Ricardo Azziz

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Ricardo Azziz
Dr. Ricardo Azziz.jpg
Regents' Professor at Georgia Regents University
In office
July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2015
Succeeded by Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D.
Former President of Georgia Regents University and CEO of Georgia Regents Health System
In office
Personal details
Born (1958-03-25) March 25, 1958 (age 58)
Montevideo, Uruguay
Residence Augusta, Georgia, United States
Alma mater University of Puerto Rico
Penn State University
Georgetown University
Profession Professor, obstetrician, gynecologist, researcher

Ricardo Azziz is Regents' Professor in Georgia Regents University's departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medicine and Medical Humanities; Senior Fellow with the American Association of State Universities & Colleges; Visiting Scholar at the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California; and a researcher in the field of reproductive endocrinology, specifically androgen excess disorders.[1] He was formerly president of Georgia Regents University (GRU) in Augusta, Georgia (United States), and former chief executive officer[2] of its health system.[3]

He became president of then-Medical College of Georgia[4][5] (MCG) and CEO of its health system in July 2010. The university was renamed Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) and later consolidated with Augusta State University in January 2013 to form Georgia Regents University.

Azziz is a senior mentor of the Network of Minority Research Investigators of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases[6][7] and a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He has authored six textbooks, more than 150 chapters and reviews, and over 200 peer-reviewed articles.[7]

He is also a visual artist and the creator of a significant portfolio of work, primarily pen-and-ink drawings reminiscent of the Surrealist style of the early 20th century.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Azziz was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1958. His early years were spent in nomadic excursions from Uruguay to Puerto Rico to Costa Rica with his parents while they engaged in Ph.D.-level research before returning to Puerto Rico to begin his collegiate studies.[7]

Azziz earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology/pre-med, graduating magna cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico, in Mayagüez. He then enrolled in the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, graduating in 1981. Following an internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Azziz completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.[7]

Azziz later earned his M.P.H. in General Theory and Practice in 1995 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and his M.B.A. from UAB in 2000, graduating with honors as he was inducted in the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).[4]

In September 2014, Azziz received the Penn State Alumni Fellow Award, the university's most prestigious alumni award; and served as the featured speaker for the PSU College of Medicine's Convocation and Awards ceremony.[9]

Early career[edit]

Prior to his appointment as president, Dr. Azziz was the Helping Hand of Los Angeles Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he also served as director of the Center for Androgen Related Disorders. During his tenure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA, Azziz led institution-wide initiatives to measure and improve faculty productivity, new faculty development and retention, and academic excellence. He also served as health systems executive for one of the largest providers of OB/GYN services in California, in one of the largest free-standing medical centers in the Western United States.[10] Under his leadership, the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology consistently ranked among the top 30 institutions providing gynecologic services in U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Hospitals survey.[11] At the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, he was a professor, vice chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the assistant dean for Clinical and Translational Sciences.[12]

In 2005 Azziz was appointed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, the regulatory body for the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.[13]

Before arriving in Los Angeles, Azziz taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1987 to 2002, where he served in a variety of faculty positions in the departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Medicine.[14]

Azziz led the creation of an international nonprofit organization, the Androgen Excess & Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Society, and in 2002 was named the founding Executive Director.[15] He served in that capacity until 2007. He is the former president and a former board member of the Society of Reproductive Surgeons and also formerly served on the board of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.[13]

Other past positions include serving as a representative to the Council of Academic Societies of the American Association of Medical Colleges; former chairman of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Advisory Committee on Reproductive Health Drugs; former member of the Reproductive Endocrinology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); member of the Data and Safety Monitoring Board panel for the National Institute of Health/National Child Health and Human Development Reproductive Medicine Network; and past president of the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine Alumni Society.[16]

MCG/GHSU presidency[edit]

In July 2010, Georgia state and school officials launched a new governance structure that put the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) clinical system back in the hands of the president. Thus when Azziz assumed the presidency, he took the helm of the MCG Health System/Medical College of Georgia integration effort, which then-University System of Georgia chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. called a "tremendously complex and extremely technical undertaking." The two entities had operated independently until then-governor Sonny Perdue signed a law that created a new overarching entity, MCG Health System Inc., with Azziz as its board chair and CEO. MCG Health Inc., which operated the hospital and clinics, and Physicians Practice Group, which handled the physicians billing and insurance, began to report to MCG Health System.[5]

Within a month, Azziz launched the Enterprise-Wide Strategic Planning initiative, which sought solutions in four primary areas: educational excellence, research growth, clinical integration/development, and workforce development. He also created a Faculty Satisfaction Action Team that relied on recommendations from the University Faculty Senate. The team began to address faculty concerns related to administrative bureaucracy, communications and development, and reward and recognition.[17]

