News Release

Friday, August 17, 2007

NCMHD Announces New Director for Extramural Activities and Scientific Programs

Award-winning epidemiologist and academician Francisco Sy, M.D., Dr.P.H., has been appointed as the new director of Extramural Activities and Scientific Programs at the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Dr. Sy is a unique public servant. He combines the rigor of a bench scientist with the fervor of a public health advocate. The NCMHD is proud to have him lead our scientific programs,” said NCHMD Director John Ruffin, Ph.D.

“Establishing equity within the healthcare system has long been a passion of mine. I am humbled and thrilled at being given this opportunity to have a leadership role in shaping the NIH’s research agenda on this issue,” said Dr. Sy.

Prior to being promoted to his new position, Sy oversaw several programs at the NCMHD: the Community-Based Participatory Research Initiative, Loan Repayment Programs and Research Endowment Program. In addition, he has represented the NCMHD and the NIH on a number of trans-NIH and HHS workgroups and committees.

Before coming to the NIH, Sy served as a senior health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, where he was the team leader in the Program Evaluation Research Branch in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. In 2003, as a member of the CDC’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak investigation team, Sy led community outreach efforts in Asian-American communities. In 2004, Sy organized the Asian and Pacific Islander employees at the CDC and became the first president of the Association of Asian/Pacific Islander Employees of the CDC and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Sy was a tenured professor at the University of South Carolina (USC) School of Public Health where he taught infectious disease epidemiology for 15 years and served as director of the Master of Public Health program.

Sy is a prolific scientific writer and editor. In 1996, he wrote and published the book AIDS Prevention in Multicultural Societies, and he is the founder and editor of the peer-reviewed journal AIDS Education and Prevention — An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Sy earned his Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) degree in Immunology and Infectious Diseases from Johns Hopkins University; Master of Science in Tropical Public Health from Harvard University; and Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the Philippines.

His achievements have earned him high honors in public health. Sy is a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine; Scientific Fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; and, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He has received several accolades in his career including the following selected awards: Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service for outstanding community outreach work during the SARS outbreak (2004); CDC/National Center for Infectious Diseases Honor Award for outstanding service in the SARS outbreak investigation (2004); Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health (1991); and Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health (1990).

The NCMHD ( is a component of the NIH. The NCMHD promotes minority health and leads, coordinates, supports and assesses the NIH effort to eliminate health disparities. The NCMHD programs focus on expanding the nation’s ability to conduct research and to build a diverse, culturally-competent research workforce to eliminate health disparities.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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