He was named the 14th president of the university on July 1, 2014, following the retirement of Mary Sue Coleman. His initial contract with the University of Michigan lasts five years, expiring in 2019. In addition to his presidency, he holds a professorship of microbiology and immunology and a professorship of internal medicine within the University of Michigan Health System as well as a professorship of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology in the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Schlissel was born in Brooklyn, New New York
He graduated with a Bachelor in Biochemical Sciences from Princeton University in 1979. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in Physiological Chemistry from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1986 through the Medical Scientist Training Program.
His residency in Internal Medicine was conducted at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1986-1988. His postdoctoral research fellowship was under David Baltimore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Whitehead Institute.
Schlissel became a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1991.
He moved to the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at University of California Berkeley in 1999 as an associate professor, becoming a full professor in 2002. At University of California Berkeley he served as Dean of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters & Science from 2008 to 2011. In 2011 he became provost at Brown University.
The beginning of his career as president of the University of Michigan has involved controversy surrounding the athletics department and a federal investigation into the Brendan Gibbons sexual assault case.
Schlissel is married to Monica Schwebs, an environmental and energy lawyer, and has four adult children.