Dr. Leana Wen is the Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore. An emergency physician and patient and community advocate, she leads the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD), the oldest, continuously-operating health department in the United States, formed in 1793. BCHD is an agency with a $130 million annual budget and 1,000 employees committed to improving well-being and combatting disparities through education, policy/advocacy, and direct service delivery. BCHD’s wide-ranging responsibilities include maternal and child health, youth wellness, school health, senior services, animal control, restaurant inspections, emergency preparedness, STI/HIV treatment, and acute and chronic disease prevention.
Facing an unprecedented number of people dying from opioid overdose, Dr. Wen issued a blanket prescription for the opioid antidote, naloxone, to all 620,000 residents of Baltimore. Since 2015, this program has saved over 800 lives. In March 2016, Dr. Wen was invited by the White House to speak on a panel with President Obama about Baltimore’s efforts to address addiction as a public health crisis.
Under her direction, the Baltimore City Health Department leads the country in health innovations, including: B’More for Healthy Babies, a collective impact strategy resulting in a 38 percent reduction of infant mortality in just seven years; Vision for Baltimore, an initiative to provide glasses to every child who needs them; Safe Streets, a program to engage returning citizens and hospitals in treating gun violence as a contagious disease; and Healthy Baltimore 2020, a blueprint for health and well-being that enlists all sectors to achieve the ambitious goal of cutting disparities in half in ten years.
Before her appointment in January 2015, Dr. Wen was an attending physician and Director of Patient-Centered Care in the Department of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University (GWU). A professor of Emergency Medicine at the School of Medicine and of Health Policy at the School of Public Health, she co-directed GWU’s Residency Fellowship in Health Policy and co-led a new national collaboration on health policy and social mission with Kaiser Permanente. The author of the critically-acclaimed book When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests, Dr. Wen has given six popular TED and TEDMED talks on patient-centered care, public health leadership, and healthcare reform. Her TED talk on transparency in medicine has been viewed over 1.5 million times.
Dr. Wen received her medical training from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she was a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School. A Rhodes Scholar, she studied public policy and economic history at the University of Oxford. She has served as a consultant with the World Health Organization, Brookings Institution, and China Medical Board; an advisor to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the Lown Institute; and as national president of the American Medical Student Association and American Academy of Emergency Medicine-Resident & Student Association. In 2005, she was appointed the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services to serve on the Council on Graduate Medical Education, an advisory commission to Congress. In 2010, she served as Chair of the Young Professionals Council, a global leadership network of medical, nursing, and public health professionals.
In addition to her extensive scholarship in public health and patient safety, Dr. Wen has conducted international health systems research in Rwanda, D.R. Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, China, Singapore, Slovenia, and Denmark. She has been published over 100 articles including in The Lancet, JAMA and Health Affairs. She is regularly featured on National Public Radio, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today.
Dr. Wen has received recognition as The Daily Record’s 100 Most Influential Marylanders and Maryland’s Leading Women; Baltimore Business Journal’s “40 under 40,” The Baltimore Sun’s 25 Women to Watch, Modern Healthcare’s 12 Up-and-Comers, and Maryland American College of Emergency Physicians’ Public Servant of the Year. A Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and Academy of Medicine, she has been a Visiting Professor for Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and for Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 2016, Dr. Wen was honored to be the recipient of the American Public Health Association’s highest award for local public health work, the Milton and Ruth Roemer Award.