In September 2010, Azziz asked for state approval to change the institution's name from Medical College of Georgia to Georgia Health Sciences University to further the goal of elevating the university's national profile. Studies had shown the relative lack of branding power the name "Medical College of Georgia" had among faculty and administrators the university was interested in recruiting; a majority did not know it was a full health sciences university.[8] In 2011, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the name change to GHSU, and the MCG-affiliated hospitals changed their names to keep in alignment with the brand identity.[18] The integrated academic medical center brought a strong credit rating from Moody's with the accompanying statement predicting, "… that MCG will benefit from its strengthened relationship with the Georgia Health Sciences University …"[19]

Shortly after integration, GHSU announced a teaching partnership with University Hospital that allowed students to complete rotations in particular specialties at University.[20]

Azziz led the development of a strategic plan to guide GHSU over the next decade with the goal of becoming a world-class institution. The plan, called "Transformation 2020", highlighted organizational values to dictate future decision-making processes, which Azziz expanded on in his official blog.[21] He was named to Georgia Trend's 100 Influential Georgians for a second consecutive year in 2012, in part due to the strategic plan's scope and vision.[22]

Georgia Regents University[edit]

Before the integration was completed, the USG Board of Regents approved the consolidation of GHSU and Augusta State University, and Azziz was selected founding President of the resulting new university.[23] The joining of a primarily graduate and professional level research university with selective admissions standards with a primarily undergraduate level university with an access mission was described as "one of the most complex consolidations undertaken in [Georgia], ... if not in the country." [24] Under Azziz's leadership, the consolidation team developed a new strategic plan called "Transition Forward" to articulate the mission, vision, and values of the consolidated university and map out the strategies and tactics for achieving them. Upon consolidation, GRU became Georgia's newest comprehensive research university, in addition to being the state's only public academic health center and only dental school.

The consolidation triggered a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) substantive change review to affirm the new university met accreditation standards. The review was scheduled only months after consolidation, and the committee affirmed the consolidation's success with no recommendations for further action needed. Mark Smith, SACSCOC Vice President, called that achievement "a rarity." [25] Azziz's success was featured in a Time magazine article focused on consolidation as a trend among higher education.[26] The successful consolidation was even more noteworthy, as the USG provided no funding for the work needed to consolidate.[22]

During his early tenure, several issues caused concern among some local residents: the selection of a university name that did not include "Augusta" [27] the use of university staff at a private event, and renovations at the President's residence done without approval through proper channels. The first was resolved by including "Augusta" in the name on signs and for marketing purposes,[28] the second and third were rectified and reimbursed,[29] and related policies were clarified and trained on.[30]

GRU presidency[edit]

Within the first few months of consolidation, Azziz led GRU in accomplishing several milestones that expanded the footprint, reach and reputation of the new university. Georgia Regents Medical Center entered into a pioneering partnership with Philips Royal, a manufacturer of health care devices. The alliance is a first-of-its-kind delivery model in the United States with state-of-the-art methods for efficient and effective patient- and family-centered health care.[5] GRU was awarded a Confucius Institute, in partnership with Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the first in the Western Hemisphere to focus on traditional Chinese medicine.[31] The partnership aims to provide language and culture instruction to health professionals and is in line with Georgia Board of Regents’ plan to globalize education.[32] GRMC began managing inpatient rehabilitation and long-term acute care services at Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation under a plan to bring the historic facility into a contemporary medical model.[33] MCG opened satellite campuses in Albany, Rome, and Savannah[34] in order to ease Georgia's physician shortage, particularly in rural areas. And to increase access for local students, a partnership was formed with East Georgia State College where students who do not meet GRU's entrance requirements can enroll there as East Georgia students and, if successful, can transfer to GRU after two years.[35]

The USG BOR identified ambitious goals for the new university: to increase opportunities to raise education attainment levels; improve accessibility, regional identity, and compatibility; avoid duplication of academic programs, while optimizing access to instruction; create significant potential for economies of scale and scope; enhance regional economic development; and streamline administrative services, while maintaining or improving service level and quality.[36] On September 9, 2014, Azziz delivered a report to the BOR, describing significant progress toward achieving those goals in only the first 19 months of GRU's existence. These include increases in freshman retention (+7%), freshman progression (+278%), graduation rates (+36%), admission standards, enrollment (health sciences graduate/professional +9.5%, new freshmen +2.3%, new transfers +16%), alumni giving (+47.5%), research funding (+2%), among others. At the same time, administrative costs declined 10 percent.[24]

On October 17, 2014, Azziz presided over the grand opening of a new, state-of-the-art medical and dental education building, the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons, which Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said was part of the state's goal to " ... make Georgia Regents University Augusta one of the 50 top medical schools in the entire country." [37]

Having achieved the vast majority of the goals which he was tasked with, in January 2015 Azziz announced he would step down from his position as president of GRU and CEO of GRHealth, effective June 30, 2015, with the intent of pursuing, in the short term, research and analysis related to increasing student success, improving diversity & inclusion on campus, maximizing the value of the biomedical research & clinical enterprises to the university, and change management in academia.


