Melissa Perry, ScD, MHS, chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, has been appointed by US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell to chair the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I am honored to serve as the chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for two agencies whose work is essential to safeguarding public health,” said Perry. “With environmental challenges from climate change to oil and chemical spills affecting so many people in the US and worldwide, the work of NCEH and ATSDR is crucially important.”
Perry, an epidemiologist, has spent the past two decades studying relationships between environmental exposures and health conditions, from lacerations among meatpacking workers to sperm abnormalities related to organochlorine chemicals. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and is the current president of the American College of Epidemiology.
The National Center for Environmental Health works to prevent disability, disease, and death due to environmental factors, while the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry addresses the effects of hazardous substances in the environment. The Board of Scientific Counselors has 17 members, including the chair, who collaborate to provide guidance to these agencies’ directors regarding program goals, objectives, strategies, and priorities. It was originally established in 1962, making it one of the agency’s oldest advisory committees.
“The Board of Scientific Counselors not only contributes to the scientific quality of NCEH and ATSDR’s work; it also helps assure that these agencies work effectively with their various constituents,” explained Perry. “We learn more every day about how pollutants and contaminants can affect our wellbeing, and the goal is to use that information to address hazards promptly and protect public health.”