Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Scientist Professional Advisory Committee

Meet the Chief Scientist Officer

CAPT Sukhminder K. Sandhu 

SANDHU,-Select-2-1.jpgCaptain (CAPT) Sukhminder K. Sandhu was appointed by the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) to serve as the 12th Chief Scientist for the Service. As the Chief Professional Officer, CAPT Sandhu advises the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention, and career development of scientist professionals in the Commissioned Corps Scientist category.

CAPT Sandhu is the Deputy Director for the Division of Epidemiology at the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology (OSE). In this role, she is responsible for supporting drug application approvals and ensuring the post-marketing safety of medical products across several therapeutic areas in the Office of New Drugs, including neurology, gastroenterology, dermatology, dentistry, and nonprescription drug products. Prior to this role, she served as an Epidemiology Team Leader in OSE, and as an Epidemiologist at FDA’s Center for Biologics and Research (CBER). While at CBER, she was instrumental in improving the methodological capabilities of FDA to conduct near real-time vaccine safety surveillance, for which she was awarded an Outstanding Service Medal. During her time at FDA, CAPT Sandhu has demonstrated exemplary leadership and excellence in pharmacoepidemiology and regulatory science. She has extensive experience working across FDA centers, other federal and international agencies and outside partners, and providing managerial oversight and subject matter expertise in regulatory science to ensure the safety of medical products.

Upon her call to duty in July 2004, CAPT Sandhu was assigned to the District of Columbia Department of Health as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer (EISO). As an EISO, she led outbreak investigations and studies evaluating trends and disparities in infectious and chronic diseases in the District of Columbia.

In addition to her experience across CDC and FDA, CAPT Sandhu has taken on challenging and diverse roles in her RedDOG Tier I team where she served as Chief for the Information Management Branch and the Liaison/Agency Representative Branch. Throughout her career, she has served on a multitude of deployments, including for Hurricane Katrina, Hurricanes Irma/Maria, Joint Sessions of Congress, Presidential Inaugurations, and multiple COVID-19 deployments, including serving as the External Engagement Lead for the COVID-19 Response Healthcare Resilience Workgroup, for which she was awarded a Commendation Medal.

CAPT Sandhu started her career as a United States Public Health Service Officer upon completion of her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Epidemiology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2004. In addition to a PhD, she holds a Master of Public Health degree in Infectious Diseases, a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Molecular and Cell Biology.

CAPT Sandhu was born in Punjab, India, and in early childhood immigrated to the United States with her parents, Bachittar S. Sandhu, who had been serving in the Indian Air Force, and Surjeet K. Sandhu, who was a teacher, and elder brother, Dharminder. Although she spent the majority of her youth and early adulthood on the West Coast, CAPT Sandhu moved to the Washington, D.C., area upon completing her doctoral education. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband, Haar, and their sweet twin daughters, Ishha and Nhoor. In her spare time, CAPT Sandhu enjoys spending time with her family and friends, running, and cooking.

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–Nov 2021
CAPT Sukhminder K. Sandhu FDA Nov 2021–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 1/11/2022

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