Dr. Vasan Ramachandran, a distinguished public health researcher at Boston University and principal investigator of the Framingham Heart Study, has been named founding dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health San Antonio.

According to a July 22 news release, Dr. William Henrich, president of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and Taylor Eighmy, University of Texas at San Antonio president, said Ramachandran’s appointment will be effective Sept. 1.

University of Texas officials said the new public health school is a collaboration of UT Health San Antonio and UTSA, and it is one of three schools of public health in The University of Texas System.

The release described Ramachandran as an internationally known physician-scientist and clinical epidemiologist whose research has focused on heart failure, blood pressure and cardiac remodeling. Henrich said Ramachandran is the ideal person to lead and build San Antonio’s new school of public health.

“His leadership of multiple studies gathering data on biological and lifestyle risk factors, his impressive track record of National Institutes of Health funding, his mentorship of diverse students, and his experience directing the first public health school in India all attest to this,” Henrich said.

Eighmy said in the release the new school of public health will partner with the city of San Antonio, Bexar County, UTSA’s research and development partners, and the health care community.

“This new school allows us to meet critical public health workforce needs and is a major boost to both institutions’ positive momentum and commitment to being a center of excellence in public health education, service and research,” he said.

According to the release, Ramachandran has served on the faculty of the Boston University School of Medicine and School of Public Health for more than 25 years and as principal investigator of the Framingham Heart Study since 2014.

The latter study is a population-based, observational cohort study initiated by the U.S. Public Health Service in 1948 and later funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to investigate the epidemiology and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the release said.

Ramachandran said starting a public health school comes in a critical time in the history of the nation, the state and the San Antonio region.

“We are still in the throes of a pandemic, two and a half years plus, and this crisis has exposed how challenging it is to deal with major public health challenges on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ramachandran said.

Ramachandran said the public health school and its programs will help faculty and the organization’s partners to delve deeper not only into the pandemic and the existing public health problems that the outbreak exposed, but also the long-established chronic diseases that have hit South Texans hard, including diabetes and kidney diseases.

The new public school will also help to explore the status of front-line workers around the region and the lack of access to affordable health care for people of color and the underinsured, mothers of young children and other vulnerable populations, the release said.

Additionally, UT Health San Antonio and UTSA each offer complementary programs and synergy to the new public health school, said Dr. Jennifer Potter, vice president for research at UT Health San Antonio. For example, infectious diseases, cancer, epidemiology and many other areas of study are strengths of UT Health, the release said.

UTSA contributes data sciences, kinesiology, demography and other areas, the release added.

According to the release, the UT School of Public Health San Antonio is expected to have a student enrollment of nearly 400 during the first five years of operations with a master’s degree in public health offered starting in 2024 and a doctorate of public health degree program to be developed.