UAB announces key Health System, Heersink School of Medicine leaders

Bulgarella named CEO of UAB Health System and UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance. Agarwall named dean of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine, senior vice president of Medicine and chair of the Health Services Foundation Board.

Inside DBDawn Bulgarella, CEO of the UAB Health System and CEO of the UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance.The University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine and the UAB Health System have announced key leadership appointments, effective immediately.  

At its Feb. 3 meeting, the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees unanimously named Dawn Bulgarella CEO of the UAB Health System and CEO of the UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance at the recommendation of UA System Chancellor Finis St. John in consultation with UAB President Ray Watts.  

Also on Feb. 3, Watts named Anupam Agarwal, M.D., dean of the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, senior vice president of Medicine and chair of the Health Services Foundation Board. Agarwal’s appointment follows a national search led by a 23-member search committee co-chaired by Department of Neurology Chair David Standaert, M.D., Ph.D., and Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Brian Burnett, Ph.D., with assistance from health care executive search firm AMN Leadership Solutions.

Bulgarella and Agarwal have filled these respective roles in an interim capacity since June 2022 and assume the permanent roles effective Feb. 3, 2023. Bulgarella first joined UAB in 1993 in the Health Services Foundation. Agarwal joined the School of Medicine in 2003 and also served as interim dean and SVP of Medicine in 2013 when Watts vacated the role to become president.

“Dawn and Anupam proved to be extremely effective throughout their long careers at UAB and in these critical interim roles,” Watts said. “They both clearly exhibited the knowledge, talent and leadership required to ensure UAB Medicine’s continued ascent as a national leader in health care. They have played an invaluable role in our unprecedented success, and the continuity of their leadership will propel us even further.”

Known to be an innovative thinker and mentor, Bulgarella serves on numerous health care boards throughout Alabama and is active in multiple professional and community associations.

Bulgarella is a certified public accountant — formerly with Ernst & Young — and her 35-year career is highlighted by accomplishments in academic medical center administration, financial management and strategic planning. She spent 15 years in operations before becoming the senior associate dean of Finance and Administration in the Heersink School of Medicine and ultimately the first president and CFO of the UAB Health System. Most recently, she served as president of the UAB Health System and CFO for the UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance.

“The UAB Health System is connecting more patients than ever to world-class care, and many opportunities remain for us to expand our reach and impact for our patients, UAB Medicine employees, community and state,” Bulgarella said. “I am grateful for the confidence of the UA System Board of Trustees, Chancellor St. John, President Watts and my valued colleagues for their confidence and support, and I look forward to continuing to build a sustainable health system that helps patients across Alabama.”

Agarwal served as executive vice dean from 2014-2022 and directed the Division of Nephrology from 2008-2021. He serves as the program director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases-funded O’Brien Center for Acute Kidney Injury Research, and his contributions providing critical insights regarding acute kidney injury have been recognized through honors including election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the American Clinical and Climatological Association. He served as president of the American Society of Nephrology.  

Inside Anupam Agarwal 20200925 007 0123Anupam Agarwal, M.D., dean of the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, senior vice president of Medicine and chair of the Health Services Foundation Board.“I look forward to continuing to work with and serve Heersink School of Medicine students, faculty and staff and to collaborate with university, Health System and University of Alabama System leaders, as well as our many partners and supporters,” Agarwal said. “I am proud to have been a part of this great institution’s unprecedented growth for nearly 20 years and take very seriously this great responsibility to build on our strong foundation.”

Chancellor St. John says UAB Medicine is fortunate to have retained key leaders like Watts, Bulgarella, Agarwal and others over a number of years. 

“We have every confidence in our UAB Medicine leadership team because they — along with their talented and dedicated teams who care deeply about their patients, trainees, and fellow faculty and staff — have delivered undeniable results year after year,” St. John said. “I congratulate Dawn and Anupam, who have both proved to be invaluable senior leaders. UAB Medicine provides world-class care to patients in every county in our state, educates future medical professionals at its internationally renowned academic medical center and is a treasured asset in Alabama.”

UAB Medicine welcomed almost 2 million patient visits last year and continues to expand its presence throughout the state to improve access to health care for Alabamians. Last year, the UAB Medicine enterprise generated $6.4 billion in statewide economic impact and supported or sustained more than 57,100 jobs in Alabama.

Powered in large part by Heersink School of Medicine activity, UAB brought in a record $715 million in research funding last year, an 89 percent increase from $379 million in 2013, powering life-improving and lifesaving discoveries.

The UAB Health System includes UAB Hospital, UAB Hospital-Highlands, the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation, UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, affiliate relationships with Medical West and Baptist Health Montgomery, and management relationships with Russell Medical, J. Paul Jones, Whitfield Regional, Northwest Regional Health and Regional Medical Center of Central Alabama. The system also includes Cooper Green Mercy Health Services and the UAB Health System/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance.

With more than 800 medical students, approximately 1,100 residents and fellows, and a faculty of more than 1,600, the Heersink School of Medicine is one of the premier academic medical centers in the United States. UAB is among the top 25 schools in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and is routinely listed among the best in various national rankings. As the educational arm of UAB Medicine, the school trains students and residents in a world-class setting; UAB Hospital is the eighth-largest hospital in the country.