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Daniel M. Sosin, MD, MPH, FACP
Deputy Director and Chief Medical Officer, Office of Public Health
Preparedness and Response (PHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC)
University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics
Yale University School of Medicine
Daniel Sosin, MD, MPH, FACP is Deputy Director and Chief Medical
Officer of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
(PHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His
medical career spans 28 years with the CDC and includes 14
concurrent years as an attending physician at Grady Hospital in
Atlanta and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory
University. He holds the rank of retired Captain, U.S. Public
Health Service, is board certified in preventive medicine and
internal medicine, has a master's degree in epidemiology, and is
the lead author and co-author of more than 50 articles published in
Despite his credentials and impressive career as a public health
physician, Dr. Sosin is still asked on occasion by one of his
curious relatives, "Dan, when are you going back to being a real
Dr. Sosin laughs good-naturedly at the suggestion he is not a
"real" doctor. These days, he may not have a stethoscope or
prescription pad in his pocket, but he and his associates at the
CDC do have a sizeable patient load. Charged with maintaining the
health of the communities we live in, the CDC and its cadre of
epidemiologists, medical officers, and scientific advisors are
responsible for measuring the pulse of the nation's health. Like
internists, they are disease detectives, relying on science,
investigation, and evidence to discover what makes people sick and
the most effective ways to prevent it.
As a medical student at Yale University School of Medicine, Dr.
Sosin found himself drawn to internal medicine because internists
were considered the "brainy docs." "That appealed to me," laughs
Dr. Sosin, "I enjoyed the challenge of piecing together a
thoughtful history and using diagnostic skills to solve clinical
While completing his internal medicine residency at the
University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics, his advisor, Dr.
Pierce Gardner, an infectious disease specialist who had previously
worked for the CDC, encouraged him to pursue a CDC Fellowship
program. And the rest as they say, is a 28-year career in the field
of public health.
Data and the promise of Electronic Health Records
"What drew me to the CDC, is what drew me to internal medicine,"
says Dr. Sosin, "they are both data-driven health disciplines." A
passionate advocate for the advancement of EHR, Dr. Sosin wants
more resources dedicated to improving the nation's management of
knowledge and technology. "Gathering and understanding data," he
insists, "is the most vital piece of the health care puzzle,
essential to both clinical practitioners and public health
His reasoning is both thorough and thoughtful, "As physicians,
we are entrusted by individuals or communities to make the best use
of information and resources available to mitigate the impact of
disease and injury to allow people to make the most of their lives.
To do this, we are expected to know the medical literature and
understand our patients/communities health status and needs,
interpret findings of a careful work-up against an enormous
backdrop of possibilities, and then select the best and effective
treatment. Sometimes, we only have a small window of time to make
those decisions and present options to our patients. If we are to
provide the best patient care possible," says Dr. Sosin, "we must
effectively collect data and manage information."
Dr. Sosin understands the transition to EHR has been painful,
but he insists there's no better way to manage information. "When
16 different hospitals in a region see common symptoms in many
patients," says Dr. Sosin, "it can take days to become aware of
that, but with further development and more effective use of EHR we
will spot health trends much faster."
Variety, the spice of public health
Dr. Sosin began his CDC career in 1986 as an Epidemic
Intelligence Service (EIS) officer assigned to Kentucky where there
was no acting director of epidemiology in place. He adapted
quickly, learning a great deal about epidemiology along the way
while fielding calls, collecting data, and preparing reports on
rabies and other bites, food-borne outbreaks, hospital infections,
and HIV. "I discovered I loved what I was doing," he says, "the
diversity and complexity of issues and the satisfaction of solving
problems and providing system solutions was exciting."
