Sally C. Morton, dean of the Virginia Tech College of Science, has been appointed to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) National Advisory Council.

AHRQ is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the lead agency responsible for improving the safety and quality of the country’s health care system. AHRQ brings together knowledge, tools, and data intended to help policymakers, health care professionals, and patients make informed decisions about their health.

“This is an organization that promotes using information and data to help people make better decisions about health care,” said Morton, also a professor with the Department of Statistics, part of the College of Science. “I’ve worked my entire career to support those tenets, and to be recognized as an expert is humbling.”

Morton has previously been involved in several National Academy of Medicine committees, as well as other national committees in public policy, including the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Methodology Committee, the Census Scientific Advisory Committee, and the Committee on National Statistics.

At AHRQ, she will join nine other new members on the National Advisory Council, including experts from the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, the Colorado School of Public Health, Magellan Healthcare, Stanford University School of Medicine, the University of Colorado Cancer Center, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Before coming to Virginia Tech as dean, Morton led the Department of Biostatistics in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. 

AHRQ reports that its research and tools helped the U.S. health care system prevent 1.3 million errors, save 50,000 lives, and avoid $12 billion in wasteful spending from 2010 to 2013. The agency in coming years plans to take on some of the U.S. health system’s most pervasive problems: antibiotic overuse, improving care for people with multiple chronic conditions, and discovering how to better provide opioid addiction treatment services in rural areas.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to join AHRQ’s National Advisory Council to enhance the quality and safety of health care services,” Morton said. “It’s an honor to serve the country in a role that can lead to improving the nation’s health.”

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