Stefano Bertozzi, AIDS expert, named new public health dean

Dr. Stefano Bertozzi, a prominent global health scientist, AIDS expert and health economist, has been named dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, effective Sept.1, 2013.

Dr. Stefano Bertozzi (Photo courtesy of the Gates Foundation)

Bertozzi, 53, is currently a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he has directed the HIV and tuberculosis programs and led a team that manages the foundation’s portfolio of grants in HIV vaccine development, biomedical prevention research, diagnostics, and strategies for introduction and scaling-up of interventions. He oversaw the development of a new initiative in efficiency and effectiveness, and represented the private foundation’s constituency on the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He also serves on the scientific advisory boards for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the National Institute of Health’s Office of AIDS Research and the World Health Organization.

“Stefano Bertozzi’s extensive experience confronting and engaging complex global health challenges, combined with his expert academic credentials, make him uniquely suited to lead UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who officially began his tenure on June 3. “His passion, commitment and accomplishments will help ensure that faculty, students and staff have the leadership they need. I look forward to working with him as the school becomes ever more central to the mission of UC Berkeley in the years ahead.”

Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Bertozzi worked at the Mexican National Institute of Public Health as director of its Center for Evaluation Research and Surveys. He led economics and statistics teams that conducted impact evaluations of large health and social programs in Mexico, as well as in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He also led the institute’s AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Infections research group.

Bertozzi is considered a bold choice to lead the school through a period of great change in public and global health.

“During our nationwide search for the new dean, Dr. Bertozzi emerged early as a clear leader,” said George Breslauer, UC Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “We were impressed with his breadth of experience – from teaching to research to program evaluation – as well as his progressive ideas about the role higher education can play in the evolving field of public health. I am confident that he will prove to be a transformative dean.”

Bertozzi has also held positions with UNAIDS and the World Bank. His research has covered a diverse range of projects in health economics and policy, focusing on the economic aspects of HIV/AIDS and on the health impact of large social programs.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in health policy and management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his medical degree at UC San Diego, and trained in internal medicine at UC San Francisco. Bertozzi has lived and worked in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and speaks English, French, Spanish and Italian.

“This is an extraordinary time,” said Bertozzi. “The world of public health, both in the U.S. and globally, is changing dramatically because of new tools and technologies. We are interconnected like we’ve never been before. It’s hard to think of a school of public health that’s more centrally located than UC Berkeley’s when it comes to innovation. We are well positioned to take advantage of the Bay Area’s leadership in transformations that are happening in technology, as well as those that are happening in the biomedical sciences.”

Bertozzi said he is eager to build upon the School of Public Health’s existing strengths to have an even greater impact on the future. One of those strengths, he said, is the school’s many collaborations with other schools and departments on the UC Berkeley campus as well as with UCSF. As dean, Bertozzi said he hopes to develop those further.

“The future of public health will be even more multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary than it is today,” he said. Bertozzi also noted with excitement the growing enthusiasm nationally among undergraduate students for studying public health and global health.

As the School of Public Health’s 10th dean, Bertozzi succeeds Professor Stephen Shortell, who served as public health dean for 11 years and is the Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management. Under Shortell’s leadership, the school developed an undergraduate major in public health and launched a largely online master of public health degree program, the first of its kind at UC Berkeley. Shortell will return to campus full time in in January 2014 after a one-semester sabbatical.