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University of Iowa News Release


July 17, 2007

Atchison Named Director Of University Hygienic Laboratory

University of Iowa Vice President for Research Meredith Hay today announced the appointment of Christopher G. Atchison as director of the University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL), effective Aug. 1.

Atchison has served as interim director at the UHL since October 2006. His salary as UHL director will be $200,000.

"Chris has been outstanding as interim director of the Hygienic Lab, so I am delighted that he will continue this role on a permanent basis," Hay said. "His background in public health, his administrative skills, and his commitment to public service make Chris a perfect fit for this important position. I look forward to working with him."

Atchison is associate dean for public health practice and a clinical professor of health management and policy in the UI College of Public Health. He directs the college's Upper Midwest Center for Public Health Preparedness, one of 36 such centers funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and established to bolster the public health workforce's ability to respond to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

He also chairs the UI Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Task Force, established in January 2006 to examine the university's readiness and develop a plan in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak.

"I am truly honored to have the privilege to lead the University Hygienic Laboratory," Atchison said. "As interim director for the past several months, I have seen firsthand the dedication and professionalism the UHL staff brings to serving the public health needs of Iowa, the nation and the world. I look forward to continuing to work with them to meet the public health challenges of the 21st century."

Prior to joining the UI faculty in 1999, Atchison served as 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 he was a member of the Governor's Health Care Reform Task Force.

Atchison received an undergraduate degree in political science at Loyola University in Chicago in 1971 and a master's degree in public administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield in 1990.

The UHL is the state's environmental and public health laboratory. Staff members provide testing services for communicable diseases, infections and other illnesses; drinking and recreational water testing; air and environmental quality monitoring; and surveillance of potential biological and chemical agents. UHL personnel also screen all babies born in Iowa for a host of metabolic disorders. Outreach, education and training also are key aspects of the UHL's overall mission.

The UHL employs approximately 250 people at its current locations on the UI Oakdale Research Campus and the Iowa Laboratories Facility on the Des Moines Area Community College campus in Ankeny.

Earlier this year, construction began on a new UHL building on the Oakdale campus for laboratory functions currently housed in the 89-year-old Oakdale Hall. The $37.75 million, 112,500-square-foot facility is scheduled for completion by late 2009.

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

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