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Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, FACP

Esther Chernak

Associate Research Professor, Director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication
Environmental and Occupational Health
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AB, Comparative Literature, Princeton University;MD, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School


Dr. Esther Chernak was appointed Director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication at the Drexel University School of Public Health in October 2010. She is an Associate Research Professor in the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health. From 2007 through July 2009, she was the Medical Director for the Acute Communicable Disease Control Program for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health where she was responsible for communicable disease surveillance and outbreak investigations in the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control. From 1999 to 2008, she led the development of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and oversaw public health emergency preparedness planning, training, and exercises for the City. Under her leadership, the department initiated critical activities such as planning for pandemic influenza, mass prophylaxis, and outreach to community-based organizations that serve vulnerable populations. In that position, she played a central role in launching enhanced surveillance programs, a health alert network, a preparedness website for public health partners, and department-wide training in public health preparedness. She also chaired several multidisciplinary task forces to coordinate public health emergency preparedness planning and response in the Philadelphia metropolitan area that were comprised of public health, law enforcement, emergency management, healthcare, and other public safety officials.

Dr. Chernak has over 19 years of experience in public health practice. She was the Clinical Director of HIV Services for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Division of Ambulatory Health Services, a system of primary healthcare centers that provide care to the city’s uninsured and underinsured population. She has also worked as a public health physician in acute communicable disease epidemiology, a clinician in HIV, Sexually Transmitted Disease and Tuberculosis Control programs, and served as the Medical Director for the Montgomery County Health Department in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Research Interests

  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Infectious Disease
  • Public Health Practice
  • Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication
  • Medicine and Public Health


Patel A.,Burke C., Chernak E, Lewis F, Nguyen M, Madera R, Newbern C, Johnson C. Epidemiology of Infant Salmonellosis, Philadelphia, PA – 2008-2010, 48th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America, October 2010, Vancouver, Canada (abstract)

W. Tsou, E. Chernak. Planning and Budgeting. In: Levy B. editor, Mastering Public Health – Essential Skills for Effective Practice. Oxford University Press. In press. (book chapter)

Lynch, P. Ross, E. Chernak, A. Patel. Influenza Prevention and Control in Long-Term Care Facilities – Philadelphia, 2008. 137th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, November 2009, Philadelphia, PA (abstract)