Dr. Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH

Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO)
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Dr Ruth Petersen

Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH serves as the Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO). The Division provides national leadership on nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention through policy and guideline development, surveillance, epidemiological and behavioral research, and technical assistance to states and communities. Dr. Petersen has a breadth of experience and leadership from multiple settings including health care, local and state health departments, national advisory groups, academic settings, the private sector, and global health platforms. Her broad, deep and diverse experience with populations and partners and stakeholders are strong assets for leading DNPAO in its focused efforts to prevent chronic diseases through population-wide public health initiatives and health system innovations.

Prior to CDC, Dr. Petersen led the Chronic Disease and Injury section of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. In this capacity, she provided exemplary leadership of the state’s programs supporting CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work, Community Transformation Grants, and Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Similarly, at the national level, she made significant contributions through her leadership on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors.

Dr. Petersen received her MD and MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After training in obstetrics and gynecology in Rochester, New York, she completed the UNC Preventive Medicine Residency and a post-doctoral fellowship in health services research. Throughout her career, she has drawn on this expertise to develop and guide research, policy, and programs to improve health behaviors and reduce chronic disease.

Page last reviewed: February 7, 2018