Dr. Giuseppe Colasurdo

Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D., a pediatrician, researcher and leader who has served at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) for 17 years, was officially appointed president of UTHealth on Monday by The University of Texas System Board of Regents.

Colasurdo, the Alkek-Williams Distinguished Chair at UTHealth, has served as interim president since April 1, 2011, and becomes the sixth president since the university was founded in 1972. He succeeds Larry R. Kaiser, M.D., who stepped down to lead the Temple University Health System.

“It is critically important to have extraordinary leadership at our health institutions as the landscape of healthcare in our country undergoes transformational change,” said Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa. “Dr. Colasurdo is an exemplary educator, administrator and clinician, and I have no doubt he is the right leader at the right time.”

Dr. Colasurdo is an exemplary educator, administrator and clinician, and I have no doubt he is the right leader at the right time.

Now celebrating its 40th anniversary as Houston’s health university, UTHealth educates more health care professionals than any other health-related institution in Texas.  There are more than 5,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staff members studying and working within UTHealth’s schools of biomedical informatics, biomedical sciences, dentistry, medicine, nursing and public health, its psychiatric hospital and its central administration.

“It is a great honor to serve this university and community as president,” Colasurdo said. “I look forward to working with the exceptional students, faculty and staff members in all of our six schools, and with our many partners across the State of Texas and beyond, in the coming years.”

He likens UTHealth to Memorial Hermann’s Life Flight program, which, under the direction of UTHealth’s James H. “Red” Duke, started in 1976 with one helicopter and rapidly grew to serve what is now not only the busiest, but also one of the best, trauma centers in the country.

“Like Life Flight, UTHealth has experienced tremendous growth,” Colasurdo said. “Today, we have amazing talent, depth in expertise and remarkable momentum. Our programs are truly flying high.”

“As our university continues to grow, the UTHealth brand will be synonymous with excellence and innovation across the spectrum of health care,” Colasurdo added.

Julius Glickman, chair of the Development Board at UTHealth, said the strength of Colasurdo’s leadership has been proven time and again – from his ability to recruit and retain the best faculty members, to his efforts to strengthen hospital partnerships and expand quality clinical care services, to his commitment to excellence in education.

“We are fortunate to have him at the helm. This is a gifted man, and with Giuseppe Colasurdo, UTHealth is positioned to have an even greater impact on this community and the larger health care field,” Glickman said.

Colasurdo became dean and H. Wayne Hightower Distinguished Professor in the Medical Sciences of The University of Texas Medical School, part of UTHealth, Sept. 1, 2007.

Born in Morrone Del Sannio, Italy, Colasurdo completed his undergraduate education at The Liceo Scientifico “Galileo Galilei” in Pescara, Italy. He earned his medical degree summa cum laude from G. D’Annunzio School of Medicine in Chieti, Italy. In 1988, determined to achieve the best medical training in the world, Colasurdo came to the United States.

He completed his residency at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and his fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Science Center and the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. In Colorado, he worked in the laboratory of Gary L. Larsen, M.D., and initiated his studies on the autonomic regulation of the airway smooth muscle, the biology of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, and ontogeny of airway dysfunction and inflammation in childhood asthma.

Colasurdo joined McGovern Medical School’s faculty in 1995 as an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pulmonary Medicine. He became the division head in 1997 and began directing the fellowship training program in pediatric pulmonary medicine in 2001. He was named chair of the Department of Pediatrics in 2005.

The physician-in-chief at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and the David R. Park Professor in Pediatric Medicine, Colasurdo specializes in RSV, pediatric asthma, and other lung disorders in infants and children. As president, he will continue to treat patients.

His numerous awards include the Dean’s Excellence Awards, the David W. Smith Trainee Award from the Western Society for Pediatric Research, and the Basic Scientist Development Award from the National Institutes of Health. In 2008, he received Houston’s Executive Communicator of the Year Award from the International Association of Business Communicators; the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Pediatrics at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; was elected to faculty membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society-Houston Delta Chapter; received the Facolta di Medicina e Chirurgia Award from the G. D’Annunzio School of Medicine in Chieti, Italy; and received the Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, presented by the Consul General of Italy.

A strong proponent of preserving and promoting the best in medical education, Colasurdo brought to McGovern Medical School two fellowship training programs recognized by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education: pediatric pulmonology and pediatric critical care. He also created a Division of Medical Education in the Department of Pediatrics dedicated to focusing on new strategies and technologies for resident learning.

As dean, Colasurdo developed a structure to promote health care quality and safety throughout the clinical, research, and educational missions of the Medical School. He also promulgated a Scholarly Concentrations Program aimed at helping medical students enrich their academic pathways into medical specialties. Under his leadership, the UT Physicians clinical practice of the Medical School has expanded beyond the confines of the Texas Medical Center and into the neighborhoods of Houston and surrounding areas.

Board certified in Pediatric Pulmonology and licensed to practice medicine in Italy, Texas and Colorado, Colasurdo has hospital privileges at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, and MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is the CEO and president of UT Physicians, the medical practice of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, one of the fastest growing academic medical practices in the country.

— Meredith Raine, Office of Advancement