Melissa S. Creary

Health scientist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Division of Blood Disorders

Best known for: Creary is helping implement a two-year national pilot program to determine the prevalence of sickle cell disease and several other inherited blood disorders. The aim of the program, run in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, is to chart the full scope of these health issues, increase knowledge and awareness of the conditions, identify how to improve health-care delivery and evaluate whether current programs and interventions are working.

Creary is not an impartial observer. She was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at age 3 and views the pilot project as a platform for spreading information about the painful blood disorder that can lead to organ damage, anemia and premature death. Despite improvements in survival rates, life expectancy for those with sickle cell disease remains three decades shorter than the general population.

Government service: Creary joined the Division of Blood Disorders at the CDC in 2005, first working on hemophilia before focusing on sickle cell disease.

Biggest challenge: Much remains to be done to close the gaps in knowledge, awareness and treatment of sickle cell disease. Her CDC division has only a small staff to address a number of public health challenges as it tries to prioritize how it moves forward to assist those living with sickle cell disease.

Quote: “It is my calling to help build a platform so the voiceless can be heard. If I can inform one more person about sickle cell disease, I know I’ve done something that had an impact.”

Partnership for Public Service