"We do have a mandate and a mission to serve the entirety of the state, not just the 'other Georgia' outside of Atlanta," he said.
There are other reasons, too, such as the opportunities for research when partnering with universities and companies located in the capital city. Plus, there's all the patients in a metro area of 5 million.
He said Wednesday he and his staff will be drafting a strategy over the next 24 months. In the mean time, he's already been talking with some of his counterparts at Atlanta universities and some health providers that he declines to name now.
It's one reason he was in Atlanta Tuesday addressing the 400 attendees at the Georgia Public Health Association. He told them GHSU would make a good partner.
"We not only have the infrastructure for developing and understanding research, we have community connections and community relationships; we have the educational machinery to produce these (medical professionals), and we also understand the whole spectrum of health-care delivery and health-care maintenance," he said.
The university is already knee deep in public health, from its telemedicine facilities that support rural hospitals to providing care for the Department of Corrections. It even teaches a masters in public health.
Azziz said he plans to create an institute within the university to pull together everything done in house to provide one focal point and then recruit scientists to it.
By collaborating with the new Department of Public Health, the university can leverage what it already does with what the department does to cover more ground.
"When you take two units that have a lean budget and focus them, you are able to have those lean dollars go much further and have a much greater impact," he said.
The same thinking leads him to Atlanta. The universities and biomedical companies there can create similar synergy.
Dr. David Stephens, vice president for research in Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center, is holding out welcoming arms.
"We value biomedical research collaborations with universities in Georgia, particularly with our Georgia Research Alliance partners," he said. "It's beneficial for our research institutions to develop partnerships and create programs leading to discoveries that benefit patients as well as the state's economy."
Plus, Gerogia Health Sciences University can bring new some specialties to the big city so Atlanta residents are no longer tempted to fly out of state to the Mayo Clinic or other prestigious hospitals in search of top-notch care, he said.
Faculty may be based in Atlanta, or some may commute from Augusta periodically, and certain patients may head to Augusta for specific treatment.
"The basic result is patients here in Georgia will have a greater degree of options and a greater degree of access to specialization and a greater ability to have their care in Georgia," he said.
Azziz isn't scouting out Atlanta real estate yet, even though several brokers have called since he was on the cover of the current issue of the Atlanta Business Chronicle sharing his vision. He's merely moving beyond the next phase after the school recently created campuses in Athens, Rome, Albany, Savannah and Brunswick for training physicians.
"We are awakening from a period of introspection," he said.