His appointment was announced in February by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. Dr. Sumaya is the administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, a U.S. Public Health Service agency within Shalala's department.
Dr. Sumaya, professor of pediatrics and pathology, served on the Presidential Task Force on Health Care Reform in 1993. He is on administrative absence from the Health Science Center during his tenure in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Sumaya's agency has a $3 billion budget and is charged with assuring health care services to the underserved and developing qualified primary care professionals for the nation.
"Dr. Sumaya's vision, sensitivity to the needs of South Texas and his ability to orchestrate the activities of diverse publics toward common goals will be sorely missed by the Medical School, the Health Science Center and the people of South Texas. He has been an enormous presence in so many of our activities directed to the medically underserved communities and people of South Texas," said James J. Young, PhD, dean of the Medical School.
"Dr. Sumaya's medical leadership and his service to all of South Texas have been of invaluable," said John P. Howe III, MD, president. "The changes, the innovations, the improvements that have been brought to South Texas under Dr. Sumaya's leadership will be felt for generations. How fortunate for this nation that he will now have an opportunity to direct such a major portion of our health care on a national level."
"President Clinton could not have made a wiser choice. Despite the fact that he will be missed here at the Health Science Center, we couldn't be more pleased for Dr. Sumaya and for the country," Dr. Howe said.
Dr. Sumaya's accomplishments at the Health Science Center include expanding continuing medical education programs for health professionals, particularly AIDS education and training, and developing and directing the federally funded Area Health Education Centers of South Texas, a comprehensive project to improve the health manpower capacity of this impoverished region. He also was instrumental in establishing the South Texas Health Research Center, a multi-million dollar institution that is monitoring and evaluating the long-term health status and needs of South Texas.
"Throughout his career, Dr. Sumaya has devoted himself to a broad spectrum of public health issues, including health care access and delivery, health promotion and disease prevention, and minority and women's health, among others," Shalala said. "This, as well as his experience in medical research, teaching and patient care, make him uniquely suited to the job, and we are extremely pleased that he has accepted the post."