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New dean charts course to realize vision for School of Medicine

March 2011

Francisco González-Scarano, M.D.
Francisco González-Scarano, M.D.
Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice President for Medical Affairs
  • Birthplace:
    Ponce, Puerto Rico

  • Wife: Married 32 years to Barbara Turner, M.D., M.S.Ed.

  • Children: Genevieve, 29, Stephanie, 26, and Lisa, 22

  • Education: B.A. in Economics (Cum Laude) Yale University, New Haven, Conn., 1971

    M.D., Northwestern University School of Medicine,
    Chicago, Ill., 1975

  • Medical and research specialization: Currently funded by the National Institutes of Health for research on the neurotropism of viruses such as HIV and La Crosse. Author of more than 160 original papers, chapters and reviews in the area of central nervous system inflammation, encephalitis and HIV/AIDS.
When Francisco González-Scarano, M.D., took the helm as dean and vice president for medical affairs of the UT Health Science Center’s School of Medicine July 26, 2010, it seemed as if he had been in the driver’s seat all along, since the transition was nearly seamless. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that health care and education run through Dr. González-Scarano’s veins. His aunt and uncle were pediatricians, his father was a public health administrator and his mother was a dietician. Or maybe it was his ability to bond instantly with his colleagues at the Health Science Center and the people of San Antonio.

Born in the small city of Ponce, on the south central coast of Puerto Rico, Dr. González-Scarano said that upon arriving in San Antonio he found the abundance of Hispanic culture very attractive. "Spanish was my first language. I immediately loved this city, and the chance to be bilingual again is a nice bonus."

When asked about his impression of the School of Medicine, Dr. González-Scarano reveals his admiration for the faculty and excitement for the job ahead. He has big plans fueled by his vision for a school that is pre-eminent among all medical schools in the nation.

"This school is a diamond in the rough. It’s relatively young, sizeable and well endowed, backed by a large and prosperous state. We truly have it all - a great faculty, a strong student body and a growing city in a very pleasant and attractive part of the country."

González-Scarano credits the leadership of his predecessor William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, with the work accomplished in the School of Medicine. Dr. Henrich was dean of the school until his appointment as president of the UT Health Science Center in 2009.

"Dr. Henrich and the faculty have set the stage for activating our potential. With the Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC) and the South Texas Research Facility (STRF), and the vision for a stand-alone children’s hospital in San Antonio, the stage is set. We have the potential to be the premier medical institution in the region. We already have the biggest reach."

The new dean said he looks forward to advances that will be achieved throughout South Texas.

"I am truly excited about the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in Harlingen and our mission of community service," he said. "Because the RAHC is located in the most medically underserved region of the country, it serves as a vehicle to maximize our community and education missions."

He notes that his job is not without challenges.

"When people think of UT Medicine San Antonio, we want them to think of the best doctors in the best facility, where the patient experience is the most outstanding. We have to reorganize some things, hone our focus and work to discover how we can get there from here."

Dr. González-Scarano knows his responsibilities as dean will permeate his schedule, but is determined to continue practicing medicine. In his previous role as chairof the Department of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, he treated patients in the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic.

"The most difficult part of my departure from Philadelphia was leaving my patients," he said. He’d followed some patients for 20 years or more. "It’s hard not to consider them family. Leaving them was difficult."

But, together with his new family of patients, students, faculty and colleagues at the UT Health Science Center, Dr. González-Scarano said he looks forward to new and greater achievements in San Antonio and South Texas. "The future is practically unlimited."

Article adapted by Natalie Gutierrez for Mission magazine. Original article by Ray Hoese for FUTURE magazine.

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Updated 7/30/14