Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH

Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, CDC

Ruth Petersen serves as the director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO). The Division provides national leadership on nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention through policy and guideline development, surveillance, epidemiological and behavioral research, and technical assistance to states and communities. Dr. Petersen has held numerous leadership positions in multiple settings including health care, local and state health departments, national advisory groups, academic settings, the private sector, and global health platforms. Her broad, deep, and diverse experience with populations and partners and stakeholders are strong assets for leading DNPAO in its focused efforts to prevent chronic diseases through population- wide public health initiatives and health system innovations.

Dr. Petersen received her MD and MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After training in obstetrics and gynecology in Rochester, New York, she completed the UNC Preventive Medicine Residency and a post-doctoral fellowship in health services research. Throughout her career, she has drawn on her expertise in patient care, health system change, disease prevention, and community engagement to develop and guide programs, research, and policy to improve health behaviors and reduce chronic disease.