Rita K. Noonan, PhD

Rita K. Noonan

Branch Chief, Division of Overdose Prevention


Areas of Expertise

  • Drug overdose prevention strategies
  • Community-level drug overdose prevention
  • Dissemination and implementation science
  • Public health and public safety collaboration
  • Prevention programming and evaluation

Rita Noonan, PhD, is a sociologist and branch chief in CDC’s Division of Overdose Prevention. Dr. Noonan and her staff oversee prevention and evaluation strategies that support CDC’s $1.2B program, Overdose Data to Action (OD2A). OD2A is designed to reduce drug overdose deaths and related harms in the United States by providing funding to 47 states and 16 large city/county health departments to improve public health surveillance, implement evidence-based prevention strategies, and shed light on emerging innovations in the field. Dr. Noonan also works closely with several High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs), overseeing the public health component of the Overdose Response Strategy, a national program she co-created to actively link public health and public safety efforts in every state, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Rita started her career 20 years ago in CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s (NCIPC) Division of Violence Prevention where she specialized in sexual and intimate partner violence prevention, program evaluation, and dissemination and implementation science. Prior to her arrival at CDC, Dr. Noonan was on faculty at the University of Iowa in the sociology department, serving as an expert in gender, Latin American studies, and social movements. Currently, she teaches graduate public health courses at both Emory University and Georgia State University. She has co-authored more than 40 scholarly publications across a broad range of violence and injury topics, including the “Interactive Systems Framework,” which is cited extensively among implementation scientists, and “Evidence-based Strategies for Preventing Opioid Overdose: What’s Working in the United States,” a seminal knowledge translation tool for community practitioners.

Dr. Noonan is the recipient of several prestigious awards including a Fulbright Scholarship, a MacArthur Fellowship, and dozens of NCIPC awards, including the 2017 Director’s Award and the NCIPC Excellence in Public Health Service Career Award in 2019. She received her PhD degree from Indiana University.