NEWS | February 7, 2011

Kenneth W. Kizer named director of new Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System


Kenneth W. Kizer, one of the nation’s preeminent authorities on public health and health- care quality improvement, has been named the director of the new Institute for Population Health Improvement (IPHI) at UC Davis Health System, and a Target of Excellence professor at the School of Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

As director of the IPHI, Kizer will launch an initiative to determine how the university can play an even larger role in improving the health of patients everywhere. The new institute is dedicated to identifying and implementing community and health-care innovations using population-level perspectives to improve the health of society. Kizer will leverage UC Davis’ considerable campus resources, as well as local, national and global expertise to foster collaborations that advance the mission of optimizing population health. 

As a Target of Excellence professor, Kizer will teach graduate-level courses in health- care leadership, policy development and implementation, and organizational transformation. He also will mentor faculty within the health system and beyond, and serve as a member of the Nursing Science and Health Care Leadership Graduate Group.

“Ken Kizer is an influential and innovative leader in the public and private sectors who is committed to conducting leading-edge research that translates into better health,” said Claire Pomeroy, chief executive officer of UC Davis Health System, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis. “As inaugural director of the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement, he will work collaboratively with UC Davis faculty and staff and our many partners in industry, government and the community to find innovative solutions that improve the quality of life in our community and truly advance health for all.”

“The development of the Institute for Population Health Improvement is critical to actualizing the vision for interdisciplinary research and education at UC Davis Health System,” said Heather M. Young, associate vice chancellor for nursing and founding dean at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. “Additionally, the institute will significantly enhance the research at the nursing school, which emphasizes population health as a research priority.”

"The Institute for Population Health Improvement is a collaborative initiative that integrates many disciplines and operational functions of the UC Davis Health System including our School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and our hospital and clinics," said Frederick J. Meyers, executive associate dean. "The new institute will be well-positioned to quickly identify and address emerging health concerns in our communities."

Kizer was director of the state Department of Health Services from 1984 to 1991, leading California's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and establishing the state's famed tobacco control program. He implemented the largest population-based cancer registry and the largest birth defects monitoring program in the world and founded the "5-a-Day" for better health nutrition program that was later adopted by the National Cancer Institute.

From 1994 to1999, Kizer served as the Under Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, making him the highest-ranking physician in the federal government and chief executive officer of the nation’s largest health-care system. While at the VA, Kizer engineered what is widely regarded as the largest and most successful health-care “turnaround” in U.S. history, including the largest deployment of an electronic health record anywhere to date. The internationally acclaimed transformation of VA health care is often cited as a model for health-care reform.

As founding president and CEO of the National Quality Forum, Kizer led efforts to establish consensus-based national standards for the public reporting of health-care performance data, a key tool for driving health care quality improvement. While there, Kizer developed quality-of-care performance measures now used by Medicare and the first evidence-based “safe practices” to prevent medical errors and health-care associated infections, used widely throughout American health care today. More recently, under his leadership, MedSphere Systems Corporation became the nation's leading commercial provider of open source information technology for the health-care industry.

"The confluence of multiple circumstances here in California and nationally makes this an especially opportune time to better align the many factors that determine individual and population health and to rethink how we can better integrate research, education and care delivery to build healthier and stronger communities here in California and around the globe," said Kizer. 

Kizer previously served as a faculty member at UC Davis from 1984 until 1994, as professor and chair of the Department of Community and International Health and as a professor of emergency medicine. He also has held adjunct faculty positions at the University of Southern California and the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences. 
Kizer is an honors graduate of Stanford University and UCLA and holds honorary doctorates from State University of New York and the Medical University of South Carolina. Board-certified in six medical specialties and subspecialties, including emergency medicine, general preventive medicine and public health, and occupational and environmental medicine, he has authored some 400 original studies, book chapters and other reports on a wide range of subjects, including scuba diving accidents, hazardous marine life and animal bites, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, food safety, toxic chemical emergency incidents, veterans health issues and health systems change management, among other things.

Kizer was elected to both the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Medical Society and Delta Omega National Honorary Public Health Society. He has received dozens of honors and awards, including the Award of Excellence from the American Public Health Association, Earnest A. Codman Award from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Gustav O. Lienhard Medal from the  Institute of Medicine, the Justin Ford Kimball Innovators Award from the American Hospital Association, the Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Public Service from the American Medical Association, the Exceptional Service Award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Founder's Award from the American College of Medical Quality.  He is also a Distinguished Fellow of the American College of Physician Executives.

As director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement, Kizer receives an annual base salary of $249,935. Additional information about his compensation is available upon request.

UC Davis Health System is advancing the health of patients everywhere by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 645-bed acute-care teaching hospital, an 800-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit