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November 2, 2001


Tara O'Toole Named New Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson named Donald A. Henderson, MD, MPH, 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.

Dr. Henderson was the founding director of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 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 the Secretary. In addition, Dr. Henderson will continue to head a national advisory council on public health preparedness, which he was appointed to 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," Secretary 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, MD, MPH, who has served as deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, will replace Dr. Henderson as director of the Center.

"D.A Henderson is one of the world's premier leaders in public health. He is an excellent choice to head our nation's public health response to bioterrorism," says Alfred Sommer, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"For the past several years, Tara O'Toole helped make the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies a scientific leader in the critical area of public health preparedness. As the new director of the Center, she will continue the important work of fostering policy to thwart the use and minimize the threat of biological weapons," adds Dr. Sommer.

In addition to her duties as director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, Dr. O'Toole is a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management. She is also a member of the Defense Science Board summer panel on biodefense technologies, and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene steering group on public health response to weapons of mass destruction events, among other advisory and consultative positions related to bioterrorism preparedness.

In 1993, Dr. 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. As Assistant Secretary, Dr. O'Toole managed a staff of 400 professionals and an annual budget of approximately $200 million. She served as principal advisor to the Secretary of Energy on matters pertaining to protecting the environment, workers, and public from Department of Energy operations. During her tenure, Dr. O'Toole conducted four major "Vulnerability Studies" that identified major safety and environmental hazards at the nation's nuclear weapons complex and focused resources on the most serious threats; established the Department's first nuclear safety rules and professional enforcement office; and led a multi-agency, multimillion dollar task force that oversaw the government's investigations into human radiation experiments conducted during the Cold War.

From 1989 to 1993, Dr. O'Toole was a senior analyst at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) 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. She has served as a consultant to industry and government in matters related to occupational and environmental health, worker participation in workplace safety protection, and organizational change. Dr. O'Toole is a board-certified internist and occupational medicine physician with clinical experience in academic settings and community health centers.

In addition to Dr. O'Toole's announcement, Thomas V. Inglesby, MD, was promoted from senior fellow to deputy-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies. Dr. Inglesby is a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he is an assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and on the medical staff at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has served in a number of advisory and consultative capacities to federal and state agencies on issues related to bioterrorism preparedness. Dr. Inglesby also was a principal designer, author, and controller of the "Dark Winter Exercise" of June 2001. He was the first author of the articles "Anthrax as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management" and "Plague as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Consequences," both published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), as well as a principal author of "Smallpox as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management," also appearing in JAMA.

Secretary Thompson also appointed Phillip Russell, MD, as a special advisor on vaccine development and production at HHS. Dr. Russell is a professor at the Center for Immunization Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and has a joint appointment in the School's Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology.