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AHRQ Announces New Chair and Members of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

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Press Release Date: January 15, 2004

Five new members and a new chair have been named to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, announced today by Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The Task Force, sponsored by AHRQ, is the leading independent panel of private-sector experts in prevention and primary care and conducts rigorous, impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for a broad range of preventive services.

Bruce Nedrow (Ned) Calonge, M.D., M.P.H., a member of the Task Force for 2 years, takes leadership this month.  The five new members are Leon Gordis, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H.; Kimberly Gregory, M.D., M.P.H.; Judith Ockene, Ph.D. M.Ed.; Diana Petitti, M.D., M.P.H.; and Barbara Yawn, M.D., M.Sc.

"We are very pleased to have Dr. Calonge assume the leadership of the Task Force," said Dr. Clancy. "He brings formidable expertise in public health at the state and national levels and a unique perspective in preventive medicine."

Dr. Calonge is chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the state epidemiologist. He is an associate professor of family medicine and of preventive medicine and biometrics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. Prior to his appointment at the Department of Public Health and Environment in January 2002, Dr. Calonge was the chief of preventive medicine and research for Kaiser Permanente of Colorado.

Alfred O. Berg, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, is stepping down as chair of the Task Force he has led since 1996. "Under Dr. Berg's expert eye and with his guidance, the panel has gained tremendous national and international recognition as the gold standard for clinical preventive services," according to Dr. Clancy. Dr. Berg will continue as a member of the group for an additional year.

Dr. Gordis is an expert in epidemiology and pediatrics. He is board certified in pediatrics and is a professor in the departments of Epidemiology and Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  He is co-director of the Center for Epidemiology and Policy in the Department of Epidemiology of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Gordis directs the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins and also directs the Physician and Society Course, a required 4-year course for students in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Dr. Gregory is director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and director of Women's Health Services Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She is an associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA's Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and at the UCLA School of Public Health's Department of Community Health Sciences. She is president of the Perinatal Advisory Council, Los Angeles Communities, and has served on numerous advisory boards, including the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the California Health Policy and Data Advisory Commission on Lowering Cesarean Sections, the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative, and the March of Dimes.

Dr. Ockene is professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she is also the Barbara Helen Smith Chair and founder and chief of the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine. She is a clinical psychologist and a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine, where she is also president-elect. Dr. Ockene has extensive experience in both research and evaluation of evidence-based methods in disease prevention and health promotion and has served as scientific editor on two Surgeon General reports on smoking.

Dr. Petitti, an expert in preventive medicine, is director of research and evaluation at Kaiser Permanente of Southern California in Pasadena. She is a member of the American Public Health Association, the Society for Epidemiologic Research, and the American Epidemiologic Society and is a Fellow of the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology. She is also currently a member the Institute of Medicine, New Approaches to Early Detection of Breast Cancer; the California Office of Statewide Planning on Health's Technical Advisory Committee; and the Kaiser Permanente National Research Council.

Dr. Yawn is director of research at Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Yawn has served on numerous national and international panels, including co-chair of the 2003 NIH National Asthma Summit, as a member of the World Health Organization Primary Care Asthma Guidelines Committee, and as a member of the National Institutes of Health Think Tank: Future of Obesity Research panel. She is nationally recognized for her expertise in primary care and methodology.

The Task Force has made recommendations on a range of preventive services, including screening for obesity, prostate cancer, and cervical cancer as well as the use of aspirin to prevent heart disease, vitamins to prevent cancer and heart disease, and hormone therapy. Its recommendations are considered the gold standard for clinical preventive services. Upcoming recommendations are expected on screening for dental caries and coronary heart disease, among others.

More information about the Task Force can be found on the AHRQ Web site at

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1364.


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