Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Scientist Professional Advisory Committee

Meet the Chief Scientist Officer

CAPT John Eckert

CAPT Eckert

In November 2017, the Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) appointed Captain (CAPT) John Eckert to serve as the 11th Chief Scientist for the Service as a collateral duty. In this role, CAPT Eckert provides executive-level advice to the Surgeon General on matters of public health science, and leadership to the Scientist officers throughout the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS. In March 2020, CAPT Eckert transferred to the Office of the Chief Scientist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as his primary duty assignment. Among his duties, CAPT Eckert serves as the Chair of the FDA’s Institutional Review Board.
CAPT Eckert earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Chemistry from Skidmore College in 1985, and his Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Microbiology with a minor in Biochemistry and a Nuclear Science concentration from the Louisiana State University (LSU) in 1991. He received advanced training in forensic medicine and DNA typing through the Office of Chief Medical Examiner for New York City, Federal Medical Executives training at multiple Department of Defense facilities, and Federal Emergency Response Official/Continuity of Government certification at a variety of Federal installations.
Prior to his current duty, CAPT Eckert’s assignments included the establishment and inaugural Director of the Office of Research Protections in the Defense Health Agency (2015-2020); Interim Director of the Research Regulatory Oversight Office in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (2013-2015); Director of the Human Research Protections Program for the TRICARE Management Activity (2011-2013), all within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Previously, CAPT Eckert was appointed Deputy Director of the USPHS Force Management Transformation Program (2006-2011), following his service as the Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Health (2004-2006). Upon his call to active duty, CAPT Eckert was assigned to the FDA’s Arkansas Regional Laboratory, where he led the persistent organic pollutants analytical program (2001-2004). Prior to his commission with the USPHS, he was a twice-tenured university professor (1992-2001). He completed his Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Department of Medicine at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans in 1992.
CAPT Eckert has served on multiple deployments in response to disasters and in support of operations overseas. Weeks after his call to active duty, he was deployed to New York City to assist with body identification following the 2001 terrorist attacks. He served a sea tour as the Medical Executive Team Epidemiologist Officer aboard the USS Boxer (LHD-4) in the Pacific Ocean in 2008. CAPT Eckert was selected by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve for five years as a Federal Executive Branch member of the Continuity of Government Team as a collateral duty. He has led many other emergency responses and deployments to disasters, as well as National preparedness planning activities throughout his USPHS career.
CAPT Eckert’s personal and unit awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal, Outstanding Service Medal (2), Joint Services Commendation Medal, Commendation Medal (2), Achievement Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Outstanding Unit Citation (4), Unit Commendation (13) and multiple service and skills awards. He has also received awards from then-President Clinton, U.S. Senator Breaux (LA) and other regional and national leaders for his work to expand minority participation in the National Marrow Donor Program.
CAPT Eckert is married to the former Michelle Lynn Williams of Bogalusa, Louisiana. Dr. Michelle Eckert is a general surgeon in private practice in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They have been married since 1995. 

Chief Scientist Officers 1983–Present
Officer Agency       Term
CAPT James McTigue OSG Oct 1983–Sep 1987
CAPT Richard Chiacchierini FDA Oct 1987–Sep 1991
CAPT Jerry Johnson CDC Oct 1991–Sep 1995
CAPT Derek Dunn CDC Oct 1995–Sep 2000  
RADM Lireka Joseph FDA Oct 2000–Feb 2004
CDR Doug Thoroughman CDC Feb 2004–Mar 2005
CAPT Ralph O’Connor CDC Apr 2005–Jul 2005
RADM Helena O. Mishoe NIH Aug 2005–Jul 2009
CAPT Sharon O. Williams-Fleetwood      CDC Aug 2009–Jul 2013
CAPT Martin L. Sanders FOH Aug 2013–Oct 2017
CAPT John Eckert FDA Nov 2017–Present

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
FDA: Food and Drug Administration
FOH: Federal Occupational Health
NIH: National Institutes of Health
OSG: Office of the Surgeon General
DOD: Department of Defense

Page Last Modified on 5/20/2020

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