President-elect Biden introduced members of his “health team” on December 8. Biden named California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his nominee to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, to direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Walensky’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation. Dr. Vivek Murthy was also announced as Biden’s choice to serve as Surgeon General, a position Dr. Murthy held during part of the Obama Administration.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, is currently the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. She received her MD from Johns Hopkins and her MPH from Harvard. According to the Mass General website, her research has focused “on HIV/AIDS policy and cost-effective strategies of HIV care in the U.S and in resource-limited settings.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was elected to the position in 2017. He was a Member of Congress from Los Angeles from 1993 to 2017. He served as Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus from 2013 to 2017. While in Congress, he served on the House Ways and Means Committee, where he was an active member of the Health Subcommittee. He received both his BA and JD from Stanford.
ASPPH issued a statement congratulating President-elect Biden on his newly announced health team. In the statement, ASPPH said “ASPPH looks forward to working with the Biden health team as it seeks to achieve our shared vision of improved health for everyone, everywhere.” ASPPH President and CEO Dr. Laura Magaña also wrote to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC Director-Designate, to congratulate her on her pending appointment. Dr. Magaña offered ASPPH’s assistance as Dr. Walensky transitions from Mass General to the CDC and provided her with a copy of ASPPH’s earlier letter to Biden, which details how presidential leadership can address the increasingly serious and complex public health issues facing the United States and the world.
Although many members of Biden’s team have been announced, several key positions are still not filled, including the leadership of the Department of Education, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary of Health.