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New Leader at Health Sciences Center

Mar 15, 2021 | Campus Connections, Spring 2021

The UNM Health Sciences Center has a new leader — Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, a psychiatrist who most recently served as associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences at the University of California, San Diego.

The UNM Health Sciences Center’s mission encompasses education, research and clinical care. It includes the School of Medicine and Colleges of Pharmacy, Nursing and Population Health, UNM Hospital, the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, community-based clinics and a robust research arm. It employs some 10,000 people and has a budget of $2.2 billion.

Ziedonis joined UNM in December 2020 with two titles — executive vice president for UNM Health Sciences and chief executive officer of the UNM Health System — following the retirement of Paul B. Roth, MD, MS, who served in executive positions at the Health Sciences Center for 40 years.

UNM President Garnett S. Stokes, who made the appointment following a 10-month search, said Ziedonis is ready to lead a large and complicated academic, research and clinical system.

“He comes to UNM with a keen appreciation for the complexities of running the state’s only academic medical center, including the current stressors derived from the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic,” Stokes said. “Additionally, his own medical and public health background and accomplishments have targeted addressing health disparities – including issues such as homelessness, mental illness, and addiction — and being a champion for diversity.”

UNM Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway, who led the search committee, said he was impressed especially by how Ziedonis listened to multiple voices and perspectives.

Prior to joining UC San Diego, Ziedonis held leadership roles at the University of Massachusetts, UCLA, Yale University and Rutgers. The second-generation son of Latvian immigrants, Ziedonis received his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University Medical School and his master of public health degree from Yale. He is internationally recognized for his research in mental illness and addiction, especially tobacco addiction.

“President Stokes has created a really strong transformative leadership team with great cohesion, and I welcome the opportunity to be a part of her leadership team and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and balance across all the missions,” Ziedonis said. “As a Research 1 University, we will need to have more inter-disciplinary partnerships and innovation hubs to be successful in receiving federal and other resources, including collaborations with other universities in the state, the community and local businesses. I know that Health Sciences schools and colleges serve an important role in the future growth of the University.”

Ziedonis will be joined in New Mexico by his wife of 30 years, Patrice.

Photo of Douglas Ziedonis, MD

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