Dr. Robert Sackstein has been appointed dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) and senior vice president for health affairs.
Sackstein comes to FIU from Harvard Medical School (HMS), where he has served as professor in two departments, dermatology and medicine, and co-director of the Glycoscience Center at HMS.
At Harvard, Sackstein has been an accomplished clinician, researcher, and educator. As both a basic and clinical scientist, he has focused on developing glycoscience, a branch of science concerned with the role of sugars in biological systems, and his work has yielded strategies to optimize cell-based therapeutics to regenerate damaged tissue and combat cancer. His work at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, a Harvard teaching hospital, garnered funding for the creation of the largest research infrastructure of any department of dermatology in the world. He also was an active educator, teaching medical and graduate students, interns/residents, and post-doctoral fellows, as well as running a Harvard undergraduate course on the scientific method
“Dr. Sackstein brings invaluable experience to FIU and a deep understanding of Miami and the unique needs and challenges facing our communities,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “This is certainly another milestone moment for our College of Medicine – Dr. Wertheim brought our dream to life, founding dean Dr. John Rock redefined what a medical education could be and now Dr. Sackstein is going to build on the strong foundation put in place by Dr. Rock.”
Sackstein was born in Havana, Cuba, and came to Miami at the age of 4. After graduating from Southwest High School he attended Harvard University, where he majored in biology and graduated summa cum laude. He received both an M.D. and a Ph.D. (in immunology) from Harvard Medical School, then returned to Miami for his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami. After completing two additional fellowships, in immunology and hematology, Sackstein stayed on at UM as faculty. In 1993, he accepted a position at the University of South Florida and was then recruited back to Harvard in 1997.
“I feel tremendous pride that Dr. Sackstein, a noted Harvard professor, researcher and clinician has been chosen to lead the College of Medicine’s future healthcare for our community,” said Dr. Herbert Wertheim, founding chairman of the College of Medicine and the scientist, clinician, entrepreneur, philanthropist and community leader for whom the college is named. “His unique experience and past community involvement and outstanding skills and international stature will take the medical school to the next level. I wish him much success in the years ahead and he can count on my future support and involvement with the college.”
“We look forward to Dr. Sackstein expanding the clinical and research enterprise of the HWCOM and the entire Academic Health Center through strategic alliances and interdisciplinary collaborations,” said Kenneth G. Furton, Provost and Executive Vice President.
Sackstein’s work has been recognized internationally. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Board of Trustees of the Jose Carreras Leukemia Research Institute in Barcelona, he is the Chairperson of the International Advisory Committee to the Spanish National Cell Therapy Network, and is also on the International Advisory Board to the Swedish Government at the Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine Initiative in Stem Cell Therapeutics at Lund University in Sweden.
“I feel truly honored and privileged to be given the opportunity to return to my hometown along with my wife Beth (a native Miamian) to serve the community we both love, and to guide the HWCOM to the forefront of clinical training and innovation,” Sackstein said. “Dean Rock and the entire FIU leadership have done a remarkable job in establishing a nationally-recognized medical school providing exceptional clinical education grounded in social consciousness. We will safeguard this legacy and will also develop world-leading integrated medical research initiatives across FIU and our hospital affiliates to both prevent and eliminate human suffering.”
HWCOM Founding Dean Dr. John A. Rock is taking a leave of absence to serve as founding dean of the college of medicine at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. When he returns to FIU, he will serve as the first John and Mary Lou Dasburg Chair in Medicine.
Under Rock’s leadership, the College of Medicine received the largest cash donation in university history, a $20 million gift from the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation; was granted full accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education; and garnered national and international recognition for its innovative curriculum and social mission embodied in its signature Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP program.