Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Editor, is leaving to become president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Besser joined ABC News in 2009. and has provided medical analysis and reports for all ABC News programs and platforms. Among his assignments, in 2011 Besser led ABC’s global health coverage, “Be the Change: Save a Life,” reporting on health issues vital to emerging nations from seven different countries. He was embedded with a team from the Center for Disease Control in Uganda in 2012 for a series of reports titled: “Inside the Hot Zone: The Ebola Outbreak,” and made two trips to Liberia to cover the Ebola crisis in 2014.
Besser came to ABC News from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he served as director of the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. In that role he was responsible for all of the CDC’s public health emergency preparedness and emergency response activities. He also served as acting director for the CDC from January to June 2009, during which time he led the CDC’s response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic.
ABC News president James Goldston’s memo to staff:
I have bittersweet news to share. Our Dr. B, Rich Besser, is leaving ABC News to become president and CEO of the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. His last day with us is April 3. Rich has been a beloved member of the ABC News family.
His first assignment was in Haiti in 2010. After learning of a pregnant woman who gave birth in a park, he helped her get care in a tent hospital in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake. We quickly learned he is a natural communicator and both compassionate and calm in any crisis.
For seven years Rich has taken our viewers to the front lines of major public health disasters around the world and translated complex medical information to help people make better decisions about their health. In 2014 he memorably headed to the front lines of the Ebola crisis, where his expertise and courage took viewers right to the heart of that battle against a devastating and deadly virus.
But it isn’t just his knowledge and his journalism that sets Rich apart, it has been his role at ABC News as our most trusted medical adviser and friend.
He has been there for everybody at this News Division at our most vulnerable moments, the painful and scary moments, and at those moments when we need a shoulder to cry on. On a personal note, Rich has often helped me and my family as well, and I, and I know all of you, will be forever grateful to him.
Please join me in wishing Rich the very best in this new assignment, where he is sure to mightily help the cause of public health in America and help all of us live healthier lives. James