Julio Frenk
Frenk in April 2005
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 70)
Mexico City, Mexico
SpouseFelicia Knaul
EducationNational 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 sociologist. He 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. At the University of Miami, he is also a professor of public health science at the university's Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, professor of health sector management at the university's Herbert Business School, and professor of sociology at its College of Arts of Sciences.

Prior to being appointed University of Miami president, Frenk was dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University from 2009 to 2015 and a professor of public health and international development at Harvard Kennedy School. Prior to his appointments at Harvard University, Frenk was the Mexican government's Secretary of Health from 2002 until 2006.

Early life and education

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

Frenk received his medical degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City in 1979. He then attend the University of Michigan, where he obtained three graduate degrees, a Master's of Public Health in 1981, a Master of Arts in sociology in 1982, and a joint Doctor of Philosophy in medical care organization and sociology in 1983.


Frenk with Mexican president Vicente Fox and education secretary Reyes Tamez in Los Pinos during the initialing ceremony of the National Institute of Genomic Medicine in July 2004
Frenk's official installation as the University of Miami's sixth president in January 2016
Frenk with wife Felicia Knaul in October 2018

In 1984, Frenk was appointed director of the Centre of Public Health Research in the Ministry of Health of Mexico, a role he held until 1987. Following that, 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 executive vice president of the Mexican Health Foundation, a private non-profit organization, and director of the organization's Centre for Health and the Economy.

Frenk also has served in several academic roles, including as a senior researcher at the National Institute of Public Health and as adjunct professor of medicine and national researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. In 1992–1993, he was visiting professor at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard University's Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In 1993, he was an advisor on health reform for the government of Colombia, working alongside health economist Felicia Knaul. The two married in 1995, and settled in Mexico.[2]

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

Mexico's Minister of Health (2000–2006)

Further information: Secretariat of Health (Mexico)

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, as Mexico's secretary of health, Frenk introduced a comprehensive national health insurance program called Seguro Popular, which expanded access to health care for tens of millions of previously uninsured Mexicans.[3]

In 2003, Frenk was among five final candidates for the position of director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) alongside Lee Jong-wook, Pascoal Mocumbi, Peter Piot, and Ismail Sallam; Lee was eventually appointed the position.[4]

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

In July 2005, Frenk drew criticism from U.S. Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal over the Mexican Ministry of Health's decision to distribute the morning-after pill at Mexico's government health clinics.

In September 2006, the Mexican government again nominated Frenk 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 Frenk's controversial 2004 tobacco deal could hurt his chances for election.[8] Along with Elena Salgado, Kazem Behbehani, Margaret Chan, and Shigeru Omi, Frenk was one of the five finalists for the position, which was awarded to Chan in November 2006.

Harvard University (2009-2015)

Further information: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Following his service as Mexico's 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 subsequently served as dean of the faculty at Harvard University's Harvard T.H. Chan 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 made with the Harvard Kennedy School.[10] Under Frenk's leadership, Harvard's School of Public Health 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 as dean of Harvard School of Public Health, Frenk co-chaired, along with 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 place on infectious diseases like AIDS and malaria.[12] He served on the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development, co-chaired by Joaquim Chissano and Tarja Halonen, from 2012 to 2014.[13] In 2013, Fenk joined Vicente Fox and others in campaigning for marijuana legalization at a series of events in the United States and Mexico.[14]

In 2015, Frenk co-edited a collection of non-fiction essays on the subject of global health, "To Save Humanity," which included work from Michelle Bachelet, Larry Summers, Elton John, Frenk, and others.[15]

University of Miami (2015-current)

Further information: University of Miami

On April 13, 2015, the University of Miami announced the appointment of Frenk as the university's sixth president, succeeding Donna Shalala.[16] He was officially inaugurated on January 29, 2016.[17]

In 2015, Frenk's salary as University of Miami president was $1.14 million.[18]

Since 2022, Frenk has been a member of the Commission for Universal Health convened by Chatham House and co-chaired by Helen Clark and Jakaya Kikwete.[19]

Other activities




  1. ^ "A Global Health View". Harvard Magazine. March 2009. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  2. ^ Goho, Alexandra (September 29, 2014). "Closing the Cancer Care Gap". Cancer Today. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  3. ^ "Health System Reform in Mexico | the Lancet Global Health Network". Archived from the original on September 14, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2008.
  4. ^ Lawrence K. Altman (January 29, 2003), South Korean Nominated to Head W.H.O. New York Times.
  5. ^ "Log in".
  6. ^ "Welcome to the US Petabox". Archived from the original on July 25, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2006.
  7. ^ Horton, Richard (2006). "The next Director-General of WHO". The Lancet. 368 (9543): 1213–1214. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69496-8. PMID 17027707. S2CID 37755884.
  8. ^ "Log in".
  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. ^ Members High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development.
  14. ^ Gabriel Stargardter (July 20, 2013), Mexico could legalize marijuana in five years: former president Reuters.
  15. ^ "To Save Humanity Book Launch Julio Frenk". Vimeo. August 27, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  16. ^ [1] Archived April 16, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Full Inauguration Video
  18. ^ Dhiraj, Amarendra (December 11, 2017). "America's Top 50 Highest Paid Private University Presidents". CEOWORLD magazine. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  19. ^ Commission for Universal Health Chatham House.
  20. ^ Senior Advisoy Board Exemplars in Global Health.
  21. ^ Board of Directors: Julio Frenk United Nations Foundation.
  22. ^ Board of Directors: Julio Frenk Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
  23. ^ Julio Frenk Elected to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Board of Trustees Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), press release of January 29, 2015.
  24. ^ 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 Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine). Commonwealthfund.org
  25. ^ Board Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington.
  26. ^ "Inter-American Dialogue | Julio Frenk". www.thedialogue.org. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  27. ^ "Dr. Julio Frenk to Receive Frank A. Calderone Prize from Columbia Mailman School of Public Health". ASPPH. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  28. ^ "Inter-American Dialogue | Julio Frenk". www.thedialogue.org. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  29. ^ $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
Political offices Preceded byJosé Antonio González Fernández Secretary of Health 2000–2006 Succeeded byJosé Ángel Córdova Villalobos