Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., serves as senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a nationally recognized educator, researcher and entrepreneur with major contributions in medicine and life sciences.
At Pitt, Dr. Shekhar leads all six health sciences schools that, for more than a century, have led their respective fields, propelling scientific discovery and clinical innovation that advance human health.
His responsibilities include shaping the careers of more than 6,000 faculty and staff members, as well as the academic success of approximately 5,000 students annually, all while supporting Pitt’s position as a top-ranked recipient of National Institutes of Health research dollars. He also works closely with UPMC, one of the largest academic medical centers in the nation, to ensure that health care delivery, biomedical research, and education continue to flourish.
Dr. Shekhar’s distinguished career spanned more than three decades at Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) and Indiana University Health before he joined the University of Pittsburgh in June 2020.
Dr. Shekhar’s areas of expertise include basic and clinical research on the effects of stress, stress-induced psychiatric and medical conditions, and clinical psychopharmacology. His laboratory has developed some of the best translational models for panic and related anxiety disorders. His work focuses on the role of brain abnormalities in stress and psychiatric disorders, and the discovery of new treatments.
His research has received support from a number of grants from the NIH, private foundations and commercial collaborations. He has published more than 200 original scientific papers in leading basic science and clinical journals.
Dr. Shekhar’s many leadership and career accomplishments include:
- Co-founding or leading five biotech companies, including Anagin, a startup company that is developing treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, neuropathic pain, depression, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Providing a new approach to treating schizophrenia—after demonstrating a novel mechanism of action, the first in more than 70 years—that is under development.
- Forming two commercial incubators—one for therapeutics and another for medical devices—that currently host more than 15 companies in various stages of commercialization.
- Serving as founding director of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute—a statewide institute within IUSM supported by an NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grant.
- Helping to deliver curriculum reform at IUSM (the largest medical school in the United States), including expanding opportunities for every medical student to engage in research and scholarly work.
- Growing IUSM’s research funding from the NIH by 73% from 2015 to 2020.
Dr. Shekhar is an elected member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation. He has also served on the Executive Committee of NIH’s CTSA Consortium; as a member of the National Institute of Mental Health Board of Scientific Advisors, Advisory Council for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the Cures Acceleration Network at NIH, Board of Advisors of the Clinical Research Center on the NIH campus; and as the founding president of the Association for Clinical Translational Sciences.
Dr. Shekhar, who was born in India, earned his medical degree at St. John’s Medical College and Ph.D. in neuroscience at Indiana University. He and his wife, Gina Laite, M.D., have two children.