January 23, 2024—BRONX, NY—Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., who served as the 19th director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2021 to 2023, will deliver the commencement address at Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s graduation ceremony. The event will take place May 23, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. in David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
“Dr. Walensky’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, her commitment to evidence-based decision-making, and her advocacy for historically marginalized populations make her an excellent role model for our graduates,” said Yaron Tomer, M.D., the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean at Einstein and chief academic officer at Montefiore Medicine. “We’re pleased and honored that she has agreed to speak to our newly minted physicians and scientists and to share the insights she has gained through a career dedicated to the service of others.”
Dr. Walensky served on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts until beginning her tenure at the CDC on January 20, 2021. While at the CDC, Dr. Walensky led the nation—and the world—through unprecedented times, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious threats, including monkeypox. Under her leadership, the agency formally named racism and firearm violence public health issues and health equity became a CDC priority. She also served as chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital from 2017 to 2021 and was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School from 2001 to 2021. She is currently a Hauser Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a Menschel Fellow at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, and a senior fellow at Harvard Business School.
An infectious disease clinician and investigator, Dr. Walensky has guided her research career by a belief that the clinical and economic outcomes of medical decisions can be improved through the explicit articulation of choices, the systematic assembly of evidence, and the careful assessment of comparative costs and benefits. She has focused these beliefs on mathematical model-based research toward the promotion of global access to HIV prevention, screening, and treatment.
Dr. Walensky’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, her commitment to evidence-based decision-making, and her advocacy for historically marginalized populations make her an excellent role model for our graduates.
Dean Yaron Tomer, M.D.
Dr. Walensky’s work has motivated changes to U.S. HIV testing and immigration policy; promoted expanded funding for HIV-related research, treatment, and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); and led to policy revisions resulting in aggressive HIV screening—especially for the underserved—and earlier treatment in resource-limited international settings. In light of these contributions and over 300 research publications, Dr. Walensky has been an active member of policy discussions at the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS. She previously served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services panel on HIV treatment guidelines, and chair of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Dr. Walensky received her B.A. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1991, her M.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1995, and her M.P.H. in clinical effectiveness from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2001. She completed her internal medicine residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and her infectious disease fellowship at the Massachusetts General/Brigham and Women’s Hospital combined program.