The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has appointed former United States Public Health Service four-star Admiral Joxel Garcia, MD, as the inaugural Executive Director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Platform, part of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program. He joined MD Anderson on August 31.
“Dr. Garcia is an internationally recognized health care leader with proven experience and success in a variety of health care settings,” said Giulio Draetta, MD, PhD, Professor of Genomic Medicine and Molecular & Cellular Oncology and co-leader of the Moon Shots Program. “We’re excited to have someone of his caliber on board and know he will contribute a great deal to the platform and the program overall.”
The Cancer Prevention and Control Platform
The Moon Shots Program is an effort to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical and population-oriented advances that significantly reduce cancer deaths. The Cancer Prevention and Control Platform implements and disseminates evidence-based, community-focused programs to advance cancer prevention, screening, early detection, and survivorship. The platform focuses on providing policy, education and services to achieve a measurable and sustainable reduction in the cancer burden, especially in the underserved population, for whom cancer and cancer risk factors predominate. This effort focuses on what’s known about diet, exercise, sun protection, tobacco avoidance, and human papillomavirus, among other topics.
“It’s estimated that as much as 50% of the cancer burden in the American population is preventable,” said Ernest Hawk, MD, Vice President and Division Head of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences and Coleader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Platform. “Cancer prevention and control, practiced at both the individual and population levels, are critical to success in our mission of ending cancer.”
“I see myself as a catalyst to bring MD Anderson’s cancer control and prevention efforts to new heights in a sustainable and ever-growing way,” said Dr. Garcia.
A High-Level, Diverse Career
Dr. Garcia began his medical career as an obstetrician/gynecologist and then become the commissioner for the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health. After serving as the Deputy Director for the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, he moved into the corporate sector. There, he worked as Senior Vice President and Senior Medical Officer at Maximus Federal Services Inc.
President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Garcia as the 13th U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health. At the same time, he was appointed as a four-star Admiral for the United States Public Health Service, and as the U.S. Representative to the World Health Organization. During this time, and as the highest ranking medical and public health official in the U.S., Dr. Garcia led more than 6,220 U.S. Public Service Commissioned Corps officers in the U.S. and in 88 countries for the protection, promotion, and advancement of health.
Following his government service, Dr. Garcia returned to his native Puerto Rico and served as the President and Dean of Medicine for Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences. In 2012, he returned to serve as the Director and Chief Medical Officer for the Washington, D.C. Department of Health and as a Founding Partner with Aegis Health Security.
Dr. Garcia has served on several boards of nationally recognized health care organizations, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the National Dialogue on Cancer. He has received numerous awards and honors including the Secretary of Defense Award for Exceptional Public Service and the U.S. Public Health Service Distinguished Service Award. ■