Melissa T. Merrick, PhD

Melissa Merrick

Senior Epidemiologist, Surveillance Branch, Division of Violence Prevention


Areas of Expertise

  • Child abuse and neglect prevention
  • Adverse childhood experiences

Melissa T. Merrick, PhD, is a Senior Epidemiologist with the Surveillance Branch in the Division of Violence Prevention at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Her major research interests focus on the etiology, surveillance, course, and prevention of child maltreatment. Much of her work examines safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments, as they relate to the primary prevention of early adversity, and examining the effects of adverse childhood experiences throughout the lifespan and across generations.  Dr. Merrick leverages her clinical and research experiences to effectively communicate and disseminate the critical public health importance of preventing early adversity to key stakeholders, congressional audiences and policymakers, and community members and professionals with diverse priorities, backgrounds, and knowledge.

Dr. Merrick serves as the Science Lead for the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, in partnership with the HHS Office of Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) at the Children’s Bureau (CB).  Dr. Merrick is working with CB and multiple other federal partners to integrate the primary prevention of early adversity into the child welfare system. She also chairs CDC’s Mental Health Workgroup.

Dr. Merrick graduated magna cum laude with a BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and then completed a two-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Training Award Fellowship at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the Section on Social and Emotional Development. Dr. Merrick received her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, where she served as a program coordinator for the San Diego site of the Longitudinal Studies on Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) consortium. Prior to joining CDC, Dr. Merrick was an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellow with the University of Miami Child Protection Team (CPT), involved in a multisite program of research that examined child maltreatment risk and protective factors in families evaluated by CPTs across the state of Florida.