After completing a CDC Preventive Medicine residency, Dr. Sosin
earned his M.P.H. in Epidemiology from the University of Washington
School of Public Health, and over the years he has continually
sought and received new challenges and greater supervisory
responsibilities. He has applied his knowledge and skills to a wide
range of activities, from conducting scientific investigations of
traumatic brain injury, including research into helmet laws and
injuries at playgrounds, to serving on emergency deployment teams,
providing support and coordinating resources in response to health
threats posed by H1N1 Influenza, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and
the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti.
In 2009, Dr. Sosin was assigned acting Director of the
Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency
Response (COTPER), and prior to that served as COTPER's Senior
Advisor for Science and Public Health Practice and Director for the
Biosurveillance Coordination Unit.
His unique career is essentially a blend of multiple careers in
the fields of science (employing his training in medicine,
epidemiology, statistics, and informatics), management (supervising
hundreds of personnel and billion-dollar budgets), and leadership
(developing strategy and policies, and serving as an advisor to CDC
Directors, Congress, the White House, federal, state, and local
governments, and federal agencies like Homeland Security and the
Pearls of wisdom
Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, the second of four
children, Dr. Sosin was greatly influenced by his father, a
pediatrician. "My dad was that old-fashioned kind of doctor who
spent a lot of time with his patients," says Dr. Sosin. His father,
however, did not encourage his children to become doctors. "My dad
certainly had a significant influence on me, especially my drive to
excel academically," says Dr. Sosin, "but he saw changes that were
making medicine harder to practice and an environment that was
shifting from doctors focusing on patients to doctors focusing on
business practices and insurance."
In addition to his father, Dr. Sosin credits his wife Jacalyn, a
social worker, for adding depth and dimension to his life. "Jacalyn
has helped me to evolve as a friend, parent, member of the
community and to recognize the power and strength of being present
and connecting with others." The couple has two children. Their
daughter, Abby, 27, completed her master's degree in museum studies
and lives/works in her field in New York City, and their son, Noah,
25, is taking a year to travel before starting graduate school;
after which, he plans to pursue a career in environmental health
and urban planning.
Dr. Sosin admits he is not a person who likes to relax. "I've
always been a person driven to work," he says. At home, he relaxes
by working around the house, doing remodeling projects and yard
work, and refinishing furniture. He loves being outdoors and since
his son was eleven years old, the two have done an annual back
country camping trip.
In addition to his family, Dr. Sosin says he has been inspired
by many of the amazing people he has worked with at the CDC. One of
the most memorable is Dr. William Foege, a former CDC director who
served under two U.S. presidents. An epidemiologist and medical
missionary, Dr. Foege dedicated more than four decades to a career
in public health including his work for the CDC, Carter Center, and
Gates Foundation. "I met Bill when he was Chair of the Federal
Advisory Committee for Injury Prevention and Control," says Dr.
Sosin. "He was never in a hurry, always generous with his time, and
would share inspiring stories and pearls of leadership, some of
which I keep posted in my office and still refer to."
If Dr. Sosin could pass along some of his own pearls of wisdom
to medical students, the list would include: Be clear about why
you entered medicine and remember that it is a privileged career;
it's a tumultuous world, but keep at it, there are so many ways to
leverage a medical education; don't be impatient; find mentors who
inspire you; be open to opportunities that appear; and learn to
work effectively in teams, because whether you are taking care of
the health of communities or individuals it's a critical skill that
will serve you well.
"Overall, what I have found most appealing about being a public
health physician and the field of epidemiology," says Dr. Sosin,
"is the variety of the work, the room to develop professionally,
the room to ask a good question and the liberty to follow up with
investigation and scientific discovery to find the best answer." A
member of ACP since 1989, Dr. Sosin regards ACP's commitment to
lifelong learning essential and is proud to have the FACP
designation behind his name.
"Learning new things and staying on the steep part of the
learning curve," says Dr. Sosin, "is where I find the most reward
and excitement." Spoken like a true internist, epidemiologist, and
"brainy doc," Dr. Sosin's words make it clear he is without a doubt
a "real" doctor.
March 2015 Issue of IMpact
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