Regents Appoint Santa J. Ono as University of Michigan’s Next President

Santa J. Ono, Ph.D., is president-elect of the University of Michigan. He recently began a five-year term as the university’s 15th president in mid-October.

Ono, 59, was most recently the 15th president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia, where he has served since 2016. He is an experienced vision researcher whose pioneering work in experimental medicine focuses on the immune system and eye disease.

He also serves as chair of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, on the board of directors of Universities Canada and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and as past chair of Research Universities of British Columbia. He is the leader of the University Climate Change Coalition and a member of the International Advisory Board of Keio University, Terramera Strategic Advisory Board, Steering Committee of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, the Government of Canada’s Industry Advisory Ad Hoc Roundtable on COVID-19 Testing, and the boards of Fulbright Canada and Mitacs.

He has served on the boards of the American Council on Education and the Council on Competitiveness, as chief innovation adviser to the Province of British Columbia, and as co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy for the Government of Canada.

Prior to his appointment as president and vice chancellor of UBC, Ono served as the 28th president of the University of Cincinnati and senior vice provost and deputy to the provost at Emory University. He also served as professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

While serving at the University of Cincinnati, he was appointed by Gov. John Kasich to lead Ohio’s Biopharmaceutical Task Force and to the Board of the Ohio Third Frontier – Ohio’s technology-based economic development program.

A vision researcher educated at the University of Chicago and McGill University, Ono has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and University College London. He has advised national and regional governments on higher education and mental health. He also has advised companies such as GSK, Johnson & Johnson,

Merck and Novartis, and served as director and chief scientific officer of iCo Therapeutics.

Ono has served on the editorial boards for a number of peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals, including Immunology, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, The Journal of Immunology and The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

He has been inducted as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, USA and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. In 2022, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

He holds honorary doctorates from Chiba University and the Vancouver School of Theology and is a recipient of the Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education, the Professional Achievement Award from University of Chicago, a Grand Challenges Hero Award from UCLA and the NAAAP 100 Award from the National Association of Asian American Professionals.

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