HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Levine Visits NIH
The 17th HHS assistant secretary for health Adm. Rachel Levine paid NIH a visit on June 22 in honor of Pride Month. She is the first openly transgender individual to serve in a Senate-confirmed position and the first ASH who is transgender. In addition, she is the first openly transgender 4-star officer across any of the uniformed services and the first female 4-star officer to lead the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
As part of her visit, Levine provided opening remarks for a panel discussion titled “Together Towards Discovery: How Our Intersecting LGBTQIA+ Identities Impact Our NIH Work.”
Levine toured portions of the Clinical Center and met with NIH leadership to discuss the ongoing RECOVER (Researching Covid to Enhance Recovery) Initiative. She also heard updates from several senior leaders on strategic plans and other research efforts at some of the institutes and centers.
In tours of both the CC pediatric unit and rehabilitation medicine department, Levine expressed wonder at advances made possible by NIH research.
A pediatrician by training, she recalled how conditions such as cerebral palsy were once considered to be static and unlikely to improve. Thanks to ongoing research, including major work at NIH, physical therapies and other interventions are improving quality of life for very young cerebral palsy patients. Levine marveled at the life-changing advances NIH has made for people with cerebral palsy over the course of her career alone.
Levine also learned about ongoing CC construction to expand capacity to treat infants and increase the use of curative treatments, such as gene therapy.
After touring the CC, she received updates on Covid-19 research and related current initiatives, including NIH’s efforts to include social determinants of health when seeking to understand Covid and other health conditions.
Levine then offered opening remarks for the Pride event and finished out her day by meeting with officers of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps at NIH.
“Your work to turn discovery into health is incredible!” she said later in a Twitter post thanking NIH.