Internationally recognized for expertise in health services research, the U.S. healthcare system, and health policy analysis, Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, MHSA, was appointed as director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in February 2022, where he leads the agency’s work in improving and promoting patient safety.

“I’m very excited to welcome Bob as the director of AHRQ,” David Meyers, MD, AHRQ deputy director, said. “We’re extremely fortunate to have someone of his expertise to help lead the agency. He is taking the helm at an opportune time as we look to the future of healthcare post-COVID and set our sights on how we can improve care, including health equity.”

According to AHRQ, Valdez began his career as the lead child health researcher for RAND Corporation’s Health Insurance Experiment, the largest health policy study in U.S. history. More recently, Valdez was the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) professor emeritus of family and community medicine and economics at the University of New Mexico (UNM). In 2008, Valdez was the founding executive director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM. He also served as founding dean at the Drexel University school of public health. From 1993–1997, Valdez served at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as deputy assistant secretary for health and the director of interagency health policy. Prior to that, he was a special senior advisor to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

“Congratulations to Bob Valdez for his new role as director of AHRQ. We’re extremely fortunate to have his internationally-recognized expertise and deep understanding of health services research to held lead this agency,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “I know Bob will be able to dive right in and lead AHRQ’s critical work to promote patient safety, improve primary care, and increase the availability and use of healthcare data.”