Nationally Recognized Researcher, Administrator to Help Develop School of Medicine

Jan. 22, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — Dr. Robert O. Messing, a nationally recognized addiction science researcher, will join The University of Texas at Austin as vice provost for biomedical sciences to help develop the new medical school. His appointment is effective Jan. 16.

Messing comes to the university from the University of California, San Francisco, where he was on the faculty for 26 years, having spent the past 15 years as an administrator helping to build a highly successful research institute, the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center. During that time he maintained an active research laboratory at the Gallo Center focused on the neurobiology of addiction, and he contributed to patient care and medical education through the Neurology Service at the San Francisco General Hospital.

He has also previously served on the UCSF Committee on Curriculum and Educational Policy and on the Clinical Courses Operating Committee, helping to revamp the third-year medical student core clerkships, while directing the Neurology Core Clerkship at UCSF.

“Dr. Messing brings expertise from one of the nation’s premier medical schools as a researcher and an administrator, and he brings considerable expertise in building consensus across scientific disciplines,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Steven Leslie, who is overseeing the establishment of a medical school at UT Austin. “These are strengths we will need as we build synergies across our existing schools and colleges to create a medical school of the first class that addresses the health care needs of the 21st century.”

Messing will serve as one of two co-chairs for the steering committee charged with overseeing the development of the budget, curriculum, research program, clinical training program, community engagement and other aspects of the new medical school. The other co-chair will be Dr. Susan Cox, Austin’s regional dean for UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The first class of about 50 students is expected to enter the medical school in 2015 or 2016. The medical school will operate in partnership with Travis County Central Health and Seton Healthcare Family, with medical residents receiving instruction at a new teaching hospital. The program will be the first doctoral program in medicine to be initiated at a major, established research university in the United States for several decades.

“My role as vice provost for biomedical sciences will be to bring campus expertise in basic sciences and engineering into the research and educational programs of the new medical school, to provide preclinical education to the students and opportunities for pursuit of joint degrees in engineering or the basic sciences,” said Messing. “I view this as a unique and privileged opportunity to play a key role in building an academically oriented medical school at one of the nation's top universities.”

Messing will also have a tenured appointment on the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy and will join the college’s Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology as the Henry M. Burlage Centennial Endowed Professor in Pharmacy. In addition, he will serve as associate director of the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.

Messing earned a bachelor’s degree in history and his M.D. from Stanford University. He completed two years of residency training in internal medicine at the University of Virginia followed by three years of neurology residency at UCSF. He is board certified in neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Most recently, he served as a professor of neurology at the UCSF School of Medicine, in addition to a series of leadership positions at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center.

For more information, contact: Tara Doolittle, 471-4550.