Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Scientist Professional Advisory Committee

Meet the Chief Scientist Officer

CAPT John Eckert

CAPT Eckert

As the Director of the Human Research Protections Program for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the Defense Health Agency, Captain (CAPT) John Eckert is responsible for the regulatory oversight of ~$3 billion in research protocols, including biomedical research at all Military Treatment Facilities worldwide beginning in 2018. His Office ensures compliance with Federal statutes, Regulations and DoD policies governing the ethical treatment of human subjects in research conducted and supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, and for investigating allegations of research misconduct. The Surgeon General has appointed CAPT Eckert to serve as Chief Scientist for the Public Health Service as a collateral duty.
 
CAPT Eckert earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Chemistry from Skidmore College in 1985.  He then earned 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.  In 1992, he completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Allergy and Clinical Immunology in the Department of Medicine at the LSU Medical Center. He has 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 the Brooke Army Medical Center and Federal Emergency Response Official/Continuity of Government certification at a variety of Federal installations.  He has also earned Certified IRB Professional certification.
 
Prior to his current duty, CAPT Eckert’s assignments included twice-tenured university faculty appointments in New Orleans and Upstate New York (Biology Department Chair) from 1992 to 2001. Upon his call to active duty in July 2001, he was assigned to the Food and Drug Administration’s Arkansas Regional Laboratory, where he led the persistent organic pollutants analytical program until 2004. During this same period, CAPT Eckert was detailed to the Disaster Mortuary Operations Response Team following the attack on the World Trade Center. He next served as the Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Health through 2006, advising on policy, personnel, research, legislative and regulatory matters. CAPT Eckert was appointed Deputy Director of the USPHS Force Management Transformation Program in October 2006, with a sea tour in 2008 as Medical Executive Team Officer embarked aboard the USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the Southern and Eastern Pacific.  In March 2013, CAPT Eckert was detailed to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness as the Interim Director of the Research Regulatory Oversight Office.  He led that office until July 2015.
 
CAPT Eckert has served on multiple deployments in response to disasters and in support of operations overseas. Many of those deployments were as an individual augmentee to forward-deployed teams. He served for five years as a Federal Executive Branch member of the Continuity of Government Team. His 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 Former President Clinton, U.S. Senator Breaux (LA), New Orleans government leaders and others for his work toward expanding 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 DOD 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 6/11/2019

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