A renowned surgeon who performed the first successful liver transplant at Northwestern University was named the new dean of the UA College of Medicine in Tucson.
The university announced this week that Dr. Michael M.I. Abecassis, who is at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, will begin his new duties in early November at the college. He becomes the ninth dean of the college since its founding in 1967.
Abecassis was appointed after a national search, the university said. He is the James Roscoe Miller Distinguished professor of surgery and microbiology-immunology at Northwestern’s medical school. He also is chief of the division of organ transplantation and founding director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Northwestern.
In addition to pioneering innovative surgical procedures and approaches to the care of transplant patients, Dr. Abecassis received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health for the past 23 years, serving as principal investigator of research grants focusing on studies of kidney and liver transplant recipients.
Abecassis began his clinical career in 1991 as assistant professor of surgery and director of liver transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery at the University of Iowa. He has his medical degree from the University of Toronto and his MBA from Northwestern.
He was recruited to Northwestern in 1993 as director of a new liver transplant program and performed the first successful liver transplant there that same year. In 2004, he was named chief of the division of transplantation.
He was appointed dean for clinical affairs at Feinberg in 2008, serving until 2011. He was named founding director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center in 2009.
In 2018, Northwestern Medicine celebrated 5,000 kidney, 2,000 liver and 750 pancreas transplants performed under Abecassis’ leadership, as well as 3,000 live donor procedures for both kidney and liver transplants, according to a Northwestern news release.
“The appointment of Dr. Abecassis, a nationally recognized leader in medicine, speaks volumes about the incredible impact that the UA College of Medicine-Tucson is making in education, biomedical research and patient care, as well as the many exciting opportunities ahead for the college to address the global health care challenges of the 21st century,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins in a news release.
Abecassis is a member of many national and international professional societies, including the Society of University Surgeons and the American Surgical Association. He serves on the editorial boards of several major journals, and has been a member of several NIH study sections and special emphasis panels relating to transplantation and virology.
Abecassis said in a news release he was “humbled, honored and privileged” to join the UA College of Medicine-Tucson as its new dean. He said he plans to work to align and galvanize the College of Medicine to “continue striving toward creating an environment of collaborative innovation that serves and benefits our patients, our community and the residents of our state, while training the next generation of physicians and scientists.”
Dr. Michael D. Dake, senior vice president for UA Health Sciences, said Abecassis’ leadership will “help elevate our academic efforts and the reputation of the College of Medicine-Tucson for many years to come.”
As dean, Abecassis will be paid $793,000 a year, which includes a base salary of $483,000 and an administrative stipend of $310,000, according to a UA spokesman.
He succeeds Dr. Irving Kron, who has served as interim college dean for about a year.