Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D. recently retired from a 40 year career as a federal scientist, serving for the last ten years as director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Dr. Birnbaum shared her perspective on the current state of federal scientific research, the public health consequences of sidelining science, and what we can do to restore the role of science in policy.
As NIEHS director, Dr. Birnbaum oversaw research grants and shared the results of cutting edge environmental health research with the public and policy makers. She also met with communities across the U.S., including in Alaska, to better understand environmental concerns and disparities.
Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Birnbaum has been particularly effective at bringing forward the mounting scientific evidence of harm of exposures to certain chemicals that are now ubiquitous in our products and environment. Her discussion of the current science has helped to shift our understanding of exposures to include the dangers of chronic low dose exposures and the long term effects of early lifetime exposures. Yet in her last few years with NIEHS, Dr. Birnbaum’s work to disseminate the best science was increasingly difficult.
July 9, 2019: NIH Director Statement on the retirement of Dr. Linda Birnbaum