David Michaels (epidemiologist)

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David Michaels
David michaels.jpg
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
Assumed office
December 8, 2009
President Barack Obama
Vice President Joseph Biden
Preceded by Jordan Barab (acting)
Personal details
Born (1954-10-11) October 11, 1954 (age 61)
New York, New York
Profession Epidemiologist

David Michaels is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Michaels began serving in the post in December 2009 as OSHA’s 12th Assistant Secretary. In October, 2013, he became the longest serving since the agency began operations in 1971.

As Assistant Secretary, Michaels has worked to strengthen the agency's enforcement in high risk industries, improve OSHA's whistleblower protection program, promote common sense worker protection programs and standards, expand compliance assistance provided to small employers, and increase outreach to the vulnerable populations who are at greatest risk for work-related injury and illness. He has also increased OSHA's focus and capabilities in the areas of data analysis and program evaluation.[1]

Michaels is an epidemiologist and Professor (on leave) in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. He previously taught at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at the City University of New York and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Michaels served as the United States Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health from 1998 through January 2001. In this position, he had primary responsibility for protecting the health and safety of workers, the neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation's nuclear weapons facilities. Michaels developed the initiative to compensate workers in the nuclear weapons complex who developed cancer or lung disease as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards. That initiative resulted in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, which has provided over $11.5 billion in benefits since its inception in 2001.

In February 2006, Michaels received the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.[2] He has also received the American Public Health Association's David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health, the 2009 John P. McGovern Science and Society Award of Sigma Xi, and the US Department of Energy's Meritorious Service Award.

Michaels has written extensively on issues related to the integrity of scientific information that serves as the basis of public health and environmental regulation,[3][4][5][6] and is the author of Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health (Oxford University Press, 2008). His studies and articles have been published in Science, JAMA, Scientific American, the International Journal of Epidemiology, the American Journal of Public Health and other scientific journals.

During the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Michaels developed a widely used mathematical model to estimate the number of children orphaned by the disease.[7] In addition, while employed at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY, he helped found and directed the Epidemiology Unit at the Montefiore-Rikers Island Health Service, the first such unit at a jail in the United States.

Michaels graduated from the City College of New York, and holds a Master in Public Health (MPH) and PhD from Columbia University, in New York City.

Michaels is the son of journalist Ruth Gruber.


  • Michaels, David (2008). Doubt is Their Product: How industry's assault on science threatens your health. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530067-3. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/michaels_bio.html
  2. ^ http://www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/awards/freedom/freedom2005.shtml
  3. ^ Michaels D, Monforton C; Monforton (2005). "Manufacturing uncertainty: contested science and the protection of the public's health and environment". Am J Public Health 95 (Suppl 1): S39–48. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.043059. PMID 16030337.  As PDF.
  4. ^ Michaels D, Bingham E, Boden L, et al. (October 2002). "Advice without dissent". Science 298 (5594): 703. doi:10.1126/science.298.5594.703. PMID 12399550. 
  5. ^ Michaels D, Wagner W; Wagner (December 2003). "Science and government. Disclosure in regulatory science". Science 302 (5653): 2073. doi:10.1126/science.1093718. PMID 14684806. 
  6. ^ Wagner, Wendy; Michaels, David (2004). "Equal Treatment for Regulatory Science: Extending the Controls Governing the Quality of Public Research to Private Research". Am J Law Med 30: 119–154. 
  7. ^ Michaels, David; Levine, Carol (Dec 23, 1992). "Estimates of the number of motherless youth orphaned by AIDS in the United States". JAMA 268 (24): 3456–61. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490240064038. PMID 1460736.