At a Glance
- Career History: Director, University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity (2003 to 2009); Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (2001 to 2003); Member, Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (1998 to 2001)Birthday: N/A
- Hometown: Norwood, Mass.
- Alma Mater: Vassar College, B.A., 1974; George Washington University, M.D., 1981; Johns Hopkins University, MPH, 1988
- Office: The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, The Pier IV Building621 E. Pratt Street, Suite 210, Baltimore, MD 21202; (443) 573-3304
- Web site
Path to Power
O'Toole grew up in Norwood, Mass. She earned a B.A. from Vassar College in 1974 and her MD from George Washington University in 1981. She completed an internal medicine residency at Yale University. She also has a masters' in public health from Johns Hopkins University, which she received in 1988.
In 1984, O'Toole took a job as a doctor at community health center in Baltimore. In 1988, she moved to Washington to study the health impact of nuclear-weapons production as a senior analyst at the Congressional Office of Technology.
O'Toole has long been a proponent of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. However, she said that bioterrorism research and preparedness requires different structures than most other preparedness work. A bioterrorist attack "would not be a 'lights and sirens' event with firefighters, police and emergency rescue teams rushing to the scene of attack," she said at a 2002 congressional hearing. "We will know we have been attacked with a biological weapon when victims become ill and report to doctors' offices and emergency rooms."
O'Toole has called for investments in rapid diagnostic tests, electronic health records and digital links between hospitals and public-health agencies. She said countries like Britain have electronic health records, which makes it easier for hospitals and doctors to communicate during crises. She would also like the U.S. government to better fund its bioterrorism work and to improve recruitment of talented scientist to join the public sector.
At DHS, O'Toole will join a team that includes Secretary Janet Napolitano and Deputy Secretary Jane Lute . She will also work closely with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate .