David Michaels PhD, MPH is an epidemiologist and professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health. He is among the country’s leading workplace safety and health, and he has held Senate-confirmed positions in the administrations of President Barack Obama (in which he was Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health) and President Bill Clinton (Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health).

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Michaels has focused on improving the protection of workers exposed to SARS-CoV-2. He has written and consulted extensively on the topic and was a member of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. He served on the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s expert panel that developed a Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus, and is a founding member of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission’s Task Force on Safe Work, Safe School, and Safe Travel.

Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health from 2009 through January 2017, and was the longest serving administrator in OSHA’s history.   Much of Michaels’ work has focused is on the relationship between safety and health management systems, operational excellence and sustainability. He has lectured extensively on the topic and directed OSHA’s first activities on sustainability in environment, social and governance (ESG).

Michaels is a leader in efforts to protect the integrity of the science underpinning public health and environmental protections, and is the author of The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception (Oxford University Press, 2020) and Doubt is Their Product (Oxford University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles in Science, JAMA, and other leading scientific publications.

From 1998 through January 2001, Michaels served as the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health.  In this position, he had primary responsibility for protecting the health and safety of workers, the neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities. Michaels was the chief architect of the historic initiative to compensate workers in the nuclear weapons complex who developed cancer or other diseases following exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards.

Throughout his career, Michaels has focused on the health of disadvantaged communities and the impact of infectious diseases on underserved populations.  He founded and directed the Epidemiology Unit of the Montefiore-Rikers Island Health Service, the first such unit in a jail in the United States, conducting studies on tuberculosis, drug abuse, mental health, homelessness and HIV.  In the early 1990s, Michaels developed a widely-cited mathematical model estimating the number of children and adolescents orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Michaels received the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award for his work on behalf of nuclear weapons workers and for his advocacy for scientific integrity. He is also the recipient of the American Public Health Association’s David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health, the John P. McGovern Science and Society Award given by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ William D. Wagner Award.

Michaels is a graduate of the City College of New York and holds an MPH (Master of Public Health) and PhD from Columbia University.

A champion for workers’ safety.
– The New York Times
David Michaels’s new book, The Triumph of Doubt, is a tour de force that examines how frequently, and easily, science has been manipulated to discredit expertise and accountability on issues ranging from obesity and concussions to opioids and climate change.
– SHERIL KIRSHENBAUM, book review in Science
The Triumph of Doubt is a brave and important book, raising the alarm about the systemic corruption of science.
– FELICITY LAWRENCE, book review in Nature
David Michaels is that rare combination: the fearless expert. He not only knows where the bodies are buried, he knows who buried them. The Triumph of Doubt and its predecessor, Doubt Is Their Product, are timely, readable, and essential guides for anyone seeking to understand how the corruption of science is damaging the health of everyone from football players and factory workers to soda drinkers and truck drivers—in short, anyone with a pulse.
– DAN FAGIN, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Toms River
Few people have done more to document disinformation about science than David Michaels. His new book is an important addition to the growing literature on doubt, disinformation, and deception.
– NAOMI ORESKES, author of Merchants of Doubt
A page-turner—one you’ll wish was fiction. From hired guns to dark money, The Triumph of Doubt unravels corporations’ playbook for deceiving the public through misinformation.
– MONA HANNA-ATTISHA, author of What the Eyes Don’t See
Scientist, public servant, and passionate advocate for health and safety, Michaels has written an absorbing sequel to his path-breaking work on manufactured doubt. He documents how powerful corporations have turned ‘product defense’ into a new political strategy, using dark money to pummel good science and keep dangerous products on the market. A must-read in the fight to restore public trust in regulatory science.
– SHEILA JASANOFF, Harvard Kennedy School
No one has done more to expose the deep corruption in American safety regulation that harms us all—and especially our kids. After spending seven years as America’s chief safety regulator, David Michaels offers a beautifully crafted argument for how much more we need to do. Required—if frightening—reading for anyone who cares about a clean and safe environment for America and the world.
– LAWRENCE LESSIG, author of Fidelity and Constraint
As a society, it’s vital we properly debate issues using data and research. The Triumph of Doubt, David Michaels’s wonderfully deep dive into the well-funded war on scientific consensus and certainty, makes the stakes clear: our planet. Read this.
– ADAM SAVAGE, Mythbusters
From the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the opioid crisis to the Koch brothers’ climate denial apparatus, Michaels examines big industry’s jarring history of manufacturing false scientific doubt in the name of profit. This is an important book that will serve as a tool in exposing corporate deceit.
A compelling and necessary work for anyone interested in the truth and those who seek to bury it. Michaels details the methods used by those in power to hide the truth-and the moral bankruptcy at work when they do so.
– DEMAURICE SMITH, NFL Players Association Executive Director

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