President Barack Obama announced March 25 his intent to nominate Howard Koh, the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), to be assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Koh is also the School’s associate dean for public health practice and director of the Division of Public Health Practice.
The U.S. assistant secretary for health is responsible for the major health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH), and is the leading health adviser to the secretary of HHS.
Koh has served as the principal investigator of multiple research grants related to community-based participatory research, cancer prevention, health disparities, tobacco control, and emergency preparedness. He is also director of the HSPH Center for Public Health Preparedness.
From 1997 to 2003, Koh served as commissioner of Public Health for the commonwealth of Massachusetts. In that post he emphasized the power of prevention for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which included four public health hospitals and a staff of more than 3,000 professionals.