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Northeastern appoints new director of the Institute on Urban Health Research

John Auerbach, a nationally known expert in public healthcare and civic leadership, has been named the new director of the Institute on Urban Health Research in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University.

Auerbach will join Northeastern in November and hold an appointment as a Distinguished Professor of Practice in the college’s Department of Health Sciences.

“We know John’s impact will be felt across the university and the national public health community as we continue to generate and disseminate new knowledge related to providing humane, quality and equitable healthcare for our nation,” said Terry Fulmer, dean of Bouvé.

Auerbach brings more than 30 years of experience to the Northeastern community, including oversight of government agencies, healthcare facilities and nonprofit boards. His leadership has been instrumental in government policy-setting at the local, state and federal levels.

“As the director of the Institute on Urban Health Research, I look forward to applying my years of experience in government and policy development to the arenas of teaching and research. I will continue to pursue the Institute’s excellent work on behavioral health and the elimination of health disparities,” said Auerbach. “I also believe there are emerging health issues — such as those related to healthcare reform and to the linkage of population health with clinical care — that present new, exciting leadership opportunities for the university.”

For the last five years, Auerbach has served as the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, working as a senior health policy adviser to Gov. Deval Patrick and overseeing the organization’s $800 million budget.

From 1998 to 2007, Auerbach served as the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, the oldest health department in the United States. Among his many accomplishments in this role, Auerbach created a new set of health priorities for the city of Boston, including conceiving and establishing programs addressing asthma, diabetes and cancer prevention and the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities.

Auerbach has received several awards throughout his accomplished career. In 2008, for example, he received the Ruth Batson Social Justice Award from Harvard Medical School for his commitment to social justice, civic engagement and community building.

He earned a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in healthcare administration from the Boston University School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in history from Clark University.

Auerbach will succeed Hortensia Amaro, the former director of the Institute on Urban Health Research, who left Northeastern in August after 11 years of service to the university.

The institute is devoted to knowledge discovery and its practical application to improve personal and public health within urban communities. It’s particularly focused on understanding the social and environmental conditions of urban living in order to inform public health intervention strategies, policies and professional training.

The Bouvé College of Health Sciences is a center of excellence in health education, research and service. The college offers undergraduate and graduate programs with an interdisciplinary emphasis that reflects today’s integrated approach to healthcare.