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To create a world without kidney diseases, the ASN Alliance for Kidney Health elevates care by educating and informing, driving breakthroughs and innovation, and advocating for policies that create transformative changes in kidney medicine throughout the world.

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William L. Henrich, MD, FASN

March 14, 2024

Dr. William L. Henrich, longtime president of UT Health San Antonio, led a transformation of the medical school into a top-ranked institution with programs in cancer treatment, obesity, diabetes, dementia and aging.

Dr. Henrich, 77, died early Thursday from complications related to a medical procedure, the school said. He had suffered from a form of blood cancer called myelodysplasia.

Dr. Rob Hromas, acting president, and James B. Milliken, chancellor, announced the passing of the school's president, who had held the position for 15 years, "with very heavy hearts."

"He was a visionary leader and a joy to work with, and his creativity, hard work and passion will always be examples for all of us. His laugh will ring through our corridors for many years. Among the many people we have known both professionally and personally, he gave the most of himself to all of us," the school said.

"This is a devastating loss to all of us, and we hope your fond memories of Dr. Henrich carry you through the days and years ahead."

Dr. Henrich died from unexpected complications after his second stem cell transplantation.

He successfully underwent a similar procedure 12 years earlier, using his son's stem cells. In 2013, Dr. Henrich returned to lead the school, presiding over "unprecedented growth experienced by UT Health San Antonio."

"He personally saw the results of biomedical research and the impact it had on him, his family and all those who loved and cared for him," the school said.

Dr. Henrich is survived by his wife, Mary, their two children and five grandchildren.

"Today, we mourn the loss of a beloved leader whose compassion and dedication to serving others inspired us all," Hromas said. "Bill's legacy of selflessness will continue to guide and uplift us in the days ahead as we work to build on his unyielding commitment to serve others and for the good of our community."

According to the school, Dr. Henrich led the institution through the COVID-19 pandemic and "the greatest period of expansion in UT Health San Antonio's 65-year history, accentuated by $1 billion in ongoing transformational construction projects that will change the city's health care and biomedical research landscape." They included the UT Health San Antonio Multispecialty and Research Hospital, the Center for Brain Health and UT Health at Kyle Seale Parkway — projects expected to come online this year and in 2025.

A board-certified nephrologist, Dr. Henrich was the author of the most widely used dialysis textbook in the world, the school said. He previously was dean of the health science center's Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine from 2006 until 2009, when the University of Texas System board of regents appointed him president.

"The sorrow so many of us feel over the loss of a good friend, generous colleague, and leader is comforted only by the love and gratitude we all have had for Bill Henrich and the extraordinary ways he touched so many lives," Milliken said. "His integrity, energy, intelligence, humor and compassion made him one of the finest leaders I have known. I learned from him constantly, and I'm grateful for his friendship over the years. The UT System and the state of Texas are so fortunate to have had Bill Henrich share his many talents and enrich our institutions and lives."

Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, director of the Malú and Carlos Alvarez Center for Transplantation, Hepatobiliary Surgery and Innovation at UT Health San Antonio, said Dr. Henrich "excelled in the mission of humanity."

"He made our health science center better and, in doing so, improved the quality of life for all citizens," Cigarroa said.

UT Health San Antonio is the largest academic research institution in South Texas and is a primary driver for San Antonio's $44.1 billion health care and biosciences sector, the school said, with an expense budget that has more than doubled during the Henrich presidency, from $668 million in 2009 to $1.46 billion today.

Dr. Larry Schlesinger, president and CEO of Texas Biomedical Research Institute, remembered Dr. Henrich not just as a professional but also as a friend who supported him through his medical challenges.

"We have lost a giant in our community and on the national stage," Schlesinger said. "Bill has been a driving force in the elevation in stature of our city's premier medical school — his leadership literally made lives better. So many at Texas Biomed know and have been inspired by Bill and his dedication to research and education. We will move forward with ways to honor his legacy as a friend and collaborator.

"On a personal level, this is an incredibly sad day for my wife, Judy, and I," Schlesinger continued. "Bill has been more than a colleague. He has been a genuine, caring friend to us since we moved to San Antonio. It was Bill who stayed in close contact with me throughout my own cancer ordeal, and I know that he has helped so many in similar situations. Consequently, I feel a tremendous loss."

Dr. Henrich served as the president of the American Society of Nephrology from 2006 to 2007. Throughout his involvement with ASN, Dr. Henrich made tremendous contributions to the advancement of kidney care. He will be missed. View obituary »