Commencement Distinguished Guests

Howard Koh

Howard Koh

Afternoon Keynote Speaker

Expertise

Dr. Howard K. Koh has served as assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since 2009.

Biosketch

Dr. Howard K. Koh has served as assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since 2009. 

The Office of Assistant Secretary for Health implements interdisciplinary programs relating to disease prevention, health promotion, the reduction of health disparities, women’s and minority health, adolescent health, HIV/AIDS and chronic infectious diseases, vaccine programs, fitness, sports and nutrition, bioethics, population affairs, blood supply, research integrity and human research protections. 

Koh previously served as the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and associate dean for Public Health Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. 

He served as commissioner of Public Health of Massachusetts from 1997 to 2003, overseeing advances in tobacco control, cancer screening, bioterrorism response after 9/11 and anthrax, health issues of the homeless, newborn screening, organ donation, suicide prevention and international public health partnerships. 

Koh graduated from Yale College and the Yale University School of Medicine. He completed postgraduate training at Boston City and Massachusetts General hospitals, serving as chief resident at both. He earned board certification in four medical fields: internal medicine, hematology, medical oncology, and dermatology, as well as a Master of Public Health degree from Boston University. 

A past chair of the Massachusetts Coalition for a Healthy Future, Koh received the 2012 Champion Award from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and was named by the New England Division of the American Cancer Society as “one of the most influential persons in the fight against tobacco during the last 25 years.”

Koh and his wife, Dr. Claudia Arrigg, are the proud parents of three children.