Published: February 1, 2023

Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S.

Miami CTSI Director and MPI Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S.

The University of Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) mourns the passing of its director and multi-principal investigator Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., FAHA, who was a brilliant researcher, dedicated clinician, and transformational leader.

He died peacefully at his home in New York following a courageous battle with glioblastoma.

Dr. Sacco was professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, senior associate dean for clinical and translational science, and an internationally renowned stroke neurologist.

Part of the Miami CTSI since its inception in 2012, Dr. Sacco became its director and principal investigator in 2015, ensuring a steadfast commitment to furthering its mission of translating research that addresses health equity and improves the health of our diverse communities. He also served on the NCATS-CTSA Steering Committee (2020-2022).

“I feel so lucky to have worked closely with Ralph over so many years. He was the most approachable giant that I have ever known, and I have benefitted tremendously from his guidance, vision, and commitment to advancing health equity in translational science,” said Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., MPH, who along with Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D, MPH, joined the Miami CTSI’s leadership team in December 2021 as MPIs alongside Dr. Sacco.

Under his tenure, the Miami CTSI expanded its impact to advance excellence in clinical and translational research by supporting cutting-edge science, broadening its research data networks, establishing new collaborations, developing training initiatives that emphasized mentoring and team science, and launching programs to facilitate participant recruitment into health research studies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a uniquely challenging and important time for translational science, Dr. Sacco worked to ensure research could be quickly activated to address COVID-19, and that we also didn’t lose sight of the other critically important science being conducted.

Miami CTSI Executive Directors, Sheela Dominguez and Daru Ransford, appreciated that he always recognized the hard work of the Miami CTSI team. He was deeply invested in the team’s wellbeing and morale, and fondly remember his calls while he drove home from work to check on everyone. They both conveyed, “He was our mentor, friend and most importantly, our family. Arguably one of the most accomplished physician scientists, Dr. Sacco will forever be remembered as a remarkable leader who was in a league of his own.”

Members of the Miami CTSI leadership team, its program directors and staff alike remember him as someone who brought people together and recognized that our accomplishments were a direct result of the collaborative work of many dedicated people across our Hub.

“Ralph was the most intelligent, hardworking, well-organized, and compassionate person I have ever met. He recognized and championed the value of team science in research. His contribution to the scientific community, CTSI, University of Miami, and the community are unmeasurable. All will dearly miss him, as we all loved him,” said Miami CTSI associate director Dushyantha T. Jayaweera, M.D.

“I will truly miss Ralph Sacco for many reasons including our discussions on research, leadership and other stimulating topics. I had the pleasure to work with Ralph over the years on our neuroscience programs and especially enjoyed our interactions with the Miami CTSI leadership. During these sessions, I learned to appreciate Ralph’s focus on getting the job done at the highest level of excellence and drive to advance research and training. Ralph received many well deserved national and international awards and made a major impact on numerous University of Miami programs. He will be solely missed by his colleagues and friends but has left us with many lasting memories,” said Miami CTSI associate director W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D.

“Having worked with Ralph for over 15 years in numerous capacities, I can tell you he was the driving force in helping propel our CTSI to greatness. We hope to carry on his vision and passion, not only for translational science, but his lifelong commitment to health equity and bringing the benefits of health discoveries to all people. Through the CTSI, we hope to continue that goal, and we will work tirelessly to make sure his legacy is accomplished,” said Dr. Carrasquillo.

More Tributes Honoring Dr. Sacco




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