Azziz is an expert in female reproductive disorders, particularly androgen excess and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).[38] A clinical translational researcher, Azziz developed an ongoing internationally recognized program of investigation in androgen excess disorders in women, funded by the NIH since 1988. He has generated more than 600 publications, reviews and chapters, and various texts,[39] and authored/edited numerous books (see "Publications" below).

His research has helped link PCOS with a body's resistance to the effects of insulin by examining the role of miRNA-93,[40] shown how obesity relates to a person's risk of PCOS,[41] and highlighted the adrenal gland's impact on increased androgen in PCOS. In addition, Azziz's work with hyperplasia, hyperandrogenemia, and other disorders has been published in various journals such as the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism[42] and Journal of Reproductive Medicine.[43]

Honors and awards[edit]

  • Cheston M. Berlin Award, Penn State Univ. College of Medicine Alumni Society, 1992
  • Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society of AACSB Accredited Business Programs, 2000
  • Society for Gynecologic Investigation President's Achievement Award for Clinical Research, 2000
  • Recipient of the Endowed ‘Helping Hand of Los Angeles Chair in Obstetrics & Gynecology’ Chair, 2002-2010
  • 100 Most Influential Georgians – Georgia Trend magazine, 2011–15
  • Elected member of the Association of American Physicians, one of only four Ob/Gyns in the nation to receive this distinction (founded in 1885 for the advancement of scientific and practical medicine, the AAP honors individuals who have attained excellence in the pursuit of medical knowledge, and the advancement through experimentation and discovery of basic and clinical science and their application to clinical medicine), 2014–present
  • Alumni Fellow Award of the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) Alumni Association, the highest honor conferred by the PSU Alumni Association, 2014
  • PCOS Challenge Leadership and Advocacy Award, PCOS Challenge, 2014
  • Establishment of endowed ‘Ricardo Azziz PCOS Challenge Advocacy Leadership Award’, PCOS Challenge, Inc.
  • Establishment of endowed ‘Ricardo Azziz Presidential Scholarship’, GRU Board of Visitors
  • Establishment of endowed ‘Ricardo Azziz Distinguished Researcher Award’, Androgen Excess & PCOS Society, Inc.
  • June 2, 2015 proclaimed ‘Ricardo Azziz Day’, City of Augusta


  • Cundiff G, Azziz R, Bristow R, eds. Te Linde's Atlas of Gynecologic Surgery. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2013.
  • Azziz R, ed. The Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Currents Concepts On Pathogenesis And Clinical Practice. Springer, New York, 2007.
  • Azziz R, ed. Obstetrics & Gynecology: Cases, Questions, and Answers. McGraw-Hill Medical, New York, 2007.
  • Giudice LC, Legro RS, Azziz R, eds. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Hyperandrogenism, Best Practice & Research-Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 20, number 2, Elsevier Pub., June 2006.
  • Azziz R, Nestler JE, Dewailly D, eds. Androgen Excess Disorders in Women – Second Edition. Humana Press, Totowa, New Jersey, 2006.
  • Carr B, Blackwell RE, Azziz R, eds. Essential Reproductive Endocrinology. McGraw-Hill Publishers, New York, 2004.
  • Azziz R, Nestler JE, Dewailly D, eds. Androgen Excess Disorders in Women. Lippincott-Raven Publishers, Philadelphia, Pa, 1997.
  • Azziz R, Murphy AA, eds. Practical Manual of Operative Laparoscopy and Hysteroscopy – Second Edition. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1997 (also translated to Chinese).
  • Azziz R, Murphy AA, eds. Practical Manual of Operative Laparoscopy and Hysteroscopy. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1992.


  1. ^ Azziz, Ricardo; Enrico Carmina; Didier Dewailly; Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis; Hector F. Escobar-Morreale; Walter Futterweit; Onno E. Janssen; Richard S. Legro; Robert J. Norman; Ann E. Taylor; Selma F. Witchel (1 November 2006). "Criteria for Defining Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as a Predominantly Hyperandrogenic Syndrome: An Androgen Excess Society Guideline". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 91 (11): 4237–4245. doi:10.1210/jc.2006-0178. 
  2. ^ http://www.gru.edu/president/ataglance.php
  3. ^ Houston, Ryan (30 April 2013). "Dr. Azziz discusses plans, goals for GRU in presidential address". Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Dr. Ricardo Azziz Named President of the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia's Health Sciences Univ.". University System of Georgia. University System of Georgia. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Corwin, Tom. "President takes reins at MCG". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Network of Minority Research Investigators Workshop" (PDF). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Dr. Ricardo Azziz Med '81". Penn State Hershey College of Medicine. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Grillo, Jerry. "New Direction, New Name". Georgia Trend. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Penn Staters honored with Alumni Fellow Award". Penn State News. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  10. ^ Oh, Jaimie. "50 Largest Hospitals in America". Becker's Hospital Review. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "2011 Report to the Community" (PDF). Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  12. ^ MIKE SCHWARTZ (June 15, 2004). "SMALL DOSES; Ovarian disorder often misdiagnosed". Press Enterprise. 
  13. ^ a b "Ricardo Azziz, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.". UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Alumni in the News: Dr. Ricardo Azziz". University of Alabama at Burmingham. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "A brief history of the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society". Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "At a Glance". Georgia Regents University. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "Major Initiatives mark first 90 days". Medical College of Georgia. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  18. ^ Mirshak, Meg (22 June 2011). "MCG Hospitals Change Names". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  19. ^ "MOODY'S AFFIRMS MCG HEALTH, INC.'S (GA) A2 ISSUER RATING; OUTLOOK REMAINS STABLE". Moody's. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  20. ^ "GHSU-University Hospital enhanced affiliation will enable enhanced research collaboration". WRDW. 6 Sep 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  21. ^ "Our Values: Our Compass". Georgia Regents University. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Grillo, Jerry. "Georgia's Power List". Georgia Trend. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  23. ^ Laura Diamond. "Historic vote merges eight Georgia colleges into four", "The Atlantic Journal Constitution", 8 January 2013. Retrieved on October 17, 2014.
  24. ^ a b Walter Jones. "Georgia Regents University reports positive trends since merger", "Insider Advantage Georgia", 10 September 2014. Retrieved on October 17, 2014.
  25. ^ GReport. "SACS visit a Success", 9 September 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  26. ^ Marcus, Jon (19 July 2013). "Cash-strapped universities turn to corporate-style consolidation.". TIME magazine. TIME. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  27. ^ Staff writer. "Board picks Georgia Regents University as name for consolidated school in Augusta", The Augusta Chronicle, Augusta, Ga., 7 August 2012. Retrieved on October 17, 2014.
  28. ^ Staff writer. "Augusta will be in consolidated university name, but not officially", "The Augusta Chronicle", Augusta, Ga., 25 October 2012. Retrieved on October 17, 2014.
  29. ^ Steve Crawford. "Azziz to reimburse GRU for resources used at private wedding", "The Augusta Chronicle", Augusta, Ga., 22 April 2013. Retrieved on October 17, 2014.
  30. ^ Steve Crawford."Regents audit finds GRU officials violated policy", "The Augusta Chronicle", Augusta, Ga., 17 May 2013. Retrieved on October 17, 2014.
  31. ^ Hanban News. "Confucius Institute at Georgia Regents University Grand Opening", 30 April 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  32. ^ "Ga. Regents Creating Confucius Institute". GPB News. Associated Press. 11 July 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  33. ^ Owen, Mike (8 July 2013). "Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute under new management arrangement". Ledger-Enquirer. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  34. ^ Corwin, Tom (17 June 2008). "MCG names new Savannah chief". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  35. ^ Jones, Walter C. (14 May 2013). "Students who can't get into GRU can attend East Georgia State". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  36. ^ University System of Georgia. "Six Principles of Consolidation", 8 November 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  37. ^ WFXG Fox54 Augusta. "GRU opens new multimillion dollar education Commons" 16 October 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  38. ^ WJBF ABC News Channel 6 Augusta. "GRU's Dr. Azziz Honored for Women's Health Contributions", 24 September 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  39. ^ "Ricardo Azziz, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A." (PDF). Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  40. ^ "miRNA-93 inhibits GLUT4 and is overexpressed in adipose tissue of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome patients and women with insulin resistance". American Diabetes Association. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  41. ^ Yildiz, Bulent O.; Eric Knochenhauer; Ricardo Azziz (Jan 1, 2008). "Impact of Obesity on the Risk for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 93 (1): 162–168. doi:10.1210/jc.2007-1834. PMC 2190739Freely accessible. PMID 17925334. 
  42. ^ "Search Results". The Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  43. ^ Farah, Lisa; A. Jan Lazenby; Larry R. Boots; Ricardo Azziz; et al. (Alabama Professional Electrology Association Study Group) (1999). "Prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Women Seeking Treatment from Community Electrologists". The Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 

External links[edit]