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Florida's deputy secretary for health

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April 2018

College of Medicine Professor Les Beitsch needs no introduction to the Florida Department of Health (DOH). He has focused a significant portion of his teaching and research on health policy and public health. He served as Florida’s deputy secretary for health during 12 years with the DOH earlier in his career.

And now he’s back in that role – introduced once more as the Florida deputy secretary for health.

Beitsch will assume those duties April 23. He will continue in his current role as chair of the medical school’s Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine.

“As much as anything, this is one example of many ways in which the College of Medicine serves the people of Florida,” said Beitsch. “Our medical school is uniquely situated a short jog from the Capitol and most state agencies are here in Tallahassee. With our available expertise and our mission to serve, it makes sense that the state would call on us when there’s an opportunity to provide resources to meet Florida’s health-care needs.”

Beitsch earned his M.D. at Georgetown University School of Medicine and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. From 2001 to 2003 he served as commissioner of health for the state of Oklahoma, where his contributions included implementing a ban on smoking in public buildings – one of the early moves by any state agency to curb the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

At the College of Medicine, Beitsch developed the Center on Patient Safety and founded the Center for Medicine and Public Health in 2012. The Center for Medicine and Public Health collaborates with partners such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of Community Health Centers and state and local health departments.

Among several dozen health leadership roles Beitsch has taken on during his career, he served on the National Academies of Science Institute of Medicine committee examining the future of public health practice in a reformed health-care system.