David Michaels (epidemiologist)

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David Michaels
Dr. David Michaels.jpg
Former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
In office
December 8, 2009 – January 10, 2017
Preceded byJordan Barab (acting)
Succeeded byDorothy Dougherty (acting)
Personal details
Born (1954-10-11) October 11, 1954 (age 64)
New York, New York

David Michaels is an epidemiologist and Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) at the Milken Institute School of Public Health of the George Washington University.

Until January 2017, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Michaels began serving in the post in December 2009 as OSHA’s 12th Assistant Secretary. He is the longest serving Assistant Secretary in OSHA's history.

Education and early life

Michaels graduated from the City College of New York, and holds a Master in Public Health (MPH) and PhD from Columbia University, in New York City. Before joining the faculty at the George Washington University, he previously taught at the CUNY School of Medicine at the City University of New York and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.


As Assistant Secretary, Michaels worked to strengthen the agency's enforcement in high risk industries, improve OSHA's whistleblower protection program, promote common sense worker protection programs and standards, expand compliance assistance provided to small employers, and increase outreach to the vulnerable populations who are at greatest risk for work-related injury and illness. He also increased OSHA's focus and capabilities in the areas of data analysis and program evaluation.

Michaels served as the United States Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health from 1998 through January 2001. In this position, he had primary responsibility for protecting the health and safety of workers, the neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation's nuclear weapons facilities. Michaels developed the initiative to compensate workers in the nuclear weapons complex who developed cancer or lung disease as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium, silica, or other hazards. That initiative resulted in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, which has provided over $13 billion in benefits to sick workers and the families of deceased workers since its inception in 2001.

Michaels has written extensively on issues related to the integrity of scientific information that serves as the basis of public health and environmental regulation,[1][2][3][4] and is the author of Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health (Oxford University Press, 2008). His studies and articles have been published in Science, JAMA, Scientific American, the International Journal of Epidemiology, the American Journal of Public Health and other scientific journals.

During the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Michaels developed a widely used mathematical model to estimate the number of children orphaned by the disease.[5] In addition, while employed at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY, he helped found and directed the Epidemiology Unit at the Montefiore-Rikers Island Health Service, the first such unit at a jail in the United States.


In February 2006, Michaels was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.[6] He has also received the American Public Health Association's David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health,[7] the 2009 John P. McGovern Science and Society Award of Sigma Xi,[8] and the US Department of Energy's Meritorious Service Award.

Personal life

Michaels is the son of journalist Ruth Gruber.


  • Michaels, David (2008). Doubt is Their Product: How industry's assault on science threatens your health. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530067-3.

See also


  1. ^ Michaels D, Monforton C; Monforton (2005). "Manufacturing uncertainty: contested science and the protection of the public's health and environment". Am J Public Health. 95 (Suppl 1): S39–48. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.043059. PMID 16030337. As PDF.
  2. ^ Michaels D, Bingham E, Boden L, et al. (October 2002). "Advice without dissent". Science. 298 (5594): 703. doi:10.1126/science.298.5594.703. PMID 12399550.
  3. ^ Michaels D, Wagner W; Wagner (December 2003). "Science and government. Disclosure in regulatory science". Science. 302 (5653): 2073. doi:10.1126/science.1093718. PMID 14684806.
  4. ^ Wagner, Wendy; Michaels, David (2004). "Equal Treatment for Regulatory Science: Extending the Controls Governing the Quality of Public Research to Private Research". Am J Law Med. 30: 119–154.
  5. ^ Michaels, David; Levine, Carol (Dec 23, 1992). "Estimates of the number of motherless youth orphaned by AIDS in the United States". JAMA. 268 (24): 3456–61. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490240064038. PMID 1460736.
  6. ^ http://www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/awards/freedom/freedom2005.shtml
  7. ^ https://www.apha.org/about-apha/apha-awards/david-p-rall-award-for-advocacy
  8. ^ https://www.sigmaxi.org/programs/prizes-awards/john-mcgovern