Dec. 23 2021

Professor Ashwin Vasan Appointed NYC Health Commissioner

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health applauds Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ appointment of Ashwin Vasan, MD, PhD, as the 44thCommissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), effective March 2022. Vasan, an epidemiologist, medical doctor, and public health leader and advocate, leads Fountain House, a national mental health nonprofit, and is an assistant professor of Clinical Population and Family Health and Medicine at Columbia Mailman School and the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“Dr. Vasan’s career as a public health leader and medical doctor has been guided by a passion to advance equitable health outcomes for everyone, a dedication which will improve New Yorkers’ lives at a time when the pandemic has laid bare health inequities in our city,” said Linda P. Fried, dean and DeLamar Professor of Public Health. “Through his work at the pathbreaking Fountain House he has helped cement that mental health is a critical part of public health. People across all parts of the city will benefit from his expertise in a broad range of pressing public health issues, from chronic disease prevention to HIV to mental health, health care costs, and homelessness, while he leads efforts to control the pandemic.”

Vasan will succeed current Commissioner David Chokshi, MD, who also serves on the Columbia Mailman School’s Board of Advisors.

“We are deeply grateful to Dr. Chokshi for his exemplary leadership during a time of unprecedented need. The city is fortunate that he will continue to work with Dr. Vasan to guide the city’s pandemic response. We look forward to continuing our work together,“ said Fried. 

In previous roles, Vasan was the founding executive director of the Health Access Equity Unit of the NYC DOHMH from 2016 to 2019. He also has worked with Partners in Health and the World Health Organization to promote access to HIV/AIDS treatment in other countries.