College Alumna Named New Orleans' First Health Commissioner

Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo


New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has named Suffolk University alumna and honorary degree recipient Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo, as the Crescent City’s new health commissioner, the Times-Picayune reported.

DeSalvo, vice dean and a professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, will also serve as Landrieu’s senior advisor for health policy.

DeSalvo has been a leader in health care reform efforts in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina. Her research has focused on improving access to quality community health care, particularly for vulnerable populations. Her work has included the creation of national award-winning models of neighborhood-based care for low income and uninsured populations in a city that previously had none. Tulane School of Medicine described DeSalvo as “a driving force in helping Tulane University create a thriving network of nationally recognized community health centers.”

Her new responsibilities will include coordinating a citywide healthcare master plan. DeSalvo will take a one-year leave from Tulane.

DeSalvo is a 1988 graduate of Suffolk University and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Political Science. She went on to receive her Medical Doctorate and Masters of Public Health simultaneously from Tulane University Health Sciences Center. She received a Masters in Clinical Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2002.

Last May, Suffolk University awarded DeSalvo an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. She addressed graduate students at the College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremonies.

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