Shawna D. (Smith) Nesbitt, M.D., M.S., is the John C. Vanatta III Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and a member of the hypertension section in the Division of Cardiology. She serves as the Medical Director of the Parkland Hypertension Clinic, as well as Vice President and Chief Institutional Opportunity Officer.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Dr. Nesbitt holds a bachelor's degree from Gannon University in Erie. She earned her medical degree at Hahnemann University College of Medicine in Philadelphia and completed internal medicine residency training at Allegheny General Hospital. She then received advanced training in hypertension through a fellowship program at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers. She also holds an M.S. in clinical research design and statistical analysis from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Prior to joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 2001, Dr. Nesbitt served as an Assistant Professor in the University of Michigan’s Department of Internal Medicine. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Society of Hypertension Specialist Program.

Her research interests include hypertension in African Americans, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia. Dr. Nesbitt has served as a leader and investigator in national clinical trials such as the TROPHY Study (Trial of Prevention Hypertension), as well as clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health to study hypertension.

She has published scores of scholarly articles, authored and co-authored a number of book chapters, and delivered many national and international invited lectures about these and related topics.

At UT Southwestern, she previously served as an Associate Dean for Student Affairs and has been active in education and curriculum planning, student retention and recognition. She is a mentor of Cary College and has taught widely on health equity and clinical care. She is the recipient of several awards recognizing her efforts in science and medicine.

Dr. Nesbitt is a fellow of both the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Hypertension and the American Society of Hypertension (ASH), as well as a past president of the International Society of Hypertension in Blacks. She currently serves on the board of the American Heart Association Council of Hypertension, and the chairperson of the American Heart Association Southwest Affiliate, North Texas Hypertension Collaborative. In her current role as Vice President and Chief Institutional Opportunity Officer, she leads efforts to create innovative opportunities in a supportive culture that fosters success for every individual and supports the mission of the institution.


Medical School
Hahnemann University College of Medicine (1988)
Allegheny General Hospital- Internship Program (1989), Internal Medicine
Allegheny General Hospital- Internship Program (1991), Internal Medicine
University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers (1992), Hypertension
Graduate School
University of Michigan, School of Public Health (1999)
Other Post Graduate Training
University of Michigan, School of Public Health (1999)

Research Interest

  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Hypertension
  • Hypertension in African-Americans
  • Oxidative Stress and Genetics of Prehypertension


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Genetic contribution to the variance in left ventricular mass: the Tecumseh offspring study.
Palatini P, Tikhonoff V, Krause L, Amerena J, Nesbitt S, et al. J Hypertens July 2002 19(7) 1217-1222
Can hypertension be prevented? The Danish Hypertension Prevention Project and the Trial of Prevention of Hypertension studies.
Skov K, Julius S, Nesbitt S, Mulvany MJ Curr Opin Cardiol July 2002 17(4) 380-384
Obesity: Putting Our Children at Risk.
Nesbitt, S Ethn & Dis Summer 2002 12(3) 320-321
Prehypertension: A Possible Target for Antihypertensive Medication.
Nesbitt SD, Julius S Curr Hypertens Reports 2000 2(4) 356-361

Honors & Awards

  • John C. Vanatta III, Professorship
    Department of Medicine, UT Southwestern Medical Center (2024)
  • Commitment & Dedication Service Award
    CV Roman Medical Society, Dallas Chapter of National Medical Association (2023)
  • John P. McGovern Annual Award Lecturer
    American Osler Society (2023)
  • Loehr Lifetime Achievement Award
    American Heart Association/Woven Heart Healthy Lives Committee (2023)
  • Gold Humanism Honor Society
    UT Southwestern (2021)
  • Women Who STEAM Dallas
    The Links Organization (2019)
  • Outstanding Physician-PA Partnership of the Year
    Texas Academy of Physician Assistants (2018)
  • Best Doctors in Dallas
    D Magazine (2017)
  • Best Doctors in Dallas
    D Magazine (2016)
  • Outstanding Individual in Science and Medicine
    Allstate Insurance (2004)
  • Sakofa Award
    Allstate Insurance (2004)
  • Fellow
    American Heart Association and the Council for High Blood Pressure Research (2002)
  • Professional Development Seminar
    Junior Women Faculty (2000)
  • Teaching Seminar on Cardiovascular Epidemiology
    American Heart Association (1994)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American College of Physicians
  • American Heart Association
  • American Society of Hypertension
  • Association of Black Cardiologists
  • International Society of Hypertension in Blacks