UNM Rainforest Innovations

Executive Vice President, UNM Health Sciences

Chief Executive Officer, UNM Health System 


BS – Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina

MD – Pennsylvania State University Medical School

MPH – Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University 

Business/Research Background

Dr. Ziedonis was appointed Executive Vice President (EVP) of UNM Health Sciences and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the UNM Health System on December 1, 2020.  He is the executive leader for the UNM Health Sciences Center, which includes the education, research, clinical, and community activities of UNM Health Sciences and the UNM Health System. 

He has a breadth of experience and leadership roles at academic institutions as varied as the University of California San Diego, UCLA, UMass, Yale University, and Rutgers, and extensive work with diverse populations, including indigenous communities. Additionally, his own medical and public health background and accomplishments have targeted addressing health disparities—including issues such as homelessness, mental illness, and addiction—and being a champion for diversity.

Dr. Ziedonis previously served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences (AVC) at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), with broad senior leadership responsibilities in all mission areas, including strategic planning coordination, health system matters, and leadership, coordination and evaluation to all Health Science Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Public Health. During the past 13 years at UCSD and UMass, his senior leadership roles included being Chief Academic Officer, President of UMass Memorial Behavioral Health Services, Department Chair, and Hospital Board of Trustee. 

Particular Knowledge and Skills

Dr. Ziedonis’ prior work with state, county, federal, Veterans Affairs, community, and business leaders led to improvement in services to state’s citizens and in better understanding and addressing critical public health and health concerns. As a leader, he has demonstrated visionary and strategic skills and is operations-oriented depending on the role and needs of an organization including operational strengths in finance, academics, philanthropy, facilities, and human resources. Dr. Ziedonis is also recognized nationally and internationally for his academic and policy work. He was a tenured full Professor in Psychiatry at UCSD who has also served as a faculty at Yale, Rutgers, and UMass in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and Biomedical Science.

Dr. Ziedonis is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with a strong academic research career of his own, in which he has led teams and received over 118 grants with over 25 years of continuous National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other research funding, and 320+ publications and other scholarly works. His research has led to new discoveries, innovations, and policies related to addiction, mental illness, homelessness, obesity, disabilities, and health disparities. His experience will help provide excellence in research and career mentoring, a passion of his, especially leading successful career development and leadership programs and offices. 

Dr. Ziedonis has received international and national recognition for his academic research and leadership work, including invitations to speak around the globe. He has received numerous honors and awards from organizations and universities, including the American Psychiatric Association, National Institutes of Health, America’s Top Psychiatrists, Best Doctors in America, the Women’s Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentoring to Women Faculty at UMass, the Clinical Science Mentoring Award at Rutgers, and even an award now named in his honor, the “Ziedonis Career Development Award” at UMass,

He is board-certified in addiction psychiatry, as well as general psychiatry, by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). He is currently licensed in the states of California and Massachusetts.  A Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Ziedonis received his B.S. at Davidson College (1981), his M.D. at Pennsylvania State University Medical School (1985), and served his internship at UCLA and West Los Angeles VA Medical Center (1985-86), a general psychiatry residency at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute (1986-89), a chief residency at the UCLA Department of Psychiatry & Brentwood VA (1988-89), and an addiction psychiatry fellowship at UCLA and Brentwood VA.  He received his MPH at Yale University Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. 

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