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Announcement: A new era for MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School

April 20, 2022
A Message from MD Anderson President Pisters & UTHealth Houston President Colasurdo

Photo of GSBS Dean Michael R. Blackburn, PhD

After a decade of exceptional leadership at MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Michael R. Blackburn, PhD, has announced his plan to step down as dean later this year.

True to his nature as an executive, renowned researcher, and collaborator in the advancement of science and education, Dean Blackburn gave ample notice of his retirement plans. In the coming months, Dean Blackburn will work closely with Sharon Y.R. Dent, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis at MD Anderson, who will serve as dean ad interim, and other members of the Graduate School leadership team to ensure a smooth transition. Efforts are underway to select a permanent dean who will usher our school into a new era of education and discovery in the biomedical sciences. We have secured Spencer Stuart, an executive search and leadership consulting firm, to conduct the national search. The search committee, led by Guillermina Lozano, PhD, and Kevin A. Morano, PhD, will work with the firm to identify highly qualified candidates.

Now, more than ever, the world needs dedicated scientists to tackle the greatest health care challenges of our time. Leveraging the strong partnership between MD Anderson Cancer Center and UTHealth Houston, we are committed to training the next generation of scientists who will turn discovery into lifesaving solutions. We are equally committed to hiring a visionary leader who will support our outstanding faculty in creating a premier graduate school of biomedical education.

Please join us in thanking Dean Blackburn for his extraordinary leadership and enduring dedication to the success of our school. In 2012, he joined Michelle C. Barton, PhD, as part of a two-dean leadership team. Upon Barton’s departure in 2020, Dean Blackburn remained at the helm, advocating for our students and working tirelessly to implement programs that put them on a path to achievement, all while continuing his renowned research into therapies for chronic lung diseases. Dean Blackburn, the John P. McGovern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Endowed Distinguished Professor, will continue in his role through the end of June 2022. In this video message, Dean Blackburn shares more about his decision to retire, the accomplishments of the Graduate School, and his confidence in the school’s bright future.

As we celebrate ongoing progress at our school, we, like Dean Blackburn, are excited about its future. We are steadfast in our pledge to create the best training environment for our graduate students, and will keep you apprised on the search for a new dean. Should you have any questions, please reach out to our search committee chairs at [email protected] and [email protected].

Peter WT Pisters, MD                      Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD
President                                          President
MD Anderson Cancer Center           UTHealth Houston

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