A Walk in the Shadows
Beth P. Bell, MD, MPH
Director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Beth P. Bell, MD, MPH, is the director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID). She provides leadership for the prevention and control of a broad spectrum of infectious diseases, including rare but deadly diseases like Ebola and anthrax, and more common conditions like foodborne diseases and healthcare-associated and antibiotic-resistant infections. In addition, Dr. Bell provides oversight for a diverse portfolio of science-based programs that promote water safety, global health and the health of migrating populations, and the identification and control of diseases transmitted by animals and insects. She is responsible for providing leadership and direction for NCEZID’s world-class laboratories, which are developing new tests, vaccines, and, since the 2014 launch of Advanced Molecular Detection, next-generation sequencing to enable faster diagnosis and more effective prevention and control of infectious diseases.
Since Dr. Bell assumed the position in 2010, she has led NCEZID’s response to several major infectious disease threats, including the largest Ebola epidemic in history affecting multiple countries in West Africa, chikungunya spreading throughout the Americas, a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis that exposed thousands of patients who had received contaminated steroid injections, the second-largest outbreak of West Nile virus disease in the United States, the worst cholera outbreak in recent history that caused more than 8,000 deaths in Haiti, and dozens of outbreaks of foodborne disease that occur each year.
Throughout her tenure at CDC, Dr. Bell has worked in multiple roles requiring medical, public health, scientific, and management expertise. She joined CDC in 1992 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer assigned to the Washington State Department of Health, where she was the lead officer in the seminal investigation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections from contaminated hamburgers. She joined the Hepatitis Branch in the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases and later served as chief of the Epidemiology Branch in the Division of Viral Hepatitis. She then moved on to several center leadership positions, serving as the associate director for epidemiologic science, acting deputy director, and acting director at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Dr. Bell has made numerous contributions in the epidemiology and prevention of viral hepatitis and also held leadership roles during CDC responses to the 2001 anthrax attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. The author/co-author of more than 135 scientific publications, Dr. Bell has received many awards for her work, including the Alexander Langmuir Prize and the Iain Hardy Award.
Dr. Bell received a BA from Brown University, an MD from Yale University, and an MPH from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. She is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Academy of Family Medicine, and the American Academy of Preventive Medicine.