Health Initiative/

Naveen Rao, MD

Senior Vice President & Senior Advisor to the President, Health Initiative, The 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.

Authored Content

  • Dec 11 2020
    Blog Post Health for All: Expanding Our Commitment to Equity During a Pandemic On December 12, advocates around the world are coming together to mark UHC Day, calling for equitable health systems that leave no one behind. Universal Health Coverage, or UHC, has long been a goal at The Rockefeller Foundation – we helped establish the first UHC Day in 2014, and are more committed than ever to […] Naveen Rao, MD, FACP
  • Jan 23 2020
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    Impact Through Innovation Dr. Naveen Rao on Precision Public Health Three weeks into 2020, our team reflects on how we can continue to create #ImpactThroughInnovation. For Dr. Naveen Rao, Senior Vice President for our Health Initiative, it’s about harnessing data and data science for better health outcomes through Precision Public Health.
  • Nov 27 2019
    Blog Post Transforming Women’s Health Will Take Heightened Awareness and 21st Century Innovation Last month, I had the opportunity to join a passionate panel of advocates and experts at the inaugural TIME 100 Health Summit, to discuss both the strategy and urgency needed to transform women’s health. I walked away with the overarching feeling that our ability to improve women’s health outcomes depends on our will to do […] Naveen Rao, MD, FACP
  • Sep 25 2019
    Blog Post Precision Public Health: Leveraging Data to Unlock Health for All This week, as world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly to advance health for all, I can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come, and how much we still must do. The Universal Health Coverage (UHC) movement – a movement that The Rockefeller Foundation championed from its inception – has seen unprecedented […] Naveen Rao, MD, FACP
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