Washington D. C. - President Joe Biden announced yesterday his intent to nominate Puerto Rican physician Lester Martinez Lopez as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in the Department of Defense
Martínez López, a retired U.S. Army Major General, appointment requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
In the early 2000s, Martínez-López - born in Mayagüez, but raised in Maricao - became the first Latino to head the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick in Maryland
“Dr. Martínez-López’s responsibilities included directing the Army’s worldwide medical research, acquisition, and logistics program,” the White House indicated.
Among his duties, Martínez López oversaw a portfolio that included cancer, trauma, infectious diseases, biodefense, chemical defense, nutrition, environmental health, aviation medicine, and telemedicine research.
The White House indicated that he also directed the premier national biological and chemical defense laboratories and research program and led the development of the National Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick. Before this, Puerto Rican Martínez López, who lives in Florida, was the Commanding General of the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine at Edgewood, Maryland.
Most recently, Martínez-López was the Chief Medical Officer at the Brandon Regional Hospital, in Florida, and Senior Vice President and Administrator of the Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital in Harris County, Texas
Javier Cuebas, president and founder of the Grupo 21 organization, noted that Dr. Martínez López is “one of nearly 100 highly qualified candidates” they have recommended to the Biden″ administration.
“His academic and professional credentials are outstanding, but what makes him such a unique candidate is his personal story and humility. This is a Puerto Rican from one of the smallest towns in rural Puerto Rico, who has been nominated by the president of the United States to oversee one of the largest and most complex health systems in the world,” Cuebas said.