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Name: Backer, Dr. Howard
Current Position: Director

Appointed director in July 2011, Dr. Howard Backer received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan, a master of public health degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctor of medicine from the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Backer practiced emergency medicine in private practice for 25 years before entering public service. The doctor served in a number of positions from 2000 to 2008 at the state Department of Health Services, including chief of immunization. He became associate secretary for emergency preparedness at the Health and Human Services Agency in 2008 before being tapped as the interim director at the Department of Public Health early in 2011.

By statute, the EMSA director must be a physician with experience in emergency training.

Reflecting a lifelong interest in wilderness and travel medicine, Dr. Backer is a founding member of the Wilderness Medical Society and a fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He also is medical consultant for an international adventure travel company and is an expert in field water disinfection and infectious diseases of travelers. He still works clinical hours in Urgent Care at the University of California, Berkeley Student Health Center.

Dr. Backer lives in Piedmont with his wife, a registered nurse. They have three children.


EMSA Director’s Web Page (EMSA website)

Secretary Diana Dooley Announces Three Leadership Appointments at the California Health and Human Services Agency (Health and Human Services Agency press release)

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