November 6, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 37


HSC Profile


"Together, we’ll be able to make a positive, lasting difference."

—Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa,
Health Science Center president

Yale. Harvard. Johns Hopkins. Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, the president of the Health Science Center, prepared for his life’s work in these famed institutions.

He is a renowned pediatric and transplant surgeon, so skilled that at Harvard’s competitive teaching hospital, Massachusetts General, he was selected to be chief surgical resident. He is remembered as one of the most brilliant students ever to graduate from medical school at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He completed 12 years of postgraduate training, including internships and residencies at Massachusetts General and fellowships and faculty positions at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

A researcher as well, he has pioneered surgical innovations since his recruitment to this region. In 1997, he was part of a surgical team that split a donor liver for transplant into two recipients, an adult woman and a 5-month-old boy. It was the first operation of its type to be performed in Texas. Earlier this year, he led the surgical team that performed the region’s first successful small bowel transplant in a child.

Dr. Cigarroa is the product of the very best in medical education and has brought that stamp of excellence to the presidency. A nationally prominent surgeon, he is the first Hispanic leader to be named the chief executive of a major U.S. health science university.

President Cigarroa is hard at work preparing for the January start of the 77th Legislature’s regular session. His goal is to build upon the fine work done by his predecessor, Dr. John P. Howe, III, and to lead the Health Science Center into the top national rankings. "I want to increase funds for research and clinical care for our region, and also for scholarships for our students," he said.

"Our outstanding researchers and clinicians deserve the maximum support we can bring to them," Dr. Cigarroa said. "I am concentrating my efforts on securing increased funding from the Legislature and all external sources, to provide the infrastructure that can bring this prominent Health Science Center into a new level of excellence."

Tom Loeffler, vice chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, said the new president is a dynamic leader for the Health Science Center. "Dr. Cigarroa has a wealth of experience in medical education, and he brings to the presidency of the Health Science Center a distinguished record of achievement as a clinician, a researcher and an educator."

Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Health Science Center president, talks with Alejandra Garza, KVDA-TV, Channel 60, during one of his first interviews as president.

A native of Laredo, Dr. Cigarroa understands the unique needs of the South Texas/Border Region. "I am well aware that we were chartered as the health science university for South Texas," he said. "Our unique geographic position provides us many opportunities to serve the people of our region through our missions of teaching, research, patient care and service."

Dr. Cigarroa received his baccalaureate degree from Yale in 1979 and his medical degree from U. T. Southwestern in 1983. At Southwestern, he established a legacy of excellence both in the classroom and on rotations. "He was one of the greatest students I have had in 30 years of teaching," said Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Brown, one of his faculty mentors.

Dr. Cigarroa is a Fellow of the American College of Surgery and a Diplomate of the American College of Pediatric Surgery and the American College of General Surgery. Before his new appointment, he was director of general pediatric surgery and pediatric abdominal organ transplants at the Health Science Center. Regent A.R. (Tony) Sanchez, Jr., said Dr. Cigarroa provides "this institution with a vision-driven decision-maker while personalizing educational medical achievement to a generation struggling to find successful role models."

U. T. System Chancellor R.D. Burck commented: "The Health Science Center is indeed fortunate to be able to call on someone of Dr. Cigarroa’s stature for leadership in this era of rapid change in health care and education. Under his leadership, the Health Science Center will continue to enhance its ability to provide the highest quality of service to the people of Texas and the nation."