Dr. Alexander Garza is the assistant secretary for health affairs and chief medical officer of the Department of Homeland Security. He manages the Department's medical and health security matters, oversees the health aspects of contingency planning for all chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards, and leads a coordinated effort to ensure that the Department is prepared to respond to biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
Prior to joining the Department in August 2009, Dr. Garza spent 13 years as a practicing physician and medical educator. He most recently served as the director of military programs at the ER One Institute at the Washington Hospital Center, and has served as the associate medical director of the emergency medical services (EMS) for the state of New Mexico, and director of EMS for the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department. While practicing medicine he also served as a professor at leading medical institutions including Georgetown University, the University of New Mexico and University of Missouri - Kansas City.
Dr. Garza served in the U.S. Army Reserve and was a battalion surgeon and public health team chief during Operation Flintlock in Dakar, Senegal. He also served as a public health team chief during Operation Iraqi Freedom and as a special investigator and medical expert for Major General Raymond Odierno. He coordinated the development of a Web site that facilitated the donation of more than one million medical books to Iraq. Dr. Garza earned over a dozen awards including the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge.
Dr. Garza holds a medical degree from the University of Missouri - Columbia School of Medicine, a Master of Public Health from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Prior to earning his M.D., he served as a paramedic and an emergency medical technician. He is a fellow in the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member of the American Public Health Association and other health organizations. He is a Senior Editor for the Oxford Handbook in Disaster Medicine and has authored numerous chapters in medical texts and published multiple articles and peer-reviewed publications. He has lectured nationally and internationally about emergency care and disaster medicine. He is a recipient of the American Heart Association's Young Investigator Award, a White House Commendation for Drug Demand Reduction and numerous awards for his work in emergency medicine.