College of Public Health

Ali Khan, MD, MPHAli Khan, MD, MPH, a former assistant surgeon general, is the third dean of the College of Public Health. Dr. Khan’s vision is for the college to develop innovative strategies in helping to make Nebraska the healthiest state in the Union as a national global model.

He served at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 23 years before retiring as the director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. In that role, he managed the $1.5 billion public health security program and was responsible for CDC's public health preparedness and response activities. He provided strategic direction, support and coordination for these activities across CDC, as well as with local, state, tribal, national, territorial and international public health partners.

Dr. Khan joined the CDC and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 1991 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer and over the past decades has led and responded to numerous high-profile domestic and international public health emergencies, including hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, monkeypox, avian influenza, Rift Valley fever, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Asian Tsunami (2004), and the initial public health response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

In 1999, Dr. Khan served as one of the main architects of the CDC's public health bioterrorism preparedness program, which upgraded local, state and national public health systems to detect and rapidly respond to bioterrorism. As the deputy director of this novel program, he led the creation of the critical agent list that was the basis for all biological terrorism preparedness, published the first national public health preparedness plan with key focus areas to improve local and state capacities, and initiated pilots of syndrome-based surveillance and health data fusion.

These preparedness efforts were crucial in limiting the scope of the first anthrax attack, during which he directed the CDC operational response in Washington, D.C. More recently, he has focused on advancing our nation’s health security by developing methods to improve public health knowledge exchange, integration and delivery; use of social media for crowd sourcing data, sharing information and soliciting volunteers; risk-based approaches to build robust public health systems and resilient communities; new metrics such as the national health security index – a composite measure of state preparedness; and emergency management programs globally.

Dr. Khan's professional career has focused on emerging infectious diseases, bioterrorism and global health security. He founded the Public Health Matters blog and has been personally engaged in guinea worm and polio eradication activities. While directing global infectious disease activities, he designed the laboratory component of the CDC's field epidemiology and training program. He also helped design and implement the CDC component of the $1.2 billion, 5-year President’s Malaria Initiative. He co-founded a novel center at the CDC to champion a One Health strategy to ensure health security from a myriad of zoonotic, vector-borne and food-borne infectious diseases. More recently he has focused on better integration of public health and healthcare for disease prevention, reducing health inequities, and the social determinants of health.

Dr. Khan received his medical degree from Downstate Medical Center in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, and completed a joint residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor before joining the CDC. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians. He has a master's of public health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, where he was an adjunct professor and directed the emerging infections course, and a master's of business administration from the University of Nebraska Omaha.

He has more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, textbook chapters, editorials and brief communiqués. He has consulted extensively for multiple U.S. organizations, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, numerous ministries of health and the World Health Organization.