Office of Readiness and Response (ORR)
Henry Walke, MD, MPH, is the Director of the Office of Readiness and Response (ORR). In this role, he supports ORR’s three divisions and the Office of the Director to prepare for, respond to, and improve performance in domestic and global public health emergencies. ORR enhances CDC, state, and local health department preparedness and response capacity; ensures lifesaving research with select agents and toxins (including poliovirus) is conducted safely and securely; and develops scientific principles, tools, and the next generation of public health preparedness professionals and leaders.
Most recently, Dr. Walke served as incident manager of CDC’s COVID-19 response from July 2020 through September 2021, and as a chief CDC spokesperson. Under his leadership, the COVID-19 response published 8 scientific briefs and over 600 articles in the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” and the scientific literature. Over 9,000 CDC employees were involved in the response during his tenure there.
Prior to joining ORR, Dr. Walke served as director of the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases and before that he was chief of the Bacterial Special Pathogens Branch in the Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology. In those roles, Dr. Walke collaborated across CDC and with national and international partners to address preparedness and response issues for bioterrorism, emerging infections, and other infectious disease emergencies. In previous roles at CDC, Dr. Walke helped expand the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program, especially in Asia and the Americas. He joined CDC in 2001 as a medical officer based in Amman, Jordan, leading a Field Epidemiology Training Program and working with Jordan’s Ministry of Health to strengthen its infectious and non-communicable disease surveillance and reporting systems.
Dr. Walke has worked extensively on CDC’s anthrax preparedness efforts, co-chairing the HHS Anthrax Integrated Program Team and taking on co-chair duties for CDC’s Anthrax Coordination Unit, which supports the agency’s preparedness and response strategy for an anthrax incident. He also played prominent roles in multiple CDC emergency responses, including serving as the EOC’s incident manager or deputy incident manager for the Zika, Ebola, and COVID-19 responses and contributing to several hurricane responses (Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Florence), the anthrax Department of Defense incident, and a Burkholderia pseudomallei incident in nonhuman primates.
Dr. Walke earned undergraduate and medical degrees (with honors) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. He has been board-certified in family medicine and preventive medicine, has coauthored about 55 scientific publications, and has received numerous awards for public health achievements. His professional interests include preparedness and emergency response; surveillance and epidemiology; global health; and supporting the creation of diverse, inclusive work environments that facilitate cooperation and productivity.