Rutgers names former New Jersey health commissioner to oversee population health management

Mary O’Dowd joins as the academic medical center is embarking on a wide-ranging population health initiative to integrate specialities with more traditional fields.
Rutgers population health O'Dowd

Mary O’Dowd, New Jersey’s former health commissioner has joined Rutgers University as executive director for health systems and population health management.

She is making the move just as Rutgers Health is developing an academic healthcare provider organization to integrate a full range of health-related specialties – including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and clinical psychology – in addition to more traditional fields, such as neurology, surgery, cardiology and oncology.

O’Dowd, a biology major at Rutgers University’s Douglass College, earned a master’s degree in public health at Columbia University. 

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She led the 1,200-member New Jersey State Department of Health from 2011 to 2015 after previously serving as deputy commissioner. O’Dowd is also a member of the board of directors of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

“My experiences allow me to relate well to Rutgers’ desire to make population health a priority, improve the patient experience and develop a viable business case for prevention and wellness,” O’Dowd said in a statement.

In her new role, O’Dowd will work with Vicente Gracias, senior vice chancellor for clinical affairs for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

O’Dowd, who developed a relationship with Rutgers' School of Public Health while serving as commissioner, said three of her team’s many achievements stand out: The work her team did to improve the health of newborns by increasing breastfeeding rates, expanding the hospital-based screening program for previously undetected illnesses among newborns, and implementing a program that empowers individuals to effectively plan end-of-life care with their healthcare providers.

“Her firsthand experiences will be extremely valuable as we build an infrastructure and set our strategic and logistical priorities,” said Brian Strom, executive vice president for health affairs and chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

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