Inaugural Dean Named at UT Austin’s Dell Medical School


Dr. S. Claiborne “Clay” Johnston has been named inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. He will lead the school in developing new approaches for teaching, patient care and research that build on a vision to transform both medical education and health care delivery.


Johnston is currently associate vice chancellor of research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He is a practicing neurologist who specializes in preventing and treating stroke.

He will begin March 1 at the Dell Medical School, which plans to welcome its first class of students in fall 2016.

“There is no greater opportunity for improving health care than by building a medical school from the ground up at a top institution like UT and in an entrepreneurial city like Austin,” Johnston said. “With a deeply committed community, it’s remarkable Austin hasn’t had a medical school until now. The opening of Dell Medical School gives the city the chance to approach medical education differently and more effectively than ever before.

“The current antiquated models of health care are failing us,” he said “If we start from scratch, we can design a medical school that empowers doctors to embrace new technologies, work collaboratively, perform cutting-edge research – and, ultimately, better serve patients while driving down costs.”

Johnston was welcomed to his new home by Jesús Garza, Ascension Seton president and chief executive officer, during Tuesday’s announcement.

“Dr. Johnson, you are joining a great team,” Garza said. “”Your arrival at the Dell Medical School will be a pivotal milestone in the compelling vision laid out two years ago by Sen. Kirk Watson to improve the health of this community.”

He noted that Ascension Seton will build a new teaching hospital close by the Dell Medical School and that Ascension Seton already hosts 16 medical residency programs and 243 residents – numbers that are expected to grow.

“Seton, with help from generous members of our community, will build a teaching hospital that is suited for the way medicine will be practiced in the future,” Garza said. “We also will continue our long-running support for training the clinicians of tomorrow.”

Johnston, 49, earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at Amherst College and a medical degree from Harvard University. He earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, and completed residency and fellowship training in neurology and stroke at UCSF.

In his 17 years on the faculty at UCSF, he has served as director of stroke services and professor of neurology and epidemiology. He also directs UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, where he has helped accelerate research to improve health care and secured partnerships with biotech companies, foundations and private funders.

He founded the Center for Healthcare Value to create new models to support innovation in health care delivery and has launched several new educational programs. Johnston has published extensively on stroke prevention and treatment and won multiple national honors for his work.

At UT Austin, he will serve as dean of the medical school and university vice president for medical affairs and will become a professor of neurology. He plans to continue treating patients as dean.