Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Harvard University
Bayer Fellow in Health & Biotech - Class of Fall 2021
Howard K. Koh is the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School. As the faculty co-chair of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative and the inaugural chair of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health Initiative on Health and Homelessness, he advances leadership education to address the major public health challenges of our time. Previously at Harvard School of Public Health (2003-2009) he served as associate dean for Public Health Practice. In addition, from 1997-2003, he served as the Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health. Koh completed his BA and medical degree at Yale University and postgraduate training at Boston City Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
As the 14th Assistant Secretary for Health for the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), from 2009-2014, Koh oversaw 12 core public health offices, including the Office of the Surgeon General and the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, ten Regional Health Offices, and ten Presidential and Secretarial advisory committees. He served as senior public health advisor to the HHS Secretary and oversaw Healthy People 2020, the nation’s public health agenda; he promoted the disease-prevention and public-health dimensions of the Affordable Care Act; he advanced outreach to enroll underserved and minority populations; he helped to coordinate federal response during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and was the primary architect of landmark HHS strategic plans for tobacco control, health disparities (including Asian American and Pacific Islander health), and chronic hepatitis. Koh led implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy as well as initiatives in nutrition and physical activity, cancer control, adult immunization, environmental health and climate change, women’s health, adolescent health, behavioral health and substance use disorders, organ donation, and epilepsy.
Koh has earned over 70 awards and honors for interdisciplinary accomplishments in medicine and public health, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for National Service, the Distinguished Service Award from the American Cancer Society, the 2014 Sedgwick Memorial Medal from the American Public Health Association (the highest honor of the organization), and six honorary doctorate degrees. He has published over 300 articles in the medical and public health literature and has been recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the country’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare as well as one of the Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare. In 2019, HHS established the annual Dr. Howard K. Koh Award for Excellence in Leadership, sponsored by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council.