Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D.
Director, NIEHS & NTP
Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., became the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) on January 18, 2009. In these roles Birnbaum oversees federal funding for biomedical research to discover how the environment influences human health and disease. Several advisory boards and councils provide Birnbaum and NIEHS/ NTP staff with input to accomplish this large task.
Birnbaum is the first toxicologist and the first woman to lead the NIEHS/NTP. She has spent most of her career as a federal scientist.
Birnbaum has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, in October 2010, one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health.
Birnbaum’s own research and many of her publications focus on the pharmacokinetic behavior of environmental chemicals; mechanisms of actions of toxicants, including endocrine disruption; and linking of real-world exposures to health effects.
Birnbaum also finds time to mentor the next generation of environmental health scientists. For example, she serves as an adjunct professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Curriculum in Toxicology, and the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as in the Integrated Toxicology Program at Duke University.
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Birnbaum received her M.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The mission of the NIEHS is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives. Achieving this mission depends on a set of core values that apply to all activities of the Institute:
- Research excellence (innovation; discovery of new scientific knowledge and technology)
- Management Excellence; and
- Community outreach, education, and involvement.
At the NIEHS and NTP, we engage in a special form of public service – producing scientific knowledge that promotes individual and public health. Our institute is uniquely positioned to help prevent disease and transform new scientific knowledge into improvements in human health. There are many opportunities before us to build and expand the contributions of the NIEHS:
- Foster research on environmental triggers of disease;
- Communicate advances in environmental health sciences to the public;
- Foster training and development of emerging young environmental health scientists and practitioners;
- Enhance translation of knowledge from research to disease prevention; and
- Foster safety assessment research on chemicals and other environmental factors.
The fulfillment of this mission requires the partnership and effort of everyone in the environmental health sciences communities.