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Expert Perspectives

Preventing Low Birth Weight

This expert has contributed to PPN's Expert Perspectives feature on the topic of preventing low birth weight.

José Cordero, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Jose Cordero

Faculty of Biosocial Sciences and Graduate School of Public Health
Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico

Dr. José F. Cordero is the Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Puerto Rico since August 2006. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Cordero was an Assistant Surgeon General of the Public Health Service and the Founding Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. He served in this capacity since the establishment of the center on April 16, 2001. Dr. Cordero worked for 27 years at the CDC and has extensive public health experience in the fields of birth defects, developmental disabilities, and child health. He is a member of the National Board of the March of Dimes and has been focusing his recent research efforts on the challenge of preterm births in Puerto Rico, the United States jurisdiction with the highest rate of this condition.

A native of Puerto Rico, Dr. Cordero obtained his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico in 1973. He completed residency training in pediatrics at Boston City Hospital and a fellowship in medical genetics at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1979, Dr. Cordero obtained a master's in public health from Harvard University and joined the CDC as an Epidemiologic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer. His first assignment as an EIS officer was with the Birth Defects Branch, where he spent more than 15 years working on birth defects, disabilities, and other child health issues. In 1994, Dr. Cordero was appointed deputy director of the National Immunization Program, where he made important and long-lasting contributions in many areas of one of the nation's most successful public health programs. In 2001 was named the first director of the NCBDDD that was created by the Children's Health Act of 2000. In a few years, NCBDDD became a leading international institution devoted to research and prevention of birth defects and developmental disabilities and health promotion of people of ages living with disabilities.

A former President of the Teratology Society, a professional research society devoted to the prevention of birth defects, Dr. Cordero has promoted the eradication of rubella (German measles), a major cause of birth defects that can be prevented through vaccination. He has also promoted research to determine the causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities, and efforts to prevent serious birth defects (such as use of folic acid to prevent spina bifida).

Dr. Cordero's work has been published in many national and international journals, and he is regularly requested to speak at national and international meetings.