He was formerly president of Georgia Regents University (GRU), now Augusta University, in Augusta, Georgia (United States), and former chief executive officer of its health system.
Prior to his current position, he served as president of then Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and CEO of its health system beginning in July 2010. The university was renamed Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) and later consolidated with Augusta State University in January 2012 to form GRU, a transformation he led.
Dr. Azziz is also an active and well published researcher in biomedical sciences (with a focus on hormonal disorders in women) and change management in academe (with a focus on mergers and consolidations). Finally, he is 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.
Azziz was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1958. His early years were spent in nomadic excursions from Uruguay to Puerto Rico to Costa Rica and then to the United States with his parents while they engaged in Ph.D.-level research before returning to Uruguay and Puerto Rico to begin his collegiate studies.
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 (Ob/Gyn) at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Azziz completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
Azziz later earned his M.P.H. in General Theory and Practice in 1995 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and his M.B.A. from UAB in 2000, graduating with honors and inducted in the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Azziz is a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
From 1987 to 2002, Azziz taught at UAB where he served in a variety of faculty positions in the departments of Ob/Gyn.
Dr. Azziz became Chair of the Department of Ob/Gyn, Co-Director of the Women’s & Children’s Service Line at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CSMC). He was also appointed the Helping Hand of Los Angeles Chair in Ob/Gyn and also served as director of the Center for Androgen Related Disorders at CSMC. In these roles he served as a health system 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. Under his leadership, the Department at CSMC consistently ranked among the top 30 institutions providing gynecologic services in U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Hospitals survey. 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.
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 serving in that capacity until 2007. He has served as the Senior Executive Director since 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.
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.
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.
In July 2010, Dr. Azziz became president of then Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and CEO of its health System. Previously, the university and health system had operated independently until then governor Sonny Perdue signed a law that created a new overarching entity, the MCG Health System, Inc.
In September 2010, Azziz asked for state approval to change the institution's name from Medical College of Georgia to Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) to further the goal of elevating the university's national profile. 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.
Before the integration of the university and health system was complete, the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents (BOR) approved the consolidation of GHSU and Augusta State University, and Azziz was selected founding President of the resulting new university. 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." 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. On January 8, 2013 the USG BOR approved the consolidation of GHSU and Augusta State University to create Georgia Regents University (GRU). 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.
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.
In January 2015, Azziz announced he would step down from his position as president of GRU and CEO of GRHealth, effective June 30, 2015, having achieved most of the transformative goals set for him by the USG BOR. He then joined the Pullias Center for Higher Education, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California as Visiting Scholar to pursue scholarship and analysis related to increasing student success, improving diversity & inclusion on campus, and change management in academia.
Azziz is an expert in female reproductive disorders, particularly androgen excess and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). 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 500 publications, reviews and chapters, and various texts, and authored/edited numerous books.
His research has helped link PCOS with a body's resistance to the effects of insulin by examining the role of miRNA-93, shown how obesity relates to a person's risk of PCOS, and highlighted the adrenal gland's impact on increased androgen in PCOS. Azziz's work has been published in various journals such as the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and Journal of Reproductive Medicine.
Dr. Azziz is also is a recognized thought leader in change management in academe, with a particular focus on mergers and consolidations in higher education, and in furthering diversity and inclusion in higher education, being appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to lead the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute. He also serves as senior mentor of the Network of Minority Research Investigators of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Dr. Azziz is an accomplished visual artist, in the traditional surrealist style, with a published retrospective. He served as member of the Art Department at Georgia Regents University.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,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