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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 3, 2006

Atchison Named Interim Director Of University Hygienic Lab

Christopher G. Atchison, University of Iowa clinical professor of health management and policy and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, today was named interim director of the University Hygienic Laboratory, the state's public health laboratory. Atchison succeeds Dr. Mary Gilchrist.

Meredith Hay, UI vice president for research, announced Atchison's appointment. She also announced the appointments of Michael Wichman and Michael Pentella as UHL interim associate directors and Gregory Gray as UHL interim chief scientific advisor. Wichman is senior program manager for environmental health programs at the UHL. Pentella is senior program manager for infectious disease programs at the UHL. Gray is professor of epidemiology in the UI College of Public Health and director of the UI Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases.

"I'm pleased that Professor Atchison has agreed to take on this important position at a critical time for the Hygienic Lab," Hay said. "We are in the final planning stages for a new facility that will serve the public health needs of our state and the nation. Chris's experience as the former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health and his service on a number of national public health associations is an assurance that the new lab will be a state-of-the-art facility."

"I also want to thank Dr. Mary Gilchrist for her many years of leadership at the Hygienic Lab," Hay added. "She has worked tirelessly to educate public officials and the general public about the Hygienic Lab's essential functions and the need for a modern facility."

"It's an honor to have the opportunity to direct the University Hygienic Lab," Atchison said. "It plays a vital role in maintaining public health across our entire state, our country and even the world. At a time when new threats of infectious disease are emerging, we must make certain that the new laboratory is designed and equipped to address those challenges. With the commitments and support we have received for building this new facility, I am confident we will meet those challenges."

Atchison came to the UI in 1999 as a clinical associate professor in health management and policy in the College of Public Health. At that time, he was also named associate dean for public health practice, and director of the Center for Public Health Practice. Since 2004, he has been clinical professor of health management and policy and director of the Institute for Public Health Practice. He continues to serve as associate dean in the College of Public Health and chairs the UI Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Task Force.

He was director of the Iowa Department of Public Health from 1991 through 1998. During his tenure, he chaired the Iowa Child Health Insurance Program Board, the Iowa Health Data Commission, and the Governor's Task Force on Regulatory Reform. He was vice chair of Healthy Iowans 2010, the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, and was a member of the Governor's Health Care Reform Task Force.

At the national level, Atchison serves as the chair of the Association of Schools of Public Health Council of Public Health Coordinators. Previously, he served as president of the Association of State and Territorial health Officials and in 1998, received that organization's Arthur T. McCormack Award for his contributions to public health practice.

Atchison's salary as interim UHL director will be $180,715.

STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1000.

MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Parrott,, phone 319-335-0552, cell 319-530-6972