Peggy Honein, PhD, MPH
Director, Division of Birth Defects and Infant Disorders

Peggy Honein

Margaret (Peggy) Honein, PhD, MPH, is an epidemiologist and Director of the Division of Birth Defects and Infant Disorders at CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. In this role, Dr. Honein oversees efforts to promote healthy birth and optimal development for all children. She previously served as the Chief of CDC’s Birth Defects Branch.

Dr. Honein received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of California, Riverside in 1986, her Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1992, and her PhD in Epidemiology from UCLA in 1995, and joined CDC as an Epidemiologic Intelligence (EIS) officer in 1997.  She completed her doctoral dissertation research on HIV among tuberculosis patients in the East African country Djibouti.

Dr. Honein served as the co-lead for the Pregnancy and Birth Defects Task Force throughout over 20 months of CDC’s Emergency Zika Response in 2016/17; in this capacity, she developed and directed work to advance understanding of and mitigate the impact of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.  Dr. Honein also served as the Epidemiology Lead for the Maternal Health team during the 2009/10 Influenza Pandemic Response, a critical component of CDC’s efforts to protect the health of pregnant women and infants.

Dr. Honein has published over 150 scientific papers in the field of birth defects, and her research interests include understanding the role of smoking in birth defects, assessing the safety or risk of medication use and vaccine use during pregnancy, identifying congenital infections with adverse neonatal and infant outcomes, and understanding longer term outcomes and costs associated with congenital heart defects and other birth defects. She has extensively mentored junior scientists at CDC, including EIS officers, ORISE fellows, graduate students (MPH and PhD level), CDC experience fellows, and medical students over the past 21 years.