Haile T. Debas, MD, is recognized internationally for his contributions to academic medicine and is widely consulted on issues associated with global health. At the University of California, San Francisco, he served as the Founding Executive Director of UCSF Global Health Sciences (2003-2010), Dean of the School of Medicine (1993-2003), Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs for six years, and Chancellor for one year. A gastrointestinal surgeon by training, Dr. Debas chaired the UCSF Department of Surgery (1987-2003), and is the Maurice Galante Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Emeritus. He also was the Founding Director of the University of California Global Health Institute from 2009 to 2016.
A native of Eritrea, Dr. Debas received his MD from McGill University and completed his surgical training at the University of British Columbia and post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA. He has held faculty positions at UBC, UCLA, and the University of Washington. Under his stewardship, the UCSF School of Medicine became a national model for medical education, an achievement for which he was recognized with the 2004 Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Dr. Debas’s prescient grasp of the implications of fundamental changes in science led him to create several interdisciplinary research centers that have been instrumental in reorganizing the scientific community at UCSF. He played a key role in developing UCSF’s new campus at Mission Bay. In 2012, he was awarded the UCSF Medal for his academic and leadership contributions to the University.
Dr. Debas has held leadership positions with numerous membership organizations and professional associations, including serving as president of the American Surgical Association and Chair of the Council of Deans of the AAMC. He served for two terms as a member of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy of the National Academy of Sciences; served four years on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health; and was a member of the United Nations’ Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa.
Dr. Debas is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently serves as Chair pro-tem of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University and previously served on the Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He was instrumental in the creation of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, where he served as Founding Chair of the Board of Directors (2009-2012). Dr. Debas was a lead editor of the Essential Surgery volume of Disease Control Priorities, Third Edition (DCP3), published by the World Bank in 2015.