About EPA

Kenneth Olden, PhD, Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment

Dr. Ken Olden joined the National Center for Environmental Assessment in July 2012 with a strong legacy of promoting scientific excellence in environmental health. From 1991-2005, Ken served as the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ken made history in this role as the first African American to direct one of the National Institutes of Health. In 2005, he returned to his research position as chief of The Metastasis Group in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis at the NIEHS, and for academic year 2006-2007, held the position of Yerby Visiting Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Most recently, Ken served as the Founding Dean of the School of Public Health at the Hunter College, City University of New York.

He has published extensively in peer-reviewed literature, chaired or co-chaired numerous national and international meetings, and has been an invited speaker, often a keynote, at more than 200 symposia. Ken has won a long list of honors and awards including the Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award, the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award for sustained extraordