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James W. Stephens, PhD

Dr. Stephens is a native of Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia where he received a Bachelor of Science in chemistry in 1984. He then attended Rice University in Houston, TX, and earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in chemistry in 1989 studying under Nobel Laureate Robert F. Curl, Jr. Following post-doctoral fellowships at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Morgantown Energy Technology Center, he joined CDC in 1992 as a research chemist at NIOSH in Morgantown, WV. As a researcher he studied the physicochemical properties of respirable particles and fibers which control their pathogenic properties, and developed a novel surface analysis method for the correlated measurement of surface and bulk properties of respirable particles. He also developed new techniques for visualization of highly complex data sets.

In 1999, Dr. Stephens became a Senior Scientist in NIOSH’s Office of the Director in Atlanta, and in 2004 he was appointed as the NIOSH Associate Director for Science (ADS). He worked to develop science quality and peer review standards for NIOSH research, and helped establish a program for internal competition of NIOSH projects for new funding. He also helped coordinate review and quality assurance activities in support of the National Occupational Research Agenda, and helped develop NIOSH’s current framework for stakeholder-based, outcome-oriented goals.

Dr. Stephens has participated in CDC science policy development in areas such as peer review, scientific misconduct, and science awards, and he co-chaired the CDC/ATSDR Extramural Research Working Group which developed recommendations for implementing peer review of extramural research. Dr. Stephens represented NIOSH on the CDC Excellence in Science Committee (EISC), the CDC Research Agenda committee, the Extramural Prevention Research Steering Committee, the CDC Futures Initiative Public Health Research Workgroup, and the CDC Futures Initiative Public Health Research Implementation Team. In 2003 he helped to develop the initial proposal to establish the Office of Public Health Research (OPHR) within the CDC Office of the Chief Science Officer (OCSO). In 2005, he chaired a workgroup that developed the first draft of the CDC Healthy Workplaces Goal.

Dr. Stephens was appointed as the Acting Associate Director for Science, CDC, in July 2006. He continues to be involved in issues of science quality, peer review, and health impact goals. As ADS, he chairs the CDC Excellence in Science Committee, a group which promotes CDC's scientific infrastructure, facilitates communication and collaboration that enhance scientific areas, and advises serves as a consulting body for science-related issues.

Page last reviewed: June 23, 2008
Page last modified: September 25, 2006
Content source: Office of the Chief Science Officer (OCSO)