The CDC Leaders
Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH
Assistant Surgeon General (retired) and Director
CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH is a former assistant surgeon general and the director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Khan is responsible for all of CDC's public health preparedness and response activities. OPHPR provides strategic direction, support, and coordination for these activities across CDC as well as with local, state, tribal, national, territorial, and international public health partners. OPHPR carries out its mission by emphasizing accountability through performance, progress through public health science and collaboration through partnerships.
Dr. Khan joined CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 1991 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer and over the past decades has led and responded to numerous high profile domestic and international public health emergencies, including hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, monkeypox, avian influenza, Rift Valley fever, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Asian Tsunami (2004), and the initial public health response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
In 1999, Dr. Khan served as one of the main architects of CDC's public health bioterrorism preparedness program, which upgraded local, state, and national public health systems to detect and rapidly respond to bioterrorism. As the deputy director of this novel program he led the creation of the critical agent list that was the basis for all biological terrorism preparedness, published the first national public health preparedness plan with key focus areas to improve local and state capacities, and initiated pilots of syndrome-based surveillance. These preparedness efforts were crucial in limiting the scope of the first anthrax attack during which he directed the CDC operational response in Washington, D.C. More recently he has focused on public health and methods to improve knowledge exchange, integration and delivery.
Dr. Khan's professional career has focused on emerging infectious diseases, bioterrorism and global health security. He maintains the Public Health Matters blog and has been personally engaged in guinea worm and polio eradication activities. While directing global infectious disease activities, he designed the laboratory component of CDC's field epidemiology and training program. He also helped design and implement the CDC component of the $1.2 billion, 5-year President’s Malaria Initiative. He co-founded a novel center at CDC to champion a one health strategy and ensure health security from a myriad of zoonotic, vector-borne, and food-borne infectious diseases.
Dr. Khan received his medical degree from Downstate Medical Center in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY and completed a joint residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor before joining CDC. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians. He has a masters of public health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, where he now holds an adjunct professor appointment and co-directs the emerging infections course. He has over 150 peer-reviewed publications, textbook chapters, editorials and brief communiqués. He has consulted extensively for multiple U.S. organizations including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, numerous ministries of health and the World Health Organization.
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