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About Us

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recognized as the lead federal agency for protecting the health and safety of people – at home and abroad, providing credible information to enhance health decisions.  CDC’s mission is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. 

One of CDC’s strengths that allows for the accomplishment of this mission is the development of prevention strategies that are based on sound scientific knowledge.  Excellence in science is a strategic imperative at CDC.  This imperative mandates that we practice evidence-based science grounded in sound peer-reviewed research and that we assure a strong science base for public health action.

The Chief Science Officer (CSO) is the primary advisor to the CDC Director on scientific and medical matters and provides agency-wide scientific leadership.  The CSO directs the Office of the Chief Science Officer (OCSO), which provides the agency with scientific vision and leadership in science innovation, research, ethics, and science administration. 

The Office is responsible for developing policies and procedures to ensure that integrity and excellence in science are maintained.  The Office articulates and enforces standards of ethical, equitable, and respectful conduct of all CDC enterprises.


The Office provides the agency with scientific vision and leadership in science innovation, research, ethics, and science administration.  It ensures continuity and commitment to long-term scientific investments to enable the achievement of CDC’s overarching health protection goals, both nationally and globally. 

The Office upholds scientific ideals, establishes an environment thriving with scientific excellence, innovation and integrity, learning and discovery, and upholds the timely dissemination and translation into practice of scientific information, innovations, and technology.


OCSO Organizational Chart Popovic Stephens Lee Murphy

The Chief Science Officer and staff provide CDC with scientific vision and leadership in science innovation, research, ethics, and science administration.  Activities in support of the mission include: 

(1) Ensures stability and commitment to long-term scientific investments as the basis for achieving CDC’s overarching health protection goals;

(2) Provides coordination for the agency’s public health research program, both for intramural and extramural research activities;

(3) Upholds scientific ideals, establishes an environment thriving with scientific excellence, innovation, integrity, learning and discovery, and timely dissemination and translation into practice of scientific information, innovations, and technology with the ultimate goal of improving public health;

(4) Facilitates developing strategic and trans-disciplinary approaches for long-term planning and evaluation of CDC’s scientific enterprise and ensuring sustainability of CDC’s scientific output, establishing and sustaining high-level national and global alliances and synergy, and a coordinated approach to providing science matters and represents CDC in these areas to the Department of Health and Human Services, other agencies, and Congress;

(5) Develops and disseminates scientific policies for CDC;

(6) Maintains the integrity and productivity of CDC’s scientists by resolving controversial scientific issues, supporting training and information exchange, and providing direction on matters of scientific integrity and public health ethics;

(7) Assures the protection of human subjects and animals in public health research and participates in national and international initiatives in public health protection;

(8) Manages CDC’s intellectual property (e.g., patents, trademarks, and copyrights) and promotes the transfer of new technology from CDC research to the private sector to facilitate and enhance the development of diagnostic products, vaccines, and products to improve occupational safety;

(9) Manages the confidentiality function for sensitive research data;

(10) Facilitates the agency responses to the Privacy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Office of Public Health Research (OPHR):  CDC has a public trust to use research dollars where they will have the maximum impact on public health.  Good management of research involves three key steps:

(1) Identification of research priorities;

(2) Translation of these priorities into a balanced portfolio of intramural and extramural research;

(3) Evaluation of research programs and outcomes. 

In addition, a fourth step is implied, which is the incorporation of lessons learned from evaluation into future prioritization and research.  OPHR facilitates research prioritization, planning, and evaluation across both intramural and extramural programs. OPHR ensures the CDC research portfolio is designed for maximum impact on public health and is achieving the desired ends.

Office of Scientific Regulatory Services (OSRS): 

Oversight for federally mandated regulatory activities is located in the Office of Scientific Regulatory Services (OSRS) at CDC which provides guidance and assistance to all CDC programs. There are three offices within OSRS in addition to several other regulatory functions:

The Human Research Protection Office (HRPO) leads the agency in protecting the rights and welfare of human beings who participate in research. HRPO coordinates CDC's institutional review boards (IRBs), exemptions from human subjects research, and joint review arrangements with research partners.

The Information Collection Review Office (ICRO) (formerly OMB PRA activities) ensures that federal agencies do not overburden the public with requests for federally sponsored data collections according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). ICRO also works with CDC National Centers and other federal agencies to protect the privacy of individuals when records are maintained by a federal agency by applying the Privacy Act as required.

The Animal Care and Use Program Office (ACUPO) is responsible for ensuring compliance with federal laws and principles in the care and use of laboratory animals at CDC. ACUPO works closely with the CDC Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), the CDC Animal Resources Branch, the CDC Scientific Resources Program, and with individual investigators.

OSRS is also responsible for providing technical assistance on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule which regulates the use and disclosure of protected health information by covered entities and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which regulates the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in an education (school) record. In addition, OSRS issues Assurances of Confidentiality and Certificates of Confidentiality which protect against compulsory legal disclosure of sensitive data and an individual’s personal information.

Technology Transfer Office (TTO):  Technology transfer is a central agency function that is directly in line with CDC’s Future Initiative.  TTO is primary window to the business community regionally, nationally, and internationally and facilitates productive interactions with the public health, life sciences, and occupational safety and health industries. 

Technology transfer provides leadership and expertise in the promotion and timely transfer of knowledge and technology for development of products and processes that improve public health.

Immunization Safety Office (ISO):  As a leader in immunization safety research and surveillance, CDC plays a vital role in assuring vaccine safety.  Sound immunization policies and recommendations affecting the health of our nation depend upon continuous monitoring of vaccines and ongoing assessment of immunization benefits and risks. 

While serious vaccine side effects are rare, it is difficult to detect them even with the well-designed large clinical trials that are conducted on vaccines before they are licensed.  Therefore, monitoring of adverse events after vaccines are licensed is essential.  Using a multi-faceted approach, the Immunization Safety Office identifies possible vaccine side effects, and conducts studies to determine whether a particular adverse event is caused by a specific vaccine.



Page last reviewed: June 23, 2008
Page last modified: September 3, 2008
Content source: Office of the Chief Science Officer (OCSO)