New College of Medicine dean selected

College of Medicine founder and namesake, Herbert Wertheim. (Photo by Joshua Ceballos)

By: Joshua Ceballos/ News Director


The Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine has found its new dean after over a year of searching.

Dr. Robert Sackstein, current professor at Harvard Medical School, will be taking over for Dean Dr. John Rock in January 2019.

New College of Medicine Dean Robert Sackstein

Sackstein was born in Havana, Cuba and came to the U.S. when he was four years old. He was raised in Miami and attended Southwest High School in Olympia Heights, according to a press release FIU Media Relations sent to Student Media.

Dr. Herbert Wertheim, founder of the University’s College of Medicine, told Student Media that because Sackstein is Hispanic and Miami-raised, he is a wonderful fit for FIU.

“He’s going to be such a great mentor to many of our Latin-American students and our students from abroad,” said Wertheim.

Wertheim was the co-chair of the first committee that chose current Dean Dr. John Rock to lead the College of Medicine, and he co-chaired the one that selected Sackstein. In both cases, Wertheim said, his feelings were equal.

“When I was on the committee that chose the first dean, I said ‘there’s only one choice: John Rock,’” said Wertheim. “On the most recent committee I said the same thing, ‘there’s only one choice and it’s Robert Sackstein.’”

Wertheim said that Sackstein will bring with him a new drive towards research that will greatly help the University and build on the foundation that Rock has established. Sackstein’s experience with graduate students at Harvard will translate to great improvement of the College of Medicine’s research programs.

Wertheim also said that one of the areas that Sackstein currently researches happens to be close to his own heart.

“His glycemic research is so important. I have a granddaughter who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at seven years old… so the research he’s involved in is looking at the cellular aspect of getting the body to make insulin [for people with diabetes], and that’s very important,” said Wertheim.

University President Mark B. Rosenberg said that the search committee for the new dean had dozens of qualified candidates, but Sackstein had the right combination of characteristics that make him a perfect fit for FIU.

“Sackstein’s got passion, energy, vision, deep commitment to patient care and a deep commitment to sickness prevention… he’s basically Dr. Rock II,” said Rosenberg to Student Media.

When Sackstein takes office at the University, Rock will be leaving to the United Arab Emirates, where he will be founding a college of medicine there in the city of Abu Dhabi. Once he’s finished his work there, Rock told Student Media he will return to FIU as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

“While I’m gone I’ll miss the spirit, the excitement and the attitude to get things done. I love this place,” Rock said.

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