Dr. Robert C. Robbins assumed his position as the 22nd president of the University of Arizona on June 1, 2017. Previously, he served as president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center (TMC) in Houston from 2012 to 2017. In this role, he significantly enhanced TMC's commitment to collaboration, introducing five cross-institutional research initiatives centered on innovation, genomics, regenerative medicine, health policy and clinical research.
Prior to his time in Houston, Dr. Robbins served as professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, founding director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, president of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, president of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, president of the American Heart Association Western States Affiliate, president of the Bay Area Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and chair of the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia Council, among other roles.
An internationally recognized cardiac surgeon, Robbins has focused his clinical efforts on acquired cardiac diseases with a special expertise in the surgical treatment of congestive heart failure and cardiothoracic transplantation. His research work includes the investigation of stem cells for cardiac regeneration, cardiac transplant allograft vasculopathy, bioengineered blood vessels, and automated vascular anastomotic devices. Robbins is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and a former guest editor of the Circulation Surgical Supplement.
While at the University of Arizona, Dr. Robbins has led the creation and implementation of a strategic plan focused on the opportunities and challenges presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the convergence of biological, digital and physical technologies and sectors. Designed to amplify Arizona’s competitiveness on the world stage, the plan emphasizes the university’s strengths as a public, land-grant research university with global reach and a rich history of international collaboration.
In addition to leading the University of Arizona, Dr. Robbins serves on the boards of the Arizona Commerce Authority, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is also a member of the Chairman’s Circle of Sun Corridor, Inc., and a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership. While at TMC, Robbins served on the Houston branch of the Dallas Federal Reserve board and the board of directors of the Welch Foundation. In 2016 he was president of the American Heart Association Southwest Affiliate. He served on an independent blue ribbon committee to evaluate the Veterans Affairs health system, and the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston honored him as the 2016 International Citizen of the Year.
His educational background includes a B.S. in chemistry from Millsaps College, a medical degree from the University of Mississippi, general surgical training at the University of Mississippi, cardiothoracic training at Stanford University, postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the National Institutes of Health, and congenital heart surgical fellowships at Emory University and Royal Children’s Hospital.