Naveen Rao

Senior Vice-President, Health Initiative, Rockefeller Foundation

Dr. Naveen Rao is Senior Vice President of the Health Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation.

Dr. Rao leads The Rockefeller Foundation’s work to ensure more equitable access to Covid-19 tests and vaccines, science-based tools, and data to fight the pandemic, while strengthening public health systems to prevent future outbreaks. Under Dr. Rao’s leadership, The Foundation launched the Precision Public Health initiative and rapidly expanded this data-driven public health approach to address the current Covid-19 pandemic in the US and abroad. Dr. Rao is also spearheading The Foundation’s efforts to use data to predict, prevent and quickly respond to future pandemics, including by facilitating greater global collaboration around genomic surveillance.

For decades, Dr. Rao has been a leader in equipping health care providers with the skills, tools, and technologies they need to succeed. He joined The Foundation after a 25-year career with Merck & Co., Inc., where he led Merck for Mothers, the company’s 10-year, $500 million initiative to reduce maternal mortality around the world. In this capacity, Dr. Rao was responsible for leveraging the company’s science and business expertise to accelerate progress in reaching the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and advancing the company’s mission to improve and save lives.

Prior to leading Merck for Mothers, Dr. Rao was Head of Medical Affairs for Merck’s Asia-Pacific region and Managing Director of Merck’s subsidiary in India. Prior to joining Merck in 1993, he was the Associate Director of the Department of Medicine at Beekman-Downtown Hospital and practiced Internal Medicine in New York City for 10 years.

Dr. Rao is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Medic Mobile and represents The Rockefeller Foundation on the Private Foundation constituency of Global Fund ATM.

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