Alumna Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, will be the new national coordinator for health information technology, effective Jan. 13.

Karen DeSalvoDeSalvo, who earned a BA in biology and political science from Suffolk University in 1988, moves to the health care IT leadership position from New Orleans, where she has served as the city health commissioner and senior health policy adviser to Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

“Dr. DeSalvo has been at the forefront of efforts to modernize the New Orleans health care system,” wrote Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a note to her staff announcing the appointment.

“Throughout her career, Dr. DeSalvo has advocated increasing the use of health information technology to improve access to care, the quality of care, and overall population health outcomes,” wrote Sibelius.

GovernmentHealthIT calls her “an advocate for strengthening the U.S. public health infrastructure” in the article “10 things to know about Karen DeSalvo” .

The article quotes a 2012 DeSalvo talk, in which she said: “The traditional role of public health departments at any level of government is changing. It’s moving out of a direct-delivery service model and into a broader focus on the population’s health and public health about those highly important, winnable battles with chronic diseases and the causes thereof, like obesity and smoking, but also some of the challenges in health care access and disparities in care.”

DeSalvo was the College of Arts & Sciences graduate commencement speaker in 2010 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at that time. She also has served on the University's board of trustees.

Among other honors, she was named a 2013 Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine for transforming "New Orleans' health department from one of the worst in the country — focused on clinical care and responding to illness — into a national model that's focused on wellness and community health."