CDC Health Scientist wins 2019 Arthur S. Flemming Award

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Control (CDC) health scientist Duncan R. MacCannell, PhD, has been named a winner of the 2019 Arthur S. Flemming Award.

The 71st annual Arthur S. Flemming Awards recognize federal employees for their exceptional contributions to the nation. Recipients are nominated by their agency, and the winners are chosen based on work performance, leadership, and contributions to society. The award was given in April 2020.

“Duncan MacCannell’s exceptional leadership and continued vision towards advancing pathogen genomics will promote capacity and equity in precision public health,”. said Greg Armstrong, Director of CDC’s Office of Advanced Molecular Detection (OAMD). “His role in establishing the new Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology makes him a well-deserved 2019 Arthur S. Flemming Award awardee.”

MacCannell is OAMD’s chief science officer in CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID). As a technical expert, he leads public health applications of advanced diagnostics, pathogen (meta)genomics, molecular epidemiology, biotechnology, and high-performance computing.

For more than a decade, MacCannell has played a pivotal role in bringing next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics into routine public health practice, first at CDC, and then in the wider United States public health system. Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that combines concepts from biological sciences, mathematics and computer science to create tools for studying and comparing the genetic profiles of organisms.

These transformational and novel technologies are now central to such critical functions as foodborne outbreak detection and influenza surveillance.

In 2019, MacCannell led an effort to extend the impact of these technologies globally by bringing together CDC, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other partners to establish the Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology (PHA4GE), launched at the 2019 Grand Challenges Conference in Addis Ababa. He is currently leading the CDC’s SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing for Public Health Emergency Response, Epidemiology and Surveillance (SPHERES) consortium, a new national genomics partnership that will coordinate SARS-CoV-2 sequencing across the United States.

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