Suresh Gunasekaran Tapped as Chief Executive of UCSF Health

Accomplished Health Care Leader to Take Helm of Preeminent Academic Medical Center and Health System

By Elizabeth Fernandez

Headshot of Suresh Gunasekaran
Suresh Gunasekaran, MBA, was named new chief executive officer of UCSF Health effective March 1, 2022. Photo courtesy of UI Health Care

UC San Francisco has named Suresh Gunasekaran, MBA, as the new president and chief executive officer of UCSF Health, bringing an accomplished leader to the world-renowned health system. The appointment was formally approved today by the University of California Board of Regents, effective March 1.

Gunasekaran brings more than 20 years of experience in health care administration and information technology, with a focus on quality and safety, patient service, collaboration, and operational excellence. In his current role as CEO of University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, he oversees the operational, strategic and financial performance of Iowa’s only comprehensive academic medical center, a more than $2 billion operation with 11,000 employees.

He also serves as senior associate vice president for University of Iowa Health Care, which includes UI Hospitals & Clinics, the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and UI Physicians, the most comprehensive multi-specialty medical and surgical group practice in Iowa. Before joining UI Health Care, Gunasekaran served as chief information officer and then as chief operations officer for the University of Texas Southwestern Health System, in Dallas.

As president and CEO of UCSF Health, Gunasekaran will take the helm of the clinical care enterprise of one of the nation’s preeminent health care organizations. He will have oversight of UCSF Medical Center, which is ranked among the top 10 hospitals nationwide, as well as two UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians, the UCSF Faculty Practice, and an expanding network of affiliate relationships.

“Suresh brings an impressive track record of health care leadership marked by strategic vision and strong financial performance, in service of his commitment to putting patients first,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “His longstanding dedication to health equity and compassion for the most vulnerable families in our communities, alongside his expertise in transforming health care operations, will guide UCSF Health well in the next stage of its growth.”

Gunasekaran succeeds Mark R. Laret, who retired Dec. 31 after leading UCSF’s clinical enterprise for 21 years. During that time, the academic medical center was transformed into a premier health system with multiple hospitals and outpatient facilities, serving more than 1 million patient visits each year.

His longstanding dedication to health equity and compassion for the most vulnerable families in our communities, alongside his expertise in transforming health care operations, will guide UCSF Health well in the next stage of its growth.

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood

Since joining the University of Iowa in November 2018, Gunasekaran worked closely with UI Health Care leaders to advance the organization’s three-part mission of biomedical research, medical education and training, and patient care. He also oversaw significant growth for the system over three years, consistently improving the health system’s operating margins and forging collaborations that increased investments in the academic enterprise.

He brought transformative quality changes to the UI Hospitals & Clinics, improving both the Vizient quality rankings and the CMS star rating. At the same time, Gunasekaran led the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a dual focus of supporting the faculty and staff in their tireless efforts and serving the community. He also led the development of a clinical strategy with targeted investments in strategic service lines and the construction of new facilities to build additional capacity, while developing regional pathways and new market partnerships to expand the system’s scope.

“We have a truly unique opportunity to change the way care is delivered in the Bay Area and beyond by delivering the latest advances and supporting our people in delivering high-quality care,” Gunasekaran said. “We will achieve this by working with our partners to deliver a system of care that meets patients where they are in a compassionate way. At the heart of this system will be an unwavering commitment to overcome systemic barriers to health equity.”

Gunasekaran brings a longstanding commitment to addressing systemic inequities and health disparities. At UI Health Care, he led several diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, including expansion of recruitment efforts, increased scholarships, and a focus on creating safe and inclusive workplaces for health care workers.

He previously held leadership positions at both UT Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tenn. Gunasekaran has significant background in information technology, having worked as an analyst for Gartner and IBM/Healthlink.

Gunasekaran earned his Master of Business Administration with honors at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he received the university’s Entrepreneurship Prize.

He joins UCSF Health during an ambitious period of growth, revitalization and transformation, which includes the construction of a new state-of-the-art hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center at Parnassus Heights that will serve the region’s fast-growing need for specialty medical care.

For more than a century, UCSF at Parnassus Heights has produced world-class research, trained generations of medical care providers and scientists, and served as a destination for complex medical care. UCSF Health is known worldwide for innovative medicine, advanced technology and compassionate care. It is the nation’s leader in both research and care in neurology and neurosurgery, and is among the top centers nationwide in cancer, diabetes, otolaryngology, geriatrics, ophthalmology, psychiatry and rheumatology.

At UCSF Health, Gunasekaran will earn a base salary of $1,850,000, which falls between the 75th and 90th percentile of salaries for chief executives of academic medical centers nationwide, consistent with the UC Regents’ policy on executive compensation. Further details can be found in the UC Regents’ approval package.

About UCSF Health: UCSF Health is recognized worldwide for its innovative patient care, reflecting the latest medical knowledge, advanced technologies and pioneering research. It includes the flagship UCSF Medical Center, which is ranked among the top 10 hospitals nationwide, as well as UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and the UCSF Faculty Practice. These hospitals serve as the academic medical center of the University of California, San Francisco, which is world-renowned for its graduate-level health sciences education and biomedical research. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. Visit http://www.ucsfhealth.org/.