RUSH Names Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, President & Chief Academic Officer of RUSH University

Dr. Higgins returns to RUSH to serve as RUSH University’s fifth president and chief academic officer
Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA

Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, has been selected to serve as the next President & Chief Academic Officer of RUSH University and Chief Academic Officer, Senior Vice President of RUSH. Dr. Higgins’ selection follows a nationwide search led by a committee that included a University student, deans, faculty and staff, as well as RUSH senior leaders and board members. Dr. Higgins will start in his role at RUSH University in April 2024.

Dr. Higgins will provide outstanding leadership to sustain and grow RUSH University’s strong tradition of excellence and commitment to the communities RUSH University and RUSH serve.

Dr. Higgins will report to Dr. Omar Lateef, President & CEO of RUSH. As president and chief academic officer, he will be responsible for the whole of RUSH University with an innovative vision on advancing and elevating RUSH as a nationally renowned leader in healthcare education and research. He will work to uphold the mission of RUSH University including the organization’s commitment to gender equity and diversity; its teaching mission; and the growth of basic, clinical and translational research.

Dr. Higgins will also serve as Chief Academic Officer, Senior Vice President, RUSH. In this capacity, he will lead academic and clinical integration across RUSH, ensuring alignment of clinical programs with the University and clinical locations. 

“Dr. Higgins’ work and exemplary leadership at multiple world-renowned organizations makes him an incredible addition to RUSH’s leadership team,” Dr. Lateef said. “His commitment to education, healthcare access, advocacy and research reflects RUSH University’s mission and vision to be an innovative leader focused on strong academics and research, rooted in community outreach and health equity.”

Dr. Higgins returns to RUSH from Mass General Brigham in Massachusetts where he served as executive vice president as well as president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he was responsible for the vitality and success of the clinical, academic and educational mission of the Brigham in support of patients locally and across the globe.

“I am honored and excited to return to RUSH and to partner with Dr. Lateef and other senior leaders to shape and bring to life the next chapter of RUSH University and RUSH,” Dr. Higgins said. “This is a coming home of sorts for our family. I also have great admiration for the faculty and students of RUSH University and the outstanding care provided at RUSH. I look forward to building on RUSH’s strong commitment to and well-deserved reputation for excellence and applying my experiences since leaving in 2010 to shape our shared growth and commitment as a leading academic health care system in the future.” 

A leader in heart and lung transplantation, minimally invasive cardiac surgery and mechanical circulatory support, Dr. Higgins has also been recognized nationally and internationally for his research in health policy and access to care; improving outcomes among heart failure and cardiac surgery patients; racial disparities in post-transplant outcomes; and the mechanism of cell injury in failing hearts.

From 2003 to 2010, Dr. Higgins served as the Mary and John Bent Professor and chair of the Department of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery at RUSH. He was also responsible for the Thoracic Surgery Residency Program within RUSH Medical College.

Before joining Mass General Brigham, Higgins was director of the Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief and William Stewart Halsted Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Dr. Higgins earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and medical degree from Yale School of Medicine. He completed a residency in general surgery and served as chief resident at the University Hospitals of Pittsburgh. He was a Winchester Scholar and fellow in cardiothoracic surgery at the Yale School of Medicine and earned a master’s degree in health services administration at Virginia Commonwealth University.

He succeeds Larry Goodman, MD, who served as interim president of RUSH University since May 2022.

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