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Coates - Leadership

Photo: Ralph J. Coates

Ralph J. Coates

Associate Director for Science

Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance

Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services

Office of Public Health Scientific Services

Ralph J. Coates, PhD, is associate director for science in the Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance (DHIS). In this role, he serves as one of CDC's lead scientists in advancing the science and practice of public health surveillance and informatics for more effective and efficient public health decision-making and action.

Previously, Dr. Coates served as acting associate director for science in the Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office (PHSIPO). Dr. Coates also served as associate director for science for PHSIPO's Division of Notifiable Diseases and Healthcare Information.

From 1987–1995, Dr. Coates was a faculty member at Emory University, where he conducted research in cancer and in nutrition, taught in the School of Public Health and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, became a tenured associate professor in epidemiology and was co-director of the Nutrition and Health Sciences Program. He is now an adjunct professor in epidemiology.

He joined CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control in 1995. Here, he conducted public health research and program activities in cancer prevention, primarily in promoting the use of evidence-based cancer screening services, and was the division’s associate director for science from 2000–2007.

During 2007–2011, Dr. Coates was associate director for science in the Office of Public Health Genomics. He was engaged in evaluations of the validity and utility of new genomic tests for common diseases and promoted the responsible translation of genomics into public health and clinical practice.

He is the author or co-author of more than 140 peer-reviewed journal articles and 45 other publications and has presented at numerous national and international meetings.

Dr. Coates has served as a CDC representative to the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum and to the Roundtable on Translating Genomics Research for Health. In addition, he has served on committees and workgroups of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Agency for Research on Cancer, President's Cancer Panel, and Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative. 

Dr. Coates received his AB from Harvard in 1971 and completed his PhD in epidemiology in 1986 at the University of Washington while working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.