In Memorium

CAPT Derek Dunn, Ph.D.

CAPT Derek Dunn, Ph.D., Acting Associate Director for Science for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), died on December 20, 2002 from complications arising from an aortic dissection. In his 23 years in the USPHS, CAPT Dunn made outstanding contributions to preventing occupational hearing loss, to occupational safety and health, to the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS, and to young scientists. He made friends and touched lives around the world with his love for his family, his passion for his work, his genuine concern for helping others, his elegance and sense of humor.

CAPT Dunn received his B.S. (1969), M.A. (1970), and Ph.D. (1972) from the University of Cincinnati, and was devoted to the University and its students throughout his career. He was one of the organizers of the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Association, served on its first board, its executive council and as president. He received the Distinguished Alumnus award from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in 1989, and from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1992. His service to the University included mentoring post-graduate and student research, teaching, lecturing and developing collaborative programs between UC and NIOSH. In 2001 the University of Cincinnati Alumni Association awarded CAPT Dunn the Award for Distinguished Service. CAPT Dunn also completed an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship in electron microscopy and cochlear morphology at Ohio State University, and was a guest researcher at Sweden’s University of Lund. He was an adjunct professor at both the University of Cincinnati and the Miami University.

CAPT Dunn had a remarkable career at NIOSH. He authored many publications on the etiology of noise-induced hearing loss and prevention of occupational hearing loss. He was a natural leader, assuming successive leadership roles which included Section and Branch Chief, Division Associate Director for Science and Division Director. In 1998-99, he re-located to Washington DC to serve as Executive Assistant to Principle Deputy Assistant Laurie in the office of US Surgeon General Satcher. CAPT Dunn received over 20 significant awards for his work, including the USPHS Meritorius Service Medal, the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal, and NIOSH-Cincinnati Supervisor of the Year (awarded by AFGE Local 3840).

CAPT Dunn was an invaluable leader in the USPHS Commissioned Corps. He was a two-term member of the Scientist Professional Advisory Committee (SciPAC), and served as its Chairman in 1991-1992. He was named by the US Surgeon General as the Scientist Category Chief Professional Officer (CPO) in 1995. As CPO for 5 years, he was instrumental in developing the Scientist Handbook, the CDC Mentoring Program, Mentor and Leadership Training Seminars and the USPHS Bicentennial Calendar. In 2001, he was selected as the USPHS Career Scientist of the Year. CAPT Dunn was also a leader in the Commissioned Officer Association (COA), serving on numerous committees, in leadership at the local and national level, and on the national board of directors. Just this past August, the COA awarded CAPT Dunn the 2002 Robert Brutsche Award, the highest COA service award.

One of CAPT Dunn’s greatest passions was mentoring young students, scientists and officers. For the past several years, he was the primary NIOSH liaison to the IMHOTEP program, personally overseeing the recruitment and matching of minority students to summer research opportunities throughout NIOSH. He has performed many hours of service to organizations in Cincinnati. He was past organization head of a Boy Scouts of America Explorer Unit, served on the Cincinnati Memorial Center Board of Directors and was past president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Acoustical Society of America. Derek loved his farm, was an avid collector of jazz recordings, held a pilot’s license, and was an excellent marksman.

The above are just samples of CAPT Dunn’s accomplishments in a career cut far too short. The lengthy list does not begin to capture his unique communication style, his elegance, his concern for others, his ability to bring others along to accomplish the mission, his sense of humor. We will remember his door-sign of many years – “What have you done for the worker today” which captured his focus on mission and service, and his willingness to be accountable for the results of all that was tasked of him. –  Douglas Sharpnack 12/23/2002

CAPT Mitch Singal, M.D.

A friend and colleague of many in public health, Mitch Singal died as the result of an accident while volunteering at a food pantry in May 2007 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During his 28-year career as a U.S. Public Health Service officer at NIOSH, Mitch made innumerable contributions to public health. He was respected and admired for his compassionate skills in mentoring physicians, epidemiologists, and industrial hygienists at NIOSH—doing so with great passion, dignity, and humor.

Dr. Singal had a long and illustrious career notable for his scientific achievements in occupational health. His public health career began in 1975 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer at the Kentucky Department of Health Services. In 1977, he transferred to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) where he remained for the duration of his career. He served in many official capacities in the Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance Branch; however, none convey his impact on the countless number of individuals he informally educated and mentored at NIOSH and throughout the world.

He was an accomplished scientist and well recognized for his dedication to the field of occupational health. He was the principal author of the 1989 Exxon Alaskan oil spill report and the only comprehensive study of the work-related health effects among oil spill clean-up workers. He played an integral role in a groundbreaking investigation of the workplace health effects of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and the development of a model for future IEQ investigations, which is used throughout the world today. He wrote about topics such as trichinosis and malaria outbreaks, psychogenic illness, chemical neuropathy, and cancer clusters in the workplace. He personally provided service to thousands of workers through identifying workplace hazards and providing practical recommendations to prevent occupational disease. He shared his knowledge in medicine, epidemiology, scientific ethics, and occupational health practice, and was committed to superior teaching, work performance, and leadership.

Dr. Singal participated in many local, national, and international activities including conducting lectures to medical students on the role of the primary physician in occupational health, teaching an occupational epidemiology workshop to occupational medicine fellows in Taiwan, volunteering with the International Medical Corps in Bosnia, and preparing testimony for standard-setting hearings. He is well published in the scientific literature, received specialty board certification in both general preventive medicine and occupational medicine, and was affiliated with numerous professional organizations throughout his career.

For 25 years, Dr. Singal showed unequaled professionalism and dedication to occupational health research, teaching, and public health service. His work has contributed to the training of occupational health professionals, improved the scientific understanding of occupational disease, and facilitated the control of hazardous exposures in the workplace. After retiring from NIOSH, he remained active in public health through teaching as well as providing scientific service to universities and peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Singal’s diligence, integrity, intelligence, and foresight are a model for others in public health and elsewhere.

But Mitch’s lasting legacy may be that he set the highest standard for public health’s core values of integrity, excellence, and respect for all people. Most certainly, all who knew and interacted with Mitch are better people because of him.