Santa Ono officially stepped into his role as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia on August 15, 2016. As a professor of medicine and biology, Ono has worked at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University College London, and Emory University. Last year he was inducted by Johns Hopkins into its Society of Scholars, which honours former faculty who have gained distinction in their fields. Ono's research encompasses the immune system, eye inflammation, and age-related macular degeneration – a leading cause of blindness. He and his research team are working to develop a blood test that could identify biomarkers in people who are progressing towards the disease.
As a university administrator, Ono is also known for his vision beyond the laboratory. He was the first Asian-American president of the University of Cincinnati when he was appointed in 2012. Previously, he served as the University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Prior to his recruitment to the University of Cincinnati, Ono was Senior Vice Provost and Deputy to the Provost at Emory University. Ono is deeply committed to diversity, and his achievements were recently recognized by the American Council on Education with an award that honors individuals who have demonstrated leadership and commitment on a national level to the advancement of racial and ethnic minorities in higher education. Inside Higher Education named him America's most notable university president in 2015.