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Karen DeSalvo, M.D., MPH


M.D., Medicine
Tulane University School of Medicine

Master of Public Health, Clinical Epidemiology
Harvard University School of Public Health


Residency, Internal Medicine
Tulane University School of Medicine

Fellowship, General Internal Medicine
Tulane University School of Medicine


Karen DeSalvo is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Internal Medicine at Dell Medical School. She is also Google’s inaugural chief health officer.

DeSalvo served as acting assistant secretary for health at the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Obama administration. Under her leadership, HHS set and met historic goals in payment reform, supported transformed models of care delivery, including in primary care, and changed the approach to information distribution in the health system.

She also served as the national coordinator for Health Information Technology, where she set national strategy and policy on health IT and championed interoperability in health settings. Prior to joining HHS, DeSalvo served as New Orleans Health Commissioner where she led a transformational effort to address health challenges, including violence, nutritional and physical fitness and mental health, and led the re-establishment of a community public hospital.

DeSalvo was previously professor of medicine and vice dean for community affairs and health policy at the Tulane School of Medicine. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and serves on the board of directors for Humana. She was inducted as a master of the American College of Physicians in 2019 and was awarded the Joseph F. Boyle Award for Distinguished Public Service in 2017. She earned her medical degree and Master of Public Health from Tulane University, and master’s degree in clinical epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health.

Professional Affiliations
  • Society of General Internal Medicine
    President Elect, 2017-present
  • American Public Health Association
    North American Vice-President, 2018-present
  • National Academy of Medicine
  • Association of Chiefs and Leaders of General Internal Medicine
  • American Medical Informatics Association
Awards & Honors
  • Master
    American College of Physicians, 2019
  • Modern Healthcare 50 Most Influential Physician Leaders and Executives
    2014, 2015, 2016
  • Modern Healthcare 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare
    2014, 2015, 2016
  • Federal Health IT Leadership Award
    Health Information Management Systems Society, 2016
  • Surgeon General's Medallion
    Surgeon General of The United States, 2016