Julio Frenk

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Julio Frenk
Julio Frenk.jpg
6th President of the
University of Miami
Assumed office
August 16, 2015
Preceded byDonna Shalala
Secretary of Health
In office
December 1, 2000 – November 30, 2006
PresidentVicente Fox
Preceded byJosé Antonio González Fernández
Succeeded byJosé Ángel Córdova
Personal details
Julio José Frenk Mora

(1953-12-20) December 20, 1953 (age 67)
Mexico City, Mexico
Alma materNational Autonomous University of Mexico (MD)
University of Michigan (MPH), (MA), (PhD)
AwardsCalderone Prize (2018)

Julio José Frenk Mora (born December 20, 1953) is a Mexican physician and former government official who has been the president of the University of Miami since 2015. He is the University of Miami's first Hispanic and native Spanish-speaking president. Frenk formerly was Secretary of Health of Mexico from 2000 to 2006 and as dean of the faculty and T & G Angelopoulos professor of public health and international development at the Harvard School of Public Health, from 2009 to 2015, where he was the university's first Hispanic and native Spanish-speaking dean.

Early life and education[edit]

Frenk was born in Mexico City, Mexico, on December 20, 1953. His father and grandfather, a Jew who fled to Mexico from Nazi Germany, were both physicians.[1]

Frenk received his medical degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1979 and went on to obtain three additional advanced degrees: a Master of Public Health (1981), a Master of Arts in sociology (1982), and a joint Doctor of Philosophy in medical care organization and in sociology (1983), from the University of Michigan.


Early beginnings[edit]

Secretary Frenk with President Vicente Fox and Reyes Tamez, Secretary of Education, in Los Pinos during the initialing ceremony of the National Institute of Genomic Medicine

Frenk's professional career began in 1984, when Frenk assumed the position of founding director of the Centre of Public Health Research, Ministry of Health of Mexico, a role he held until 1987. Following that appointment, he went on to serve as the founding director-general of the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, from 1987 to 1992. From 1995 to 1998, he served as the executive vice president of the Mexican Health Foundation, a private non-profit organization, and the director of its Centre for Health and the Economy.

In addition to his many executive positions, Frenk has served in several academic roles including, senior researcher at the National Institute of Public Health and adjunct professor at the faculty of medicine of the National University of Mexico. He was also awarded the position of national researcher. In 1992–1993, he was visiting professor at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.

In 1998, Frenk was designated executive director of evidence and information for policy at the World Health Organization (WHO), in Geneva, Switzerland.

Minister of Health, 2000–2006[edit]

Following the election of Vicente Fox in Mexico's 2000 presidential election, Frenk was appointed minister of health of Mexico, a position he held until December 2006.

In 2003, while serving as secretary of health of Mexico, Frenk introduced Seguro Popular, a program of comprehensive national health insurance which expanded access to health care for tens of millions of previously uninsured Mexicans.[2] One test of any national healthcare delivery program is its durability after the key architects of the plan are no longer in power; Seguro Popular is still operating in late 2016.[3]

Nominated by Mexico's government, Frenk was among the five final candidates for the position of director-general of WHO in 2003, alongside Lee Jong-wook, Pascoal Mocumbi, Peter Piot and Ismail Sallam; the post eventually went to Lee.[4]

In 2004, Frenk was criticized by tobacco control advocates for cutting an unusual deal with tobacco companies. Philip Morris and British America Tobacco agreed to donate $400 million for health programs in Mexico over 2½ years, but reserved the right to cancel the donation if cigarette taxes were raised[5]

In July 2005, Frenk met the opposition of Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal, a conservative Catholic, because of the decision of the Ministry of Health to distribute the morning-after pill at government health clinics.

In September 2006, the Mexican government put Frenk's name forward for a second time as a candidate for the leadership of WHO.[6] The British medical journal The Lancet published an editorial[7] endorsing Frenk as the best candidate, while The Wall Street Journal reported that the controversial tobacco deal could hurt his chances for election.[8] Alongside Elena Salgado, Kazem Behbehani, Margaret Chan and Shigeru Omi, Frenk eventually became one of the five finalists; in the end, the position was awarded to Chan in November 2006.

