Dr. Michael M.I. Abecassis Appointed Dean of UA College of Medicine – Tucson

Monday, July 15, 2019

Following an extensive national search, Michael M.I. Abecassis, MD, MBA, has been appointed dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. His appointment begins early November 2019, as he becomes the ninth dean of the college since its founding in 1967.

Dr. Abecassis is the J. Roscoe Miller Distinguished Professor of Surgery and Microbiology-Immunology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. He also is chief of the Division of Organ Transplantation and founding director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center.

“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 addition to pioneering several innovative surgical procedures and approaches to the care of transplant patients, Dr. Abecassis has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health for the past 23 years, serving as principal investigator of research grants that span from studies of the molecular mechanisms of cytomegalovirus latency and reactivation, to translational and clinical studies in pursuit of a molecular biomarker strategy for both kidney and liver transplant recipients.

 “The many facets of Dr. Abecassis’ leadership and achievement, as well as his commitment to advancing education, research, clinical care and community engagement, will help elevate our academic efforts and the reputation of the College of Medicine – Tucson for many years to come,” said Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president for UA Health Sciences. “I look forward to Dr. Abecassis guiding the college into a new era of medical training, scientific discovery and care delivery, as UAHS begins to shape the future of health care in Arizona, the nation and throughout the world.”

Dr. Abecassis is a member of many national and international professional societies, including the Society of University Surgeons and the American Surgical Association.

He has served and continues to serve on the editorial boards of several major journals, and has been a member of several NIH study sections and special emphasis panels relating to both transplantation and virology.

“I am humbled, honored and privileged to join President Robbins’ and Senior Vice President Dake’s team, and the wonderful and talented academic leaders, faculty and staff of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, as its new dean,” Dr. Abecassis said. “Together with our many partners, we will align and galvanize the tripartite mission of the COM-T, as we 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. 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 was recruited to Northwestern University 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.

About the UA College of Medicine – Tucson

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is shaping the future of medicine through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and beyond. Founded in 1967, the college boasts more than 50 years of innovation, ranking among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care. Through the university's partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health-care systems in the country, the college is leading the way in academic medicine. For more information, please visit

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