Susan Blumenthal

Senior Fellow in Health Policy

Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.A. (ret,) is a senior fellow with the Health Policy Program at New America. For more than two decades, Dr. Blumenthal provided distinguished service as a leading federal government medical expert, as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, and as a spokesperson in the administrations of four U.S. Presidents. She served as assistant surgeon general of the United States, the first-ever deputy assistant secretary for women's health, and was senior global and e-health advisor in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Dr. Blumenthal was also a White House health advisor, the medical advisor to the Secretary, USDA, chief of the Behavioral Medicine and Basic Prevention Research Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, and chair of the Health and Behavior Coordinating Committee at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Blumenthal currently serves as public health editor of The Huffington Post, as senior policy and medical ddvisor at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research and is the director of an initiative on strengthening nutrition in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to reduce food insecurity and obesity in America. She is also a clinical professor at Georgetown and Tufts Schools of Medicine and chair of the Global Health Program at the Meridian International Center.

The hallmark of Dr. Blumenthal’s work throughout her career has been her visionary leadership in bringing understudied health issues to increased public and scientific attention and developing multi-sector initiatives and “health in all policies” solutions to complex health challenges. Dr. Blumenthal has been a major force in advancing global and women’s health as well as a national leader in the prevention of chronic disease, suicide, and violence. She has also been involved in addressing emerging health threats including obesity, bioterrorism and pandemic flu. Dr. Blumenthal has been at the frontline in health care reform efforts in the United States as a member of a governmental task force and as co-chair and executive director of the Commission on New Directions in U.S. Federal Leadership on Health at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC) where she directed its Health and Medicine Program.

Dr. Blumenthal was a pioneer in exposing the inequities in women’s health and the lack of attention to gender differences in disease. In recognition of her leadership, she was appointed and served as the country’s first deputy assistant secretary for Women’s Health where she coordinated a $4 billion dollar budget across the agencies of HHS, developing many novel cross cutting initiatives that moved women’s health and the career development of women in medicine and science to the forefront of our country’s health care agenda and worked with other countries to do the same. She founded the National Centers of Excellence in Women’s Health program and the National Women’s Health Information Center as well as appointed regional women’s health coordinators to build infrastructure at the state level. She also has established and directed several international initiatives (including in the Middle East) using health diplomacy as a peace-building tool.

Additionally, Dr. Blumenthal was among the first in the government to apply information technology and social media to improve health, establishing several award-winning websites (the first in the government for health and global health) and an innovative initiative, “From Missiles to Mammograms” that transferred imaging technology from space exploration and military purposes to improve the early detection of breast cancer. Dr. Blumenthal has published many scientific articles, edited books including Suicide over the Life Cycle, served as the host and medical director of a television series on health, and chaired numerous national and international committees and conferences. Named by the Medical Herald and the National Library of Medicine as one of the most influential women in medicine and by the New York Times as one of the top doctors in the women's health field, Rear Admiral Blumenthal is the recipient of numerous awards, medals and honorary doctorates for her pioneering leadership and significant contributions to improving health. She was named the 2009 Health Leader of the Year by the Commissioned Officers Association, its highest honor, and as a Rock Star of Science by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation.

All Work

Zika and the Rio 2016 Olympics: A Global Marathon against a Microbe

Dr. Susan Blumenthal and Ladan Fakory argue that the question isn't whether to move the Olympics, but how to combat Zika.

What Income And Geography Mean For Life Expectancy

Dr. Susan Blumenthal joined the Diane Rehm Show on NPR to discuss how income and geography affect life expectancy.

Writing a New National Prescription to Improve Women’s Health: History, Progress and Challenges Ahead

Madame Curie once remarked, “I never see what has been done, I only see what remains to be done.”

GAO Report Reveals More Work Needed to Improve Women's Health

Why does a focus on women’s health matter?

Obesity and Food Insecurity: A Public Health Paradox

In September, the USDA issued a report with the finding that 14 percent of American households -- 17.4 million families -- were food insecur

Writing a National Prescription to Improve the Mental Health of America's Youth

October 5-11 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, a time to mark the importance of mental health to an individual's overall wellbeing. In a nat

How to End HIV in American Women

Women’s health matters. For all too long, women’s health was neglected in AIDS research, in clinical settings, and in public policies. But n

Taking Brain Vitals: New Tools to Detect Mental Disorders

During routine medical checkups, physicians measure various physical vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, pulse and respiratory

Women and HIV in America: Making AIDS History

If we are to end AIDS among women in America, preventing new HIV infections is essential and there are a range of tools that can help, inclu

Aging in Place: An Intergenerational Priority

Achieving communities that support aging in place will require working together across the public and private sectors, and engaging experts