Karen DeSalvo steps down from ONC post; Jacob Reider to leave in November

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include news of Deputy National Coordinator Jacob Reider's departure.

Karen DeSalvo will step down from her role as National Coordinator for Health IT, effective immediately, to serve as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the behest of HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, an ONC spokesperson confirmed to FierceHealthIT on Thursday afternoon. In her new role, DeSalvo will work with Burwell on "pressing health issues, including becoming a part of the department's team responding to Ebola," the spokesperson said in an email.

"Dr. DeSalvo has deep roots and a belief in public health and its critical value in assuring the health of everyone, not only in crisis, but every day," the spokesperson said.

Lisa Lewis, ONC's chief operating officer, will serve as Acting National Coordinator, according to ONC.

Deputy National Coordinator Jacob Reider also will leave ONC in late November, Reider confirmed to FierceHealthIT late Thursday.

"In light of the events that led to Karen's announcement today--it's appropriate now to be clear about my plans, as well," Reider said in an email to ONC staffers and sent to FierceHealthIT. "With Jon White and Andy Gettinger on board, and a search for a new Deputy National Coordinator well underway, I am pleased that much of this has now fallen into place--with only a few loose ends yet to be completed. I'll remain at ONC until late November, working closely with Lisa as she assumes her role as Acting National Coordinator."

DeSalvo and Reider become the latest in a recent string of leadership officials to leave ONC. Judy Murphy stepped down from her role as chief nursing officer and director of the Office of Clinical Quality and Safety at ONC on Oct. 17 to join tech giant IBM, while Doug Fridsma, chief scientist at ONC, will join the American Medical Informatics Association as president and CEO on Nov. 1.

In July, Joy Pritts stepped down as chief privacy officer at ONC after having served in that role since 2010. That same month, Lygeia Ricciardi, who had served as director of the Office of Consumer eHealth at ONC since 2012, also left the agency.

DeSalvo's departure comes just 10 months after replacing Farzad Mostashari as National Coordinator in January.

Read more on