GoMRI Mourns the Passing of Dr. Ciro V. Sumaya

Ciro V. Sumaya, M.D. and M.P.H.T.M. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M School of Public Health.

Ciro V. Sumaya, M.D. and M.P.H.T.M. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M School of Public Health.

It is with deep sadness that the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) shares that Dr. Ciro V. Sumaya passed away on Sunday December 1, 2019. Dr. Sumaya, who served on the GoMRI Research Board since the program’s inception, was a medical doctor who specialized in pediatric infectious diseases. He was also a Professor of Health Policy and Management and the Founding Dean of the School of Rural Public Health at Texas A&M University Health Science Center.

Dr. Sumaya’s life represented his belief that a physician equipped with public health skills and principles can protect the health of the masses, and a favorite quote of his was “The health of one is admirable; the health of all, supreme.”

Health care reform was important to Dr. Sumaya who served on the Presidential Task Force on Health Care Reform in Washington, DC. He was also a Presidential appointee at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he served as Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, becoming the first Hispanic appointed to head a major federal public health service agency. He subsequently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health to lead the interagency initiative on the Future of Academic Health Centers. He also served on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Sumaya was one of the six Founding Scholars in Academic Administration and Health Policy of the Association of Academic Health Centers and an Executive Committee Member of the Surgeon General’s National Hispanic Health Initiative. He served on biomedical and policy advisory committees sponsored by the Institute of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and Federal Drug Administration, among others.

Before federal service, Dr. Sumaya was Associate Medical Dean at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he initiated the expansion of continuing medical education programs for health professionals in south Texas and other parts of the state. His efforts led to establishing the medical school and health science center for community and social needs, including the federally-funded Area Health Education Center of South Texas. He also held an academic position at the Pediatric Infectious Disease Division, University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine.

Dr. Sumaya published more than 109 professional journal articles and book chapters on pediatric viral infections and an additional 36 publications on national public health and policy issues. He received numerous honors and awards, including the Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni Award from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College; Distinguished Fellow of the Public Health Advisory Board in Washington, DC; the Juan Carlos Finlay Award from the U.S. Public Health Service; and was selected to the 2009 101 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S.

Dr. Sumaya received a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Medicine degree from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Following a pediatric residency at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he completed a postgraduate fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Tulane University School of Medicine and earned a Master in Public Health and Tropical Medicine degree from Tulane University School of Public Health.

The GoMRI science community extends sincere sympathy to Dr. Sumaya’s family, friends, and colleagues.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Ciro V. Sumaya Endowment Fund at the Texas A&M School of Public Health at http://give.am/CiroSumaya. Memorial contributions may be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, Inc. 912 Killian Hill Road S.W., Lilburn, GA 30047 or at https://www.lbda.org/.

By Nilde Maggie Dannreuther. Contact maggied@ngi.msstate.edu for questions or comments.


The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative or GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies.  An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research.  All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available.  The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP.  For more information, visit https://gulfresearchinitiative.org/

© Copyright 2010-2018 Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) – All Rights Reserved. Redistribution is encouraged with acknowledgement to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). Please credit images and/or videos as done in each article. Questions? Contact web-content editor Nilde “Maggie” Dannreuther, Northern Gulf Institute, Mississippi State University (maggied@ngi.msstate.edu).