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Crystal Watson, DrPH, MPH
Senior Scholar, Assistant Professor

Risk assessment public health and healthcare preparedness federal biodefense funding

Crystal R. Watson, DrPH, MPH
Crystal R. Watson, DrPH, MPH

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Professional Profile

Dr. Watson is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her policy research focuses on public health risk assessment, crisis and risk-based decision making, public health and healthcare preparedness and response, biodefense, and emerging infectious disease preparedness and response. She also conducts research on the funding and management of biodefense and health security in the US federal government.

From 2012 to 2013, Dr. Watson served as Program Manager for the Integrated (CBRN) Terrorism Risk Assessment (ITRA) program of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology Directorate. The ITRA program is mandated by presidential directive and is linked to decision making in a number of parts of the US government, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the intelligence community, and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

During her year as ITRA Program Manager, Dr. Watson also coordinated and supported a joint DHS/HHS study to inform the contents of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). In addition, she led an assessment of the chemical, biological, radiological, and explosives risk to the DHS mail stream and screening facility.

Since joining the Center in 2004, Dr. Watson has led a variety of projects and authored a number of peer-reviewed articles and reports, including an article published in Science on biological threat characterization and articles on risk assessment; federal decontamination plans for a wide-area biological attack; federal, state, and local medical response to Hurricane Katrina; and the National Hospital Preparedness Program. Dr. Watson also focuses on supporting national and global health security and was a member of the Center’s Joint External Evaluation (JEE) team, which conducted an assessment of Taiwan’s capacities and capabilities under the International Health Regulations (IHR). Dr. Watson serves as an Associate Editor of the journal Health Security.

Dr. Watson earned a DrPH in Health Policy and Management in 2017, and an MPH in 2009, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She earned a BA in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology in 2004 from the University of Colorado at Boulder.


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