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September 12, 2019

19th Surgeon General of the United States To Join Bloomberg School as Distinguished Policy Scholar

Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, the 19th U.S. Surgeon General and previous Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, will join the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as the Distinguished Policy Scholar, beginning in September 2019.

Murthy served as U.S. Surgeon General under President Barack Obama, focusing his tenure on pressing public health issues, from the opioid epidemic and e-cigarettes to vaccine-preventable illness and emotional well-being. He released the first Surgeon General’s Report on substance use disorders, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, which summarized the scientific evidence and called upon elected officials, health care providers and other stakeholders to take action to expand access to lifesaving public health strategies to curb the opioid crisis. Murthy also released the first federal report on e-cigarettes and youth, which laid out strategies for families, communities, and policymakers to protect young people from the harms of e-cigarette use.

The Distinguished Policy Scholar program, housed in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, was created to bring national policy leaders to campus to collaborate with faculty and students on pressing public health challenges. During a year-long residence, the Distinguished Policy Scholar takes part in wide-ranging research, education, and public health practice activities in partnership with faculty.

“We are fortunate to have this unique opportunity to work with Dr. Murthy,” says Colleen Barry, PhD, MPP, Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management. “Our faculty and students will greatly benefit from his expertise on urgent public health challenges facing our country, including the addiction and overdose crisis, chronic stress and its consequences for mental health and well-being, and the high rates of violence in our communities. Dr. Murthy is a highly innovative thinker who embodies the spirit of public health in action.”

Murthy follows Michael Botticelli, MEd, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who served as Distinguished Policy Scholar at the Bloomberg School in 2018. Other former Distinguished Policy Scholars include former Congressman Henry Waxman, JD, of California, and former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, JD, of Mississippi.

Throughout his career, Murthy has cultivated innovative partnerships with organizations like the Veterans Health Administration, Sesame Street and Fitbit to bring attention to urgent public health issues. As the Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, he focused his attention on responses to the Ebola and Zika outbreaks, the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, and natural disasters. Most recently, he has concentrated his efforts on reducing stigma around mental illness and promoting emotional well-being and healthy habits.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the distinguished faculty, staff, and students at the Bloomberg School of Public Health as a Distinguished Policy Scholar,” said Murthy. “We share a commitment to addressing critical public health issues like the addiction crisis in America, and I am eager to work together to advance thoughtful, effective solutions.”

Murthy has more than two decades of experience working in health care, both in the U.S. and abroad. His focus on prevention and education inspired him to co-found several nonprofits—VISIONS, a peer-to-peer HIV/AIDS education program in India and the U.S., and Swasthya, an organization that focuses on women’s health issues in rural India. Murthy also co-founded TrialNetworks, a company that seeks to improve worldwide research collaborations, and Doctors for America, a national grassroots organization of physicians dedicated to advancing high quality and affordable health care. He received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, and MD and MBA degrees from Yale. Murthy’s book, Together, about the important role of community and social connection in countering the epidemic of loneliness, will be published by HarperCollins in spring 2020.

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Media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Caitlin Hoffman at 410-955-7624 or choffman@jhu.edu and Barbara Benham at 410-614-6029 or bbenham1@jhu.edu.