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Alum Dr. Robert C. Robbins Receives Citizen Award

by Web on September 15, 2016

Dr. Robert C. Robbins, B.S. 1979, president and CEO of Texas Medical Center, has been named the 2016 Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones International Citizen of the Year by the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston.

Robbins, who directs what is the largest medical complex in the world, was honored during the 2016 Jesse H. Jones Award Gala on Sept. 13 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston.

The council annually recognizes an individual who—in the spirit of renowned Houston philanthropists Jesse and Mary Gibbs Jones—has made significant contributions to the city.

Jesse Jones (1874–1956), a businessman and entrepreneur, was largely responsible for securing funding for the Houston Ship Channel. He had a distinguished career in public service as director general of military relief for the American Red Cross in World War I, chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation during the Great Depression, and secretary of commerce during World War II. Jesse and Mary Gibbs Jones established in 1937 the Houston Endowment, which donates approximately $75 million each year to organizations that support and promote arts and culture, education, the environment, and health and human services.

Robbins was recognized for his vision, commitment, and innovations at Texas Medical Center that make life-changing discoveries possible.

“I’m humbled and very appreciative,” said Robbins, a Millsaps College trustee. “If you look at a list of the previous recipients, you’ll see former Secretary of State James A. Baker is among them. As I look at my CV and see other honors I’ve been awarded, I recognize this award named in honor of Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones dwarfs any other I’ve received.”

Robbins said his work at Texas Medical Center has focused on re-branding as well as promoting collaboration among the center’s member institutions. The center is composed of 21 hospitals, 13 support organizations, eight academic and research institutions, six nursing programs, three public health organizations, three medical schools, two universities, two pharmacy schools and a dental school.

Collaboration can lead to growth in grants and contracts, philanthropy, corporate and industry support, and technology transfer, he said, noting that it is important “to leverage your individual strengths into a collaborative venture so you can compete.”

An internationally recognized cardiac surgeon, Robbins has focused his clinical efforts on acquired cardiac diseases with a special expertise in the surgical treatment of congestive heart failure. Before joining Texas Medical Center, Robbins served as professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Robbins was elected to the Houston branch of the Dallas Federal Reserve Board in 2015. He was named to the board of directors of the Welch Foundation in 2014, which he currently serves as treasurer, and as the president of the American Heart Association Southwest Affiliate in 2016. He served on an independent Blue Ribbon Committee to evaluate the Veterans Affairs Health System in 2015.

He currently serves on the board of directors for TMC, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Houston Academy of Medicine, TMC Library, Houston Technology Center, Greater Houston United Way, and the Greater Houston Healthconnect Health Information Exchange.

His educational background includes a B.S. in chemistry from Millsaps, a medical degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine (1983), general surgical training at the University of Mississippi (1989), cardiothoracic training at Stanford University (1992), post-doctoral research at Columbia University and the National Institutes of Health, and congenital heart surgical fellowships at Emory University and Royal Children’s Hospital.