Kern Wildenthal, M.D., Ph.D President
UT Southwestern Medical Center

The great majority of the faculty and staff at UT Southwestern Medical Center have known and worked under only one president: Dr. Kern Wildenthal.  While serving as the institution’s leader for over two decades, Dr. Wildenthal has overseen a remarkable growth of the medical center and a significant enhancement of its local and worldwide reputation for excellence.

Since deciding in 2006 to announce his retirement this year, he has been planning his future activities after stepping down in 2008.

“In addition to helping Southwestern Medical Foundation with its activities, I am looking forward to assisting the new president in any way he or she wishes,” he said.  “I’m also happy to be able to become president of the Dallas Opera board for two years beginning in 2008, a responsibility that I was never able to undertake while serving as president of UT Southwestern.”  Additionally, he will continue working toward completion of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, for which he was a founding board member.

On the international level, Dr. Wildenthal will continue to serve on the American advisory board of England’s University of Cambridge, as an honorary fellow of Cambridge’s Hughes Hall, and as a director of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. He will remain active in the International Society for Heart Research, for which he served previously as president of the North American Section.

“I am also looking forward to having time to do some writing about public policy on health care and medical research, and about some of the remarkable physicians, scientists, philanthropists, and civic and political figures I have had the unique opportunity to know and work with in Texas and around the world over the past three decades,” he said.        


Dr. Wildenthal’s career in medicine began when he was accepted to UT Southwestern Medical School in the spring of 1960 at the age of 18. After graduating in 1964, he interned at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and then returned to UT Southwestern for an internal medicine residency and a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiology.  He received further experience in cardiology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., before crossing the Atlantic for additional training, earning a Ph.D. in cell physiology from the University of Cambridge in England in 1970.

Dr. Wildenthal then returned to Dallas to join the faculty of UT Southwestern Medical School as an assistant professor of internal medicine and physiology.  He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1971.  Four years later he won a Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct further research at Cambridge, the same year his Southwestern students voted him outstanding teacher of the year.

Upon his return in 1976, Dr. Wildenthal added administrative responsibilities to his research, clinical and teaching activities, when he was selected by the faculty and then-president Dr. Charles Sprague to serve as dean of the graduate school.

In 1980, at the age of 38, he was named dean of the medical school.  Upon his appointment, he was the youngest dean of any American medical school, and six years later, when he became UT Southwestern’s president, he was still the country’s youngest medical school dean.

Since 1986, he has served as UT Southwestern’s president, the longest tenure of any current president at a Texas state university or medical center.

While at UT Southwestern, Dr. Wildenthal has been a visiting professor and conference organizer in more than 20 countries and has authored 130 scientific papers in basic research and clinical cardiology, as well as numerous articles on health and education policy issues.

He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and numerous other societies.  He has chaired the North American Section of the International Society for Heart Research; the Science Policy Committee of the Association of Academic Health Centers; the Basic Science Council and the Science Advisory Committee of the American Heart Association; and the Program Project Research Review Committee of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Locally, Dr. Wildenthal has served on a number of boards of community organizations, including the Dallas Citizens Council, Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Dallas Assembly, Science Place (now the Museum of Nature & Science), Southwestern Medical Foundation, Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony, Dallas Museum of Art and Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.

Southern Methodist University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2006 for his civic and professional achievements, and TACA honored him in 2004 with the Neiman Marcus Silver Cup Award for outstanding volunteer contributions to the arts in Dallas.  In 2006 he and his wife, Marnie, a teacher at the Episcopal School of Dallas and an active community volunteer, were honored jointly by Texas Woman’s University, when they received the Virginia Chandler Dykes Award for Leadership.

In addition to his appointment as president, Dr. Wildenthal is professor of internal medicine and physiology at UT Southwestern, and he holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery Jr., M.D., Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration and the Carolyn P. and Frank M. Ryburn Jr. Distinguished Chair in Basic Research in Heart Disease.