Patricia M. Griffin, M.D. - 2018 Leader Lecturer

Patricia M. Griffin, M.D. - 2018 Leader Lecturer

By: Esther Haviland

Title: Progress Toward Building a Better U.S. System for Tracking, Investigating, and Decreasing Foodborne Illnesses


The annual Robert Leader Endowed Lecture Series featured guest speaker Patricia M. Griffin, M.D., Chief of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch. In her lecture titled "Progress Toward Building a Better U.S. System for Tracking, Investigating, and Decreasing Foodborne Illnesses", Dr. Griffin shared how multi-disciplinary investigations of past foodborne outbreaks have identified many of the root causes of contamination so prevention efforts can be effectively targeted.

Dr. Griffin attended medical school and trained in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; she trained in gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and in epidemiology through CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service.

Dr. Griffin oversees surveillance and investigation of sporadic illnesses in the United States caused by enteric bacteria and of hemolytic uremic syndrome. Her branch conducts analytic studies and investigations of illnesses caused by Campylobacter, Clostridium botulinum, E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio, and other enteric bacteria. They use surveillance data to estimate the incidence and the number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by pathogens transmitted commonly by food. The branch also conducts surveillance for antibiotic resistance in human Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Vibrio isolates, and determines sources of and risk factors for people acquiring resistant pathogens. Dr Griffin oversaw CDC’s role in investigations of outbreaks caused by bacterial enteric pathogens for 20 years. Her branch analyzes data from foodborne disease outbreaks over many years, and uses these and other data to create models to estimate the percentage of overall U.S. illnesses due to each food category.

Dr. Griffin is an author of over 225 peer-reviewed publications. She received CDC’s Shepard Award for the best scientific paper in 1990, the US Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal in 2009, and CDC’s Shepard Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award in 2015. During January through June 2017, she served as CDC’s Acting Associate Director for Science. She is an adjunct professor in the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, a member of the International VTEC/STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E. coli) Symposium Steering Committee, a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and a member of the American Epidemiological Society.