Campus Life

Pettigrew Aspires To Bold Initiatives In A&M System

The founding dean of the School of Engineering Medicine recently stepped into his new role as Vice Chancellor for Health and Strategic Initiatives.
By Mike Reilly, Texas A&M University System Marketing & Communications June 7, 2024

Portrait of Roderic Pettigrew
Roderic Pettigrew began his new role as Vice Chancellor for Strategic Health Initiatives on June 1.

Texas A&M School of Engineering Medicine


Six years ago, Dr. Roderic Pettigrew came to Texas A&M University to start and lead a one-of-a-kind School of Engineering Medicine (EnMed).

Today there is nowhere else in the world where students earn a medical degree and an engineering master’s degree in the same four years while also training as inventors of innovative solutions to common health care problems.

EnMed just graduated its second class of pioneer physicianeers. A year ago, five Nobel Laureates, a co-inventor of the internet and the MIT President Emerita participated in the inaugural EnMed graduation, a testament to the stature of the groundbreaking program and its inaugural dean.

So what will Pettigrew do for an encore?

Beginning this week, he looks for new ways to break ground throughout the Texas A&M System as Vice Chancellor for Health and Strategic Initiatives.

Pettigrew’s role now is to identify areas in science, engineering and elsewhere to help build more programs of national stature that address global needs. He seeks to leverage the considerable talent and resources of the Texas A&M System to have its biggest impact on humankind.

“What are the pressing challenges?” Pettigrew asked. “Where do our strengths line up to meet these pressing challenges?”

“My overall goal is to identify areas of opportunity for Texas A&M and the System where we can develop centers of excellence that improve the health and wellbeing of this planet,” he said, adding: “We will go wherever opportunity leads.”

Chancellor John Sharp suggested the role for Pettigrew as a way for the renowned scholar to broaden his impact.

Sharp, the Board of Regents, and flagship leaders have started programs and built-up key fields of research by spotting opportunities and recruiting elite faculty to take charge of them. Over the past 12 years, the efforts have led to a five-fold boost in faculty who are national leaders in science and engineering as evidenced by membership in the elite National Academies in engineering, science, and medicine.

The strong start of EnMed illustrates what the Chancellor hopes to see more of throughout the System.

“Excellent programs need excellent faculty,” Sharp said. “Dr. Pettigrew will help supercharge that effort through the focus on centers of excellence.”

A Ph.D. and an MD, Pettigrew is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is recipient of the highest honor bestowed by the National Science Board through the National Science Foundation, the Vannevar Bush Award.

Before joining Texas A&M, Pettigrew served 15 years as the founding director for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is credited with establishing NIBIB as the NIH’s signature institute for emerging biomedical technologies and bioengineering based innovation. He is known internationally for pioneering work starting in the 1980s that helped launch four-dimensional imaging of the cardiovascular system with magnetic resonance (MRI) technology.

“Medicine is a big thing but not the only big thing,” Pettigrew said. “Our next initiative could have to do with a broad range of important problems, challenges, and opportunities. These could involve data science and the advance of digital data with lifechanging information that can be extracted through AI, or next generation tunable materials for applications in energy, climate, and the environment. It could have to do with global populations and improving access to healthcare, or smart architecture and the future of the built environment to move more of health from the hospitals to our homes, or it could be a quality-of-life challenge that involves a combination of disciplines including the social and behavioral sciences.”

Pettigrew will stay on as EnMed dean until an interim is named in the fall. He will remain in Houston, as the TAMUS point-person in the Texas Medical Center (TMC), and keep a hand in the development and a forward-looking expansion of EnMed, a collaboration with Houston Methodist Hospital at the TMC. Pettigrew also will retain his faculty appointment as the Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry and a researcher supported by the Governor’s University Research Initiative (GURI) grant program.

Media contact: Laylan Copelin, Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications, 979-458-6425 or 512-289-2782,

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