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Office of Disease Prevention Staff

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Wilma Peterman Cross, M.S.

Deputy Director

Ms. Peterman Cross serves as the Deputy Director of the ODP. She is an advisor to the NIH Associate Director for Prevention regarding scientific, programmatic, and policy issues and provides ongoing information, interpretation, and advice on disease prevention and health promotion activities and related public health issues. She is the Chair of the Prevention Research Coordinating Committee, a trans-NIH committee that provides a broad perspective on the current state-of-the-science and disseminates information about prevention-related activities sponsored by federal and non-federal organizations to NIH Institutes and Centers. She also serves as the ODP representative on several NIH-wide and agency-wide committees including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Reform Prevention Work Group, and the HHS National Prevention Strategy Intradepartmental Workgroup, which coordinates implementation of departmental activities associated with the National Prevention Strategy.

Ms. Peterman Cross oversaw the formulation and completion of the first strategic plan for the ODP. She designed an extensive and inclusive engagement process involving NIH colleagues, the broader scientific community, and interested members of the public to gather information related to pressing needs in prevention research. The plan has received praise from colleagues across the NIH and has helped to promote interactions with a variety of internal and external stakeholders. The plan charts new directions for the ODP and represents a significant shift in office activities, elevating the visibility of the Office and the importance of disease prevention research at the NIH.

Before joining the ODP, Ms. Peterman Cross served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Science Policy and Planning at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, where she facilitated a number of strategic planning and program evaluation activities. She also worked very closely with representatives from patient and professional organizations and congressional staff to advance the understanding of the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases.

Ms. Peterman Cross received a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Virginia (sports medicine) and a Master of Science from Springfield College, Springfield, MA (biomechanics and exercise physiology). She is a graduate of the NIH Senior Leadership Program and currently serves as the vice chair for the NIH Staff Training in Extramural Programs (STEP) committee. Her commitment to the NIH has been recognized by numerous awards, including multiple NIH Director’s Awards.