GW Professor Named Baltimore City Health Commissioner

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake tapped Dr. Leana Wen to guide the city in addressing the root causes of substance abuse, as well as other public health issues
December 8, 2014

WASHINGTON (Dec. 8, 2014) — Leana Wen, M.D., director of patient-centered care research and assistant professor of emergency medicine at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), has been appointed commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

As health commissioner of the longest continuously operating health department in the U.S., Wen will oversee the management of acute communicable diseases, animal control, chronic disease prevention, emergency preparedness, food service inspections, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD), maternal-child health, school health, senior services, and youth violence issues, in addition to leading a campaign against substance abuse.

“I have loved teaching students and residents at GW and am inspired by wonderful colleagues every day,” said Wen. “I'm incredibly honored to join the Rawlings-Blake administration to tackle public health and health literacy as core social justice issues. From preventing diseases to ensuring healthy choices at school, home, and work, we will use innovative, evidence-based, and people-centered approaches to protect and advocate for the health of all Baltimoreans."

Wen is the founding director for “Who’s My Doctor?” – a campaign focused on increasing transparency in health care. As a patient advocate and community activist, she has given popular TED and TEDMED talks and is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, “When Doctor’s Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests.”

"Dr. Wen's tenacious passion for creating safer, more transparent health systems is exactly the kind of leadership I want guiding the Baltimore City Health Department," said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. "I am excited to have Leana join my administration, and I look forward to working with her to make Baltimore a city where all residents have the knowledge and access they need to realize healthier lives."

“We are thankful for all that Dr. Wen has accomplished while at GW and are proud that an emergency physician will be working to improve the health of all the citizens of Baltimore,” said Robert Shesser, M.D., MPH, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at SMHS. “Leana has been a tireless patient advocate and great role model for our students.”

Wen’s new appointment is effective Jan. 15.

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About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Founded in 1824, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities. www.smhs.gwu.edu