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Emeritus UNM Professor Named to Lead Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Robert Valdez, PhDRobert “Bob” Otto Valdez, PhD, an emeritus professor of Family & Community Medicine and Economics at The University of New Mexico, has been appointed director of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

In 2008, Valdez was the founding executive director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at UNM. He previously had served as founding dean at the Drexel University School of Public Health.

From 1985 through 1999, he was professor of Health Services at the UCLA School of Public Health and directed the health services doctoral studies program and the MBA/MPH program in collaboration with the UCLA Anderson School of Business. He also served as associate director of the Chicano Studies Research Center.

Valdez received his PhD from the Pardee RAND Graduate School for Public Policy Studies, specializing in studies of health care financing and quality of medical care. At the University of Michigan School of Public Health, he was awarded a master’s degree in Health Policy & Administration. At Harvard University, Valdez studied in the Department of History and Science, specializing in Latin American history and biochemistry.

In his career, Valdez served as the lead child health researcher for the RAND Health Insurance Experiment. He has led numerous global health care initiatives with the Pan American Health Organization and the University of California.

Valdez served at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as deputy assistant secretary for health and simultaneously as director of Interagency Health Policy from 1993-1997. Prior to that, he served as a special senior advisor to the White House on health care reform. In 1998, he served as special senior advisor to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

His public service includes serving as chair of the New Mexico Community Foundation, chair of the American Hospital Association Foster G McGaw Prize Committee and chair of the Public Health Institute, which serves communities across California and internationally.

AHRQ, one of 12 agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with producing evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable and affordable.

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