(Bloomberg News) Henry Hu, the law professor hired by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to lead a new unit responsible for spotting threats to financial markets, plans to leave the agency by January.

Hu is stepping down as director of the division of risk, strategy and financial innovation and will return to the University of Texas, the SEC today said in a statement. The SEC didn't name a replacement for Hu, who joined the agency 13 months ago.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro created the new unit in September 2009 after lawmakers criticized the agency for missing Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme and questioned its oversight of investment banks including Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which collapsed during the credit crisis in 2008. Schapiro said the unit would help break down communication barriers between SEC divisions and boost its understanding of complex financial products.

"I am deeply grateful to Henry for the great start that he has given the division, and for his valued judgment on a wide range of important substantive issues," Schapiro said in the statement.