DHHS, NIH News  
National Center on Minority Health
and Health Disparities (NCMHD)

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

George Strait

NCMHD Announces Physician And Policy Maker As New Director Of Office Of Innovation And Program Coordination

Dr. Kyu Rhee, a primary care physician and member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee that assessed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) plan to eliminate health disparities, has been named director of the Office of Innovation and Program Coordination (OIPC) at the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) at the NIH. Dr. Rhee and his staff will seek, identify, and then support innovative ideas and programs to better serve the medically underserved and eliminate health disparities.

"We view OIPC as an important step forward in the development of NCMHD," said John Ruffin, Ph.D., director, NCMHD. "We are pleased to have Dr. Rhee's extensive clinical and policy making experience leading this effort."

Rhee's career has focused on treating poor patients and helping make public policy regarding ways to improve their care. He's been the medical director at community health centers and played a pivotal role at the IOM in reviewing whether the NIH's efforts to eliminate health disparities have been successful.

"Dr. Rhee has been on the front lines in the fight to eliminate health disparities," said Dr. Ruffin. "As NCMHD looks to support the best new research ideas in this area we feel Dr. Rhee will help identify what can work best."

"This new office at NCMHD can help bring about the kind of change suggested in the IOM report; Examining the Health Disparities Research Plan of the National Institutes of Health: Unfinished Business," said Dr. Rhee. "To be successful I feel our work must be transformational, trans-disciplinary, and translational."

Prior to coming to NCMHD, Rhee served five years as a National Health Service Corps scholar, primary care physician, and Medical Director of community health centers in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Md.  Most recently, Rhee served as the Chief Medical Officer of Baltimore Medical System, the largest network of community health centers and school based health sites serving the underserved in Baltimore.

Rhee is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and currently serves on: the Institute of Medicine Roundtables on Health Literacy and Health Disparities; the American Medical Association's Commission to End Health Disparities; and the editorial board of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

Rhee is board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. He did his residency and served as a Chief Resident in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. He received his M.D. from the University of Southern California and received a Masters degree in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

The NCMHD (http://www.ncmhd.nih.gov) is a component of the NIH. The NCMHD promotes minority health and leads, coordinates, supports and assesses the NIH effort to eliminate health disparities. The NCMHD programs focus on expanding the nation's ability to conduct research and to build a diverse culturally-competent research workforce to eliminate health disparities.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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