News Release: School of Public Health

May 5,  2011

Rear Admiral Ali Khan to Deliver Emory School of Public Health Commencement Address

News Article ImageDr. Ali Khan, RADM, USPHS

ATLANTA - The CDC’s public health emergency response and preparedness director, Rear Admiral Ali Khan, MD, MPH will deliver the keynote address at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health’s diploma ceremony on May 9, 2011.

Khan is an Assistant Surgeon General for the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and the Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

He joined CDC and the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS in 1991 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer and over the past two 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, and the initial public health response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  

In 1999, Khan served as one of the main architects of CDC′s public health bioterrorism preparedness program that upgraded local, state, and national public health systems to detect and rapidly respond to bioterrorism. As deputy director of this novel program he led the creation of the critical agent list, which 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 Khan directed the CDC operational response in Washington, D.C.

"Dr. Khan is a graduate of the Rollins School of Public Health, our CDC neighbor, and he is a vital component in the way our nation prepares for public health emergencies and responds to public health threats and outbreaks,” says James W. Curran, MD, MPH, dean of Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

"When a disaster occurs, our country is better prepared to save lives and reduce suffering thanks in part to the extraordinary leadership of Dr. Khan.  We are excited to have him impart words of wisdom to our graduates,” says Curran.

Khan′s professional career has focused on emerging infectious diseases, bioterrorism, and global health security. He maintains CDC’s Public Health Matters blog and has personally been 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.  Khan 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.

“Addressing today’s public health challenges and preparing for tomorrow’s public health threats requires continuous and coordinated efforts that involve every level of government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and individuals,” says Khan. “The CDC plays a pivotal role in these efforts and in the near future, so will the graduates of the Rollins School of Public Health. It is an honor to see Rollins graduates off as they enter careers to protect our health and promote a safer and better prepared world.”

Khan received his MD from Downstate Medical Center in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York 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 more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, textbook chapters, editorials, and brief communiqués. He has consulted extensively for multiple organizations including NASA, Ministries of Health, and the World Health Organization.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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