Letter from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

I could not be more delighted and honored to have taken on the role of Chair of the Department of Population Medicine and Institute President in January. Next year, I’ll have the chance to celebrate all we accomplished in 2024. For now, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on what brought us to this point.

Over 2 decades ago, Rich Platt became the second Chair of the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (now Department of Population Medicine) at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (now Point32Health) and Harvard Medical School (no change yet!). After the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute was founded to be the new institutional home for the Department, with Rich as its inaugural President. 

I’ve heard it said that an organization can’t be considered a true institution unless it outlasts the tenure of its founder. By this and many other measures, the Institute did, and continues to do, pretty great. So much has changed during Rich’s tenure as Chair and President. Our department has a new name and different institutional reporting structure. Our faculty increased from 19 to more than 40. We went from no research scientists to almost two dozen. The overall count of employees more than doubled. Our extramural funding increased from $10 million in 2000 to $89 million last year!!

The many successes of 2023 build on the solid foundation of growth, impact, and collaboration that we have enjoyed under Rich’s leadership. We continued to expand our portfolio of research projects on the health of populations, many of which have had concrete influence on local, national, and international policies and programs. Our teaching and mentoring programs are anchored and elevated by faculty and the staff that support them.

I kick off this new role ready to take on new opportunities and growth. I know I won’t be alone in these efforts. As we reflect on another year of collaboration, the evidence is strong: we’re poised to achieve great things as long as we continue working together.


Emily Oken
Professor and Chair, Department of Population Medicine
President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute