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Remembering Dr. Ralph L. Sacco

Renowned neurologist’s groundbreaking research focused on stroke and cardiovascular and brain health
Dr. Ralph Sacco

Dr. Sacco was a leader in the study of stroke risk and treatment


alph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., professor and chair of the Department of Neurology and a highly respected and beloved member of the UHealth and Miller School community, passed away on January 17 from a glioblastoma. Dr. Sacco was a dedicated, nationally and internationally renowned stroke neurologist whose leadership helped establish the Miller School’s reputation as a hub of excellence in research, education, and treatment of stroke and cardiovascular and brain health.

Besides being chair of the Department of Neurology, he held the positions of the Olemberg Family Chair in Neurological Disorders; professor of neurology, public health sciences, human genetics, and neurosurgery; chief of neurology at Jackson Memorial Hospital; and executive director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. He was also director and multi-principal investigator of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute and senior associate dean for clinical and translational science.

Advancing the Understanding of Stroke

Dr. Sacco’s outstanding achievements and contributions in research, teaching and mentorship, and patient care made a lasting impact on health care in South Florida, the nation, and the world. His work was integral to advancements in overall brain health, stroke, and cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment, and helped to advance health equity, create more targeted stroke prevention programs, improve outcomes, and enhance quality of life for stroke patients. Dr. Sacco’s collaborative research advanced the understanding of stroke and cardiovascular and brain health, and helped elucidate the impact of modifiable behaviors, such as alcohol consumption and physical activity, on stroke risk.

Dr. Sacco’s career was marked by some of the highest accolades and awards in the medical field, including first-ever leadership roles that demonstrated his vast influence. He was an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He served as president of the American Academy of Neurology from 2017 to 2019 and was the first neurologist to serve as president of the American Heart Association, from 2010 to 2011. He was the only physician to have served as president of both organizations. He published more than 1,000 peer-reviewed articles, served on the editorial boards of several neurological and cardiovascular journals, and was editor-in-chief of the American Heart Association’s peer-reviewed scientific journal Stroke.

“Dr. Ralph Sacco’s work helped to cement the Miller School’s reputation and enhance Miami’s world-class standing in stroke and cardiovascular and brain health,” said Henri R. Ford, M.D, M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School. “He was a gifted researcher, a committed teacher and mentor, and an irreplaceable friend who was part of the nucleus of our institution. He will be sorely missed.”