Acting Director, Office for Laboratory Science and Safety (OLSS)

Victoria Olson, PhD

Office for Laboratory Science and Safety

Victoria Olson, PhD, is the Acting Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety (ADLSS) and Acting Director of the Office of Laboratory Science and Safety (OLSS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She oversees OLSS, which provides high-level oversight and coordination of critical laboratory policies and operations, particularly those associated with laboratory safety and quality management programs at all CDC campuses.

Dr. Olson’s work in laboratory science and safety includes collaborating across the agency to ensure a culture of laboratory quality; training staff in safe investigation of pathogens that pose significant threats to the public’s health; and overseeing international outbreak responses. Most recently, she served as Acting Deputy Director of OLSS and led COVID-19 emergency response laboratory work in the summer of 2020.  When not serving as Acting ADLSS, Dr. Olson is chief of the Poxvirus and Rabies Branch within CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology.

Dr. Olson joined CDC in 2002 as a post-doctoral fellow with the Poxvirus Program. She worked on CDC’s effort to control the 2003 monkeypox outbreak in the US and conducted subsequent work to describe the differentiation of the Congo Basin and West African clades of monkeypox. She was critical to the development of medical countermeasures for smallpox, including the Food and Drug Administration’s review of laboratory tests for variola virus and fundamental studies on treatments and vaccines. She also represented CDC variola virus research to the World Health Organization and worked closely with the Association of Public Health Laboratories on tests to diagnose rabies infection and on orthopoxvirus surveillance. She has conducted laboratory research at multiple biosafety levels (2, 3, and 4), and is a co-author of 88 scientific publications. While Dr. Olson led the Poxvirus and Rabies Branch, it achieved accreditation to the international quality standard ISO 17025.

Dr. Olson earned her bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, and a doctorate degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI.

Page last reviewed: April 30, 2021