Harvard University, 2009–2015[edit]

Julio Frenk is officially installed as the 6th president of the University of Miami on January 29, 2016

Following his service as minister of health, Frenk was tapped to serve as senior fellow in the global health program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he counseled the foundation on global health issues and strategies.

Frenk served as Dean of the Faculty at Harvard University's School of Public Health from 2009 until 2015.[9] While at Harvard, he was also the T & G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development, a joint appointment with the John F. Kennedy School of Government.[10] Under his leadership, the school received its largest-ever gift of $350 million and was renamed Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2014.[11]

In addition to his role at Harvard, Frenck co-chaired (alongside Lincoln Chen) the Commission on the Education of Health Professionals for the 21st Century, which published its final report in The Lancet in 2010; the report recommended that governments place the same emphasis on fighting cancer that they do on infectious diseases like AIDS and malaria.[12] In 2013, he joined Vicente Fox and others campaigning for marijuana legalization at a series of events this year in the United States and Mexico.[13]

University of Miami, 2015–present[edit]

Frenk assumed the presidency of the University of Miami, on 16 August 2015, a position formerly held by Donna Shalala.[14][15] He was officially inaugurated on 29 January 2016.[16] He co-edited a collection of nonfiction essays on the subject of global health entitled "To Save Humanity," which includes work from contributors as varied as Michelle Bachelet, Larry Summers, Elton John and himself.[17]

Other activities[edit]




  1. ^ "A Global Health View". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 14, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Seguro Popular website, accessed 11/30/2016
  4. ^ Lawrence K. Altman (January 29, 2003), South Korean Nominated to Head W.H.O. New York Times.
  5. ^ [1].
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 25, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ http://users2.wsj.com/lmda/do/checkLogin?mg=wsj-users2&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB116164895471701497.html%3Fmod%3Dtodays_us_page_one
  9. ^ Zachary Fagenson (April 13, 2015), Former Mexican health minister named University of Miami president Reuters.
  10. ^ Board of Directors: Julio Frenk Results for Development (R4D).
  11. ^ Sharon Begley (September 8, 2014), Harvard receives largest-ever gift, $350 million for public health Reuters
  12. ^ Donald G. McNeil Jr. (August 16, 2010), Cancer: Expert Panel Calls for Aggressive Fight Against Cancer in Poorer Countries New York Times.
  13. ^ Gabriel Stargardter (July 20, 2013), Mexico could legalize marijuana in five years: former president Reuters.
  14. ^ Donna Shalala welcomes Julio Frenk as the new President of the University of Miami
  15. ^ Frenk named new president of University of Miami: To leave post as dean of Harvard Chan School at end of August
  16. ^ Full Inauguration Video
  17. ^ "To Save Humanity Book Launch Julio Frenk". Vimeo. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  18. ^ Senior Advisoy Board Exemplars in Global Health.
  19. ^ Board of Directors: Julio Frenk United Nations Foundation.
  20. ^ Board of Directors: Julio Frenk Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
  21. ^ Julio Frenk Elected to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Board of Trustees Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), press release of January 29, 2015.
  22. ^ The Commonwealth Fund (2010). "Dr. Julio Frenk to Join Commonwealth Fund Board of Directors" (http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/News/News-Releases/2010/Jul/Dr-Julio-Frenk.aspx). Commonwealthfund.org
  23. ^ Board Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington.
  24. ^ "Inter-American Dialogue | Julio Frenk". www.thedialogue.org. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  25. ^ "Dr. Julio Frenk to Receive Frank A. Calderone Prize from Columbia Mailman School of Public Health". ASPPH. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  26. ^ "Inter-American Dialogue | Julio Frenk". www.thedialogue.org. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  27. ^ $10 million anonymous gift to Harvard’s Public Health School supports scholarships, doctoral-level public health leadership training, September 13, 2016, Harvard Chan School website

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
José Antonio González Fernández
Secretary of Health
2000 — 2006
Succeeded by