Robert “Bob” Otto Valdez, Ph.D., a health services researcher with prior experience at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been named director of the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. .

Prior to joining AHRQ, Valdez served as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Professor Emeritus of Family and Community Medicine and Economics at the University of New Mexico. He was the founding executive director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the university. He previously served as founding dean of the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia. From 1985 to 1999, he was Professor of Health Services at the UCLA School of Public Health and directed the health services doctoral program, MBA/MPH program in conjunction with the UCLA Anderson School of Business and served as Associate Director of Chicano Studies. Research Center.

From 1993 to 1997, Dr. Valdez served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health (Public Health Service) and concurrently as Director of Interagency Health Policy (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). Before joining DHHS in 1993, he served as the White House’s special senior adviser on health care reform. In 1998, he served as Special Senior Advisor to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

An AcademyHealth blog post notes that “Valdez comes to AHRQ during a time of great turmoil in our country as the pandemic has brought the healthcare system to breaking point, healthcare practitioners struggle with burnout professional burnout, misinformation and mistrust, pervasive disparities continue to impact communities of color, and policy makers seek answers to questions that have long plagued our health systems. how far we are as a country from our goals of access to high-quality health care for all, and study after study reveals the many facets of profound racial, ethnic, geographic and socio-economic disparities in There are far too few evidence-based assessments and understanding of the policies that have been adopted in response to the pandemic, or of the health system and ch supply elders that have been much less resilient to shocks that have led to ad hoc interventions. The challenges facing the AHRQ and our country are significant and urgent, and strong proactive leadership is essential. Dr. Valdez will provide that.

AcademyHealth also noted that AHRQ is the only agency that has legal permissions to generate health system research. “While AHRQ undertakes and funds essential research that transcends a single disease or hospital system, it also plays a key role in translating research findings into the biomedical and public health systems in a way that improves individual and community care. Health services and primary care research through AHRQ are essential pieces of the puzzle, as we identify what’s wrong, what needs to be right, and bridge the gap between developing new cures and the provision of high-value care to all.