Debbie Dowell, MD, MPH

Debbie Dowell

Chief Medical Officer, Division of Overdose Prevention


Areas of Expertise

  • Opioid overdose prevention
  • Opioid prescribing

Debbie Dowell, MD, MPH, is Chief Medical Officer for the Division of Overdose Prevention (DOP) at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Previously, as Chief Medical Officer for CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Dr. Dowell led the development of the CDC strategy to prevent opioid overdoses. She also served as Chief Medical Officer for CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, led CDC’s Prescription Drug Overdose Team, and served as an advisor to New York City’s health commissioner.

In addition, she has conducted research on quality and safety in medical care, the effects of clinical guidelines, and the effectiveness of interventions to prevent opioid overdose. She is the lead author of the 2022 CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain and the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. She served in various roles in CDC’s COVID-19 Response from February 2020 through April 2022, including as Medical Director of the CDC’s COVID-19 Call Center, Associate Editor of CDC’s COVID-19 Science Update, and as Chief Medical Officer for CDC’s COVID-19 Response.

Dr. Dowell completed her residency and chief residency in Primary Care Internal Medicine at Bellevue Hospital Center and the NYU School of Medicine, where she joined the faculty as a clinical assistant professor. She served as an attending physician, caring for patients, teaching and supervising medical students and residents at NYU and a community health center in New York City.

Dr. Dowell is board certified in Internal Medicine. She received BA and MD degrees from Columbia University and an MPH degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also a graduate of CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS).