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Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health

Thomas E. Novotny, MD, MPHThomas E. Novotny, MD, MPH
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Science and Medicine)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Thomas E. Novotny, MD, MPH, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Science and Medicine), served 23 years in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and more than a decade in academic medicine before returning to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2016.

While he was in the Commissioned Corps, Dr. Novotny served as a family physician in Northern California, as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer in Denver, as an epidemiologist in the Office on Smoking and Health, as CDC liaison to UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, and as CDC liaison to the World Bank in Washington, DC. He was also an editor and contributor to several Reports of the Surgeon General on Smoking and Health.

From 1999-2002, he served in the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, then known as the Office of Public Health and Science, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Refugee Health and Assistant Surgeon General, with the rank of Rear Admiral. 

After retiring from the Commissioned Corps in 2002, Dr. Novotny was Professor of Epidemiology at UC San Francisco (UCSF), where he directed international programs for health sciences students and conducted research in the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.  In 2009, he became co-director of the Joint PhD program in Global Health at San Diego State University and UC San Diego, where his research focused on global health diplomacy, tobacco and non-communicable diseases, the environmental consequences of tobacco use, and the co-existing epidemics of tobacco and infectious diseases.

Dr. Novotny is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was a member of the FDA’s Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee. He founded the non-profit Cigarette Butt Pollution Project in 2007, which advocates for environmental policies on tobacco use. He has published more than 180 scientific articles and co-edited four books, including 21st Century Health Diplomacy. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska in 2015.

Dr. Novotny, a graduate of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (MPH Epidemiology), is Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at San Diego State University and the UC San Diego.


Content last reviewed on February 8, 2016