Career, Clinical

Advisory Board Profile: Senior Medical Officer at CDC, Dr. Siobhan O’Connor

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(Photos: Hyunjun Fred Woo)

The Biomedical Engineering (BME) Advisory Board is made up of highly qualified and accomplished individuals who meet to discuss various aspects of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering with the intention of furthering the Biomedical Engineering program. These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds such as the medical field, industry, and academia. One of the board members is Dr. Siobhan O’ Connor, who currently serves as a Senior Medical Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

O’Connor began her career at Georgia Tech in the School of Chemical Engineering. By her third year, she decided that she wanted to become a Chemistry major in order to fit more biochemistry into her curriculum, though she had continued to have an interest in engineering and BME, while such a program was not available then. She spent a year and a half performing research in a lab before she attended the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. After her residency, O’ Connor was a member of the faculty at the University of Texas before starting her fellowship in Rheumatology. Her experiences with the fellowship allowed her to realize that she wanted to go into public health and become an epidemiologist. She received her Masters of Public Health (MPH) with a focus on International Health from Harvard University. Her strong background in clinical and laboratory research, MPH, and interest in global health and infectious diseases led her to the CDC. After 15 years of working with various infectious diseases, viral hepatitis, and polio, O’ Connor transitioned to an administrative role with the CDC. Today, O’ Connor works with viral hepatitis and HIV on a global health scale. She works with other countries to ensure that they have viral hepatitis testing and can build a system to address the infections.

When asked how she became a member of the board and what she contributes to it, O’ Connor responded with an anecdote that reflects the opportunities that Georgia Tech has to offer. When she reconnected with Georgia Tech and the alumni association, members of the Advisory Board quickly realized that she had a unique and important perspective on Biomedical Engineering. As an M.D., Georgia Tech alumna, and someone who retained an interest in BME from her time as an undergraduate at Georgia Tech, it took little time for O’ Connor to receive and accept an offer from the board.  As a member of the board, she does help evaluate the department regularly, but she is also involved with helping undergraduate students directly. She has helped students with senior design projects in many facets of the process from design development to acquiring a patent.

As one of the top BME undergraduate programs in the nation, there are many things that the department is doing well, which makes the board’s job much simpler. When asked about her vision for the future of BME at Georgia Tech, O’ Connor hopes that students continue to actively shape their curriculum in a way that makes them more desirable for jobs and positions in their futures. With the different perspectives on the board and the initiative to further the department, there is no doubt that the arrow for BME at Georgia Tech is pointing up.

Sara Khalek

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