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Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, FACP

Esther Chernak

Clinical Professor, Director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication
Environmental and Occupational Health
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MD, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
MPH, Medical College of Wisconsin
AB, Comparative Literature, Princeton University


Dr. Esther Chernak is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Environmental Health, Drexel University School of Public Health, and the Drexel University College of Medicine. She is the director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication (CPHRC) at Drexel. 

Her academic work focuses on initiatives that enhance public health and health care capacity at the local and state level, improve the preparedness of at-risk communities, build community resilience through partnerships between public health and community health care and social service organizations, and facilitate emergency risk communication. She currently leads a mixed methods study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that focuses on the disaster communication needs of children with special health care challenges. At the College of Medicine, Dr. Chernak directs “Frontiers,” a required course in population health sciences for medical students in the pre-clinical years in the new “Foundations and Frontiers” curriculum.

Dr. Chernak is the director for the MD/MPH dual degree program at Drexel University. She also oversees a graduate minor in Infectious Diseases at the School of Public Health, and has taught courses in global health, public health preparedness, infectious diseases, and environmental health.

Prior to joining the Drexel faculty in 2010, Dr. Chernak worked at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health for over 25 years, serving in a variety of positions, including Medical Director and Program Manager of the Acute Communicable Disease Control and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Programs. In these roles, she oversaw communicable disease surveillance for the City of Philadelphia and emergency preparedness initiatives such as pandemic planning, information sharing with clinical and public health partners, and public information and warning.

Dr. Chernak is a board-certified physician in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. She also currently works as a physician in Philadelphia’s community-based primary care safety-net health system.


Research Interests

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


Recent Publications

  1. Hipper T, Orr A, Chernak E.Are Human Service Agencies Ready for Disasters? Findings from a Mixed Methods Needs Assessment and Planning Project. Health Security, March/April 2015, volume 13(2).

  2. Peters R, Hipper T, Chernak E. Primary Care Medical Practices – Are Community Healthcare Providers Ready for Disasters? Disaster Medicine Public Health Preparedness, February 2018 available at

  3. Hipper T,Davis R, Turchi R, Massey P, Lubell K, Pechta L, Rose D, Franks F, Brisenio L, Wolner A, Chernak E. The Disaster Information Needs of Families of Children with Special Healthcare Needs: A Scoping Review. Health Security, May/June 2018, volume 16(3).

  4. E. Chernak. Planning and Budgeting in Public Health Emergencies.  In: Levy B. editor, Mastering Public Health – Essential Skills for Effective Practice.  Oxford University Press.  2012. (book chapter)

  5. Cynthia F. Hinton,Stephanie E. Griese,Michael R. AndersonEsther ChernakGeorgina PeacockPhoebe G. Thorpe,; Nicole Lurie.”CDC Grand Rounds: Addressing Preparedness Challenges for Children in Public Health Emergencies.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, September 11, 2015/64(35);972-974.

  6. Purtle J, Field RI, Hipper T, Nash-Arot J, Chernak, E, Buehler JW. The Impact of Law on Syndromic Disease Surveillance Implementation, Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 2017;  (published ahead of print). 

    For additional information about the work of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication, please go to