr. Ramachandran has served as Principal Investigator and Director of the Framingham Heart Study. He is also the Principal Investigator of the RURAL (Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal) Cohort Study that aims to address critical gaps in our knowledge of heart and lung disorders in rural counties in the southeastern U.S. An internationally known and highly respected physician-scientist and clinical epidemiologist, Dr. Ramachandran’s research has focused on heart failure, blood pressure and cardiac remodeling. He will begin his position as Dean of the new School of Public Health in September.

This is an exciting day for San Antonio and our region as it represents a defining moment and the fulfillment of a dream to establish a joint School of Public Health in San Antonio. This new school, envisioned by leaders of UT Health San Antonio and UTSA and endorsed by The Board of Regents of The University of Texas System, is being created to develop the next generation of public health professionals to improve the lives of residents in our large 38-county South Texas service area.

The establishment of the school introduces a new era for UT Health San Antonio’s and UTSA’s shared mission to serve the public good in close partnership with the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, our R&D partners and the health care community. This allows us to meet critical public health work force needs. The school will further strengthen and expand our national reputation and impact as a leader in education and in cancer, aging, infectious disease and behavioral health research, and in related community health policy development. The new school will provide a major boost to both institutions’ positive momentum and commitment to being a center of excellence in education, service and research to improve the public health of South Texans and the nation. 

Dr. Vasan Ramachandran is eminently qualified to serve as the school’s inaugural dean. He has gained our deep enthusiasm for the position as well as the enthusiasm and endorsement of all with whom he has met during the national search process. Included below are a few of the many highlights of Dr. Ramachandran’s extensive experience and successes to date:

  • Since 2014, Dr. Ramachandran has served as the Principal Investigator of the internationally known and highly regarded Framingham Heart Study. The Framingham Study is a population-based, observational cohort study initiated by the United States Public Health Service in 1948 and subsequently funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to prospectively investigate the epidemiology and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It has grown into an ongoing, longitudinal study gathering prospective data on a wide variety of biological and lifestyle risk factors and on cardiovascular, neurological and other types of disease outcomes across three generations of participants and its accompanying Omni cohorts of non-white individuals. Today, the Framingham Heart Study is engaged in 85 distinct ancillary studies across 47 institutions.
  • Dr. Ramachandran also has served since 2019 as one of the Principal Investigators for the Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal Study (RURAL) aimed at addressing critical gaps in the knowledge of heart and lung disorders in rural counties in the southeastern U.S. This study is of 4,600 individuals ages 25-64 from 10 rural counties in Southern Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Ramachandran (along with his team members) was able to formulate and implement robust responses to COVID, which allowed both the Framingham Heart and RURAL studies to continue to enroll and examine participants.
  • With a current active annual research grant portfolio of nearly $20 million and as a recipient of over $100 million from the National Institutes of Health over the last 20 years, Dr. Ramachandran is a prolific and collaborative investigator with a primary focus of leading and evaluating studies related to the epidemiology and genetic architecture of blood pressure, cardiac and vascular remodeling, and he contributed to the description of the entity of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
  • He has earned an h-index of 188 in Google Scholar discovery with over 1,060 publications to his name including many in prominent journals such as NEJM, JACC, JAMA and Circulation.
  • He led and directed the first School of Public Health in India, the Achutha Menon Center for Health Science Studies in Kerala, where he enrolled and coordinated the first two cohorts of Master of Public Health students, a two-year residential, 60-credit program targeting mid-career physician leaders in the country. He oversaw the recruitment of the core faculty and staff, supervised curriculum development and arranged for collaborations with prominent U.S. universities such as Johns Hopkins, Harvard, UC Berkeley and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • As director of two NIH training grants (T32 and R38), Dr. Ramachandran has built mentoring support groups for non-white scholars within the Department of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. His experience as an immigrant and foreign-medical graduate from a developing country has given him a heightened awareness of the challenges encountered by individuals from non-majority groups and he has thus focused his attention on addressing health disparities and working toward health equity.

Dr. Ramachandran received his primary and high school education in India after which he completed a year of premedical training and then entered the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the top-ranked medical institution in India and South Asia with an attached 2,000-bed multispecialty teaching hospital. He spent the next 15 years in India training to be a physician as an internist, a senior resident and a cardiologist before moving to the United States, where he sought additional subspecialty training in imaging and cardiovascular epidemiology at the Framingham Heart Study.

We are grateful for the leadership of Dr. Jennifer Potter, Vice President for Research, UT Health San Antonio, and Dr. Heather Shipley, Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and Dean, University College, UTSA, for co-chairing the Search Advisory Committee along with 17 colleagues from UT Health San Antonio, UTSA and the San Antonio community. The Search Advisory Committee interviewed 10 candidates and narrowed the field to four semi-finalists who visited both campuses for extensive discussions.

Dr. Ramachandran is married to Dr. Sudha Seshadri, Director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio. Vasan and Sudha have one daughter who is a pediatrician. In addition to Dr. Ramachandran’s extensive and relevant experience, he is a thoughtful, collaborative and authentic leader who has the heart of a public servant. We hope you will join us in welcoming Dr. Ramachandran to our community.

William L. Henrich, MD, MACP             
UT Health San Antonio 

Taylor Eighmy, PhD, MS
The University of Texas at San Antonio


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