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Rochelle Walensky headshot

Rochelle Walensky, M.D., MPH

Dr. Rochelle Walensky served as the 19th director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2021 to 2023. She led the nation — and the world — through unprecedented times, navigating the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic and further facing the largest density of diverse infectious threats likely ever seen in this country. During her tenure, she participated in nearly 100 press conferences and countless media appearances and provided testimony at 17 congressional hearings. Dr. Walensky served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts until beginning her tenure at the CDC on Jan. 20, 2021. 

Prior to her role at the CDC, she was chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital from 2017 to 2021 and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School from 2012 to 2021. Dr. Walensky is an infectious disease clinician whose research career is guided by a belief that 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 focused these beliefs on mathematical model-based research to promote global access to HIV prevention, screening, and care. 

Her groundbreaking work and over 300 research publications have motivated changes to U.S. HIV testing and immigration policy; promoted expanded funding for HIV-related research, treatment and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); and led to policy revisions toward aggressive HIV screening — especially for the underserved — and earlier treatment in resource-limited international settings. In light of these contributions, Dr. Walensky has been an active member of policy discussions at the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the Department of Health and Human Services HIV Guidelines Committee and the National Institutes of Health Office of AIDS Research. Additionally, she serves on the board of trustees for the Doris Duke Foundation and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. 

Dr. Walensky received her Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry and molecular biology in 1991 from Washington University in St. Louis; her medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1995, and her Master of Public Health in clinical effectiveness from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2001. She completed her internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1995 to 1998 and her infectious disease fellowship at the Massachusetts General/Brigham and Women's Hospital combined program from 1998 to 2001. She is married to Loren Walensky, a physician-scientist and pediatric oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children's Hospital. The Walenskys have three sons ages 19, 22 and 24.