Shawna L. Mercer, PhD

The Guide to Community Preventive Services
The Community Guide Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, NE, Mailstop E-69
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 404/498-2496

Shawna L. Mercer, PhD, is the director of the Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide), housed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As policymakers, program managers, and funders try to determine which practice, policy, and research actions will have the greatest impact on health, the Community Guide brings to the discussion gold standard methods for identifying effective ways to increase health and health value. The Community Guide collaborates with a wide range of partners and stakeholders in using systematic review processes to (i) analyze all available evidence on the effectiveness of population-based public health programs and policies in states, communities, healthcare systems, organizations, worksites, schools, and other settings; (ii) assess the economic efficiency of all effective interventions; and (iii) identify critical research gaps. Community Guide systematic reviews form the basis of recommendations for public health practice, policy, and research made by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services—a nonfederal, independent body of leaders in public health practice, policy, and research, convened by the Department of Health and Human Services and appointed by the director of CDC.

Dr. Mercer previously served as senior advisor and health scientist in CDC’s Office of the Chief Science Officer, as a health scientist and deputy director of CDC’s Office of Science and Extramural Research, and as a fellow in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. In these roles, she explored ways to increase the quality and use of evidence-based recommendations for policy and practice, and she assessed the value of using participatory research approaches—which engage those who are intended to use the research in shaping, undertaking, and interpreting the research so that it meets real-world needs.
Before coming to CDC, Dr. Mercer conducted research at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, exploring decision making about breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer screening and genetic screening for cancer; assessing physician and patient education; and assessing support needs for cancer and AIDS patients. Dr. Mercer also served as the evaluation coordinator for one of the first population-based breast cancer screening programs in the world—the Ontario Breast Screening Program, which was charged with providing screening for 9 million women in Ontario.

Dr. Mercer has a master’s degree in health behavior from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and a doctoral degree in epidemiology from the University of Toronto. Her work focuses on expanding the evidence base for public health practice and policymaking, learning how to build better bridges and understanding between research and practice and policy, and understanding the value of participatory approaches for translating knowledge into action.

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