Who: Dr. Richard Besser, 57
New role: President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He will succeed
Dr. Riza Lavizzo-Mourey, who served in the role for 14 years. He is expected to take over in April.
Background: Besser was ABC News' chief health and medical editor for the past eight years.
Before that, he was head of the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he also served as acting agency director for the first half of 2009.
Changing the culture: “The role for a group like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to use science, to use analysis and to provide evidence-based information to be a strong voice for health,” Besser said. The $10 billion foundation aims to create a “culture of health” in the U.S. so that everyone, regardless of socio-economic status, can be healthy. “This is a really critical time for health in America,” Besser said. “It's important to have groups like the foundation as nonpartisan voices.”
Focus on communication: Besser hopes to draw on his media experience in his new role “I'm looking at ways to bring more communication to the world of public health,” he said. “Media and communication can open people up to looking at a problem in a new way.”