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James W. Stephens, PhD

James Stephens, PhD, 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. While at NIOSH he worked on a variety of CDC-wide science activities 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. 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 2006 Dr. Stephens was named as the Acting Associate Director for Science for CDC within the Office of the Chief Science Officer, a role he assumed officially in 2007. In 2010, Dr. Stephens became the Director of the Office of Science Quality (OSQ) within the newly formed Office of the Associate Director for Science. In these roles he has served as an advisor on agency-wide scientific issues and is the senior scientific clearance official for CDC. He chairs the CDC Excellence in Science Committee, a group composed of the national center ADSs which promotes CDC's scientific infrastructure, facilitates communication and collaboration that enhance scientific areas, and serves as a consulting body for science-related issues. OSQ accomplishes its goals through activities focused on supporting scientific leadership, promoting high impact extramural research, ensuring that the best possible science is available to public health departments, partners, and the public, and improving the impact, transparency, quality, and credibility of CDC guidelines and recommendations.

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  • Page last reviewed: July 16, 2014
  • Page last updated: December 3, 2012
  • Content source: Office of the Associate Director for Science The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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