James Willerson, president of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, Houston, said he will resign to become president of the Texas Heart Institute at St. Lukes Episcopal Hospital after the university names his successor. Willerson, 67, was named president-elect of the Texas Heart Institute at St. Lukes in November 2004 and will succeed cardiac surgeon Denton Cooley, 87, who will then become president emeritus.
I have known Dr. Willerson for many years, before his entry into medicine, said Cooley, who founded the institute in 1962 and has performed more than 100,000 open-heart surgeries. He really cherishes his position as a practicing physician and cardiologist and believes he will more effectively and efficiently practice his specialty of cardiology in this role.
Willerson, who was not available for an interview, has served as president at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center for seven years. In a news release, the Texas Heart Institute said Willerson is leading one of the first FDA-approved clinical trials to treat patients with end-stage heart disease using their own bone marrow-derived stem cells.
The University of Texas System's Board of Regents will soon form a committee to conduct a national search to name Willerson's successor, according to Anthony de Bruyn, director of public affairs for the university system. The search could take a minimum of six months to one year, de Bruyn said. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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