Walker - Leadership
David Walker, MPH, BA
Senior Advisor for Data Management
Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance
Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services
Deputy Director for Public Health Science and Surveillance
“Public health staff must focus on providing effective and efficient program-related services, without focusing on the ego facades of personal glory or chasing IT fads.”
David Walker, MPH, BA; senior advisor for data management, Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance; began his public health career in 1985 and specializes in analytical data management and analyses of healthcare services data for public health outbreak detection, response, and program management. He has been with CDC since 1997 and has worked in various positions providing technical support and management of processes that augment traditional public health surveillance with novel data sources and novel analytical techniques.
Mr. Walker began his public health career in 1985 at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, employed as a statistical analyst, using clinical care databases for program management and decision support. In 1995, he took a position as a research associate with the University of Colorado, Center for Health Policy Research, using patient data (collected via Epi Info!) for analyzing outcomes in home healthcare services provided by more than 300 agencies.
Mr. Walker came to CDC/National Immunization Program in 1997, first working as a health scientist, then as the deputy branch chief, in the Data Management Division’s Statistical Analysis Branch. In these positions, he coordinated the use of Medicaid, Vaccine Safety Datalink, and Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data for studies of immunization coverage and vaccine safety. In 2002–2003, he developed and coordinated situation awareness reporting for the National Smallpox Vaccination Program, integrating data from vaccine distribution, immunization records, and VAERS.
In 2003, Mr. Walker became director of operations for the BioSense program in the former National Center for Public Health Informatics, coordinating the rollout operations of the BioSense interface to state/local health departments and serving as liaison to CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). These duties included consulting with state/local health departments on their outbreak detection and response needs, consulting with other federal agencies on integration of data to support outbreak detection, advising on data quality assurance and analytical processes in clinical encounter data, and implementing the Situation Awareness Unit in the EOC for pandemic flu exercises.
In 2007, Mr. Walker became the associate director of operations for the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases’ Office of Critical Information Integration and Exchange, developing and operating public health “fusion center” monitoring and reporting and leading the process to produce daily reports summarizing local, national, and international public health events of concern. In 2009, he moved to the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)’s Informatics Office, serving as data management lead and acting deputy director and supporting the data management and data quality assurance needs of NCIRD and the H1N1 Influenza Task Force.
In 2012, Mr. Walker served as branch chief of the newly formed Analytic Tools and Methods Branch; Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS); initiating the Analytic Data Management Unit to provide data acquisition and analytical support of external clinical data sources (CMS, HCUP, AHA) for CDC-wide use as well as coordinating ongoing activities of the Epi Info Team and the Population Health Metrics Team.
In 2014, as a result of the CSELS reorganization, Mr. Walker became the branch chief of the Surveillance and Data Branch, DHIS, and served in this role until 2018. He was responsible for data management, data quality assurance, and data analysis of the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) and the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP), as well as responsible for dissemination of CDC program data through the CDC WONDER system. In this role, he coordinated the efforts of the staff that define surveillance specifications for system implementation; monitor the timeliness, completeness, and validity of inbound data; prepare data for public health users at the federal, state, and local level; and disseminate data and reports to the general public.
In 2018, Mr. Walker became the senior advisor for data management in DHIS. In this role, he provides operational guidance to DHIS activities that access, collect, manage, analyze, and visualize data from the wide variety of data sources that public health scientists and program managers require for scientific analysis and program decision support. He works in close collaboration with the DHIS associate director for science, associate director for surveillance, and NSSP and NNDSS program managers to ensure that all projects within DHIS have the appropriate attention on data management and analysis to meet end users’ needs for timely, accurate, and meaningful data analysis results. He provides advice and guidance to DHIS program staff on the development of funding proposals, strategic plans, position descriptions, and statements of work to effectively acquire, manage, and analyze data hosted within DHIS.
For the CDC coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response, Mr. Walker served several roles for the Joint Coordination Cell’s Data Strategy and Execution Workgroup, including serving as the co-lead of the Data and Products Team and as the syndromic surveillance product owner. In these roles, he collaborated with CDC programs and other federal agencies, including the United States Digital Services and the HHS/Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, for the acquisition, management, and analysis of the wide spectrum of data sources used to support response efforts. In addition, early in the response, Mr. Walker coordinated the acquisition of COVID-19 lab test data for six large commercial health labs, working with the NSSP and CDC Data Hub staff to facilitate data receipt and processing into the BioSense Platform Analytic Data Mart.
Mr. Walker has an M.P.H. in biostatistics from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma. He currently lives in Peachtree City with his wife and pets. In his spare time, he enjoys bicycle touring, skiing, traveling, roaming the woods with his dog, and genealogical research and is an avid reader of historical biographies.