The Johns Hopkins Gazette: November 5, 2001
November 5, 2001
VOL. 31, NO. 10


Henderson To Head New U.S. Office of Public Health Preparedness

O'Toole named director of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies

By Tim Parsons
Bloomberg School of Public Health

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on Nov. 1 named Donald A. Henderson to serve as director of the newly created Office of Public Health Preparedness, which will coordinate the response by all HHS agencies to public health emergencies.

Henderson was the founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at the Bloomberg School of Public Health (see story). He also served as dean of the school from 1977 to 1990 and he directed the World Health Organization's global smallpox eradication campaign from 1966 to 1977.

In his new position, he will work with all agencies within the HHS to enhance the response to the anthrax attacks, as well as any possible incidents in the future. He will report directly to Thompson. In addition, Henderson will continue to head a national advisory council on public health preparedness, to which he was appointed in October.

"Dr. Henderson brings a lifetime of preparation for the demands of this job, and we are fortunate to have him join the department on a full-time basis," Thompson said. "His distinguished record speaks for itself, and his expertise will only improve the excellent job the public health system is doing at the local, state and federal levels."

Tara O'Toole, who has served as deputy director of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, will replace Henderson as director.

In addition, Thomas V. Inglesby, an assistant professor in the School of Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases, was promoted from senior fellow to deputy director of the center.

"Tara O'Toole helped make the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies a scientific leader in the critical area of public health preparedness," says Alfred Sommer, dean of the School of Public Health. "As the new director, she will continue the important work of fostering policy to thwart the use and minimize the threat of biological weapons."

In 1993, O'Toole was nominated by President Clinton to be assistant secretary of energy for environment safety and health and served in this position until 1997. Previously, she was a senior analyst at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, where she directed and participated in studies of health impacts on workers and the public due to environmental pollution resulting from nuclear weapons production, among other projects. O'Toole is a board-certified internist and occupational medicine physician with clinical experience in academic settings and community health centers.

Secretary Thompson also appointed Phillip Russell as a special adviser on vaccine development and production at HHS. Russell is a professor at the Center for Immunization Research at the School of Public Health and has a joint appointment in the school's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.

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