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Statement by Secretary Napolitano on President Obama’s Intent to Nominate Tara O’Toole as Under Secretary for Science and Technology

Release Date: 
May 7, 2009

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

“I am proud to announce President Obama’s intent to nominate Dr. Tara O’Toole as Under Secretary for the Science and Technology Directorate. Dr. O’Toole is an expert on environmental protection and biosecurity, and brings critical experience in health, safety and technology to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Dr. O’Toole comes to DHS as the founder of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she currently serves CEO and Director. She has published extensively in the biodefense field, focusing on response to biological attacks, containment of contagious diseases and hospital preparedness. Throughout her career, she has worked in leadership posts both in government and the private sector,” said Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Biography

Prior to leading the Center for Biosecurity, Dr. O’Toole was a founding member of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, serving as its director from 2001-2003. She is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice and Science and was a principal author and producer of Dark Winter, an influential exercise conducted in 2001 to alert national leaders to the dangers of bioterrorist attacks.

Dr. O’Toole served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health from 1993-1997, where she was principal advisor to the Secretary of Energy on environmental protection and oversaw health and safety for approximately 100,000 workers in government laboratories. In this position, Dr. O’Toole developed the first overall management and safety plan for dealing with waste left from nuclear weapons production.

Prior to joining DOE, Dr. O’Toole served as a Senior Analyst at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment from 1989-1993, where she directed studies on the health impact of pollution resulting from nuclear weapons production, among other projects. Previously, she practiced internal medicine in Baltimore community health centers from 1984-1988. Dr. O’Toole holds an M.D. from George Washington University, an M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from Vassar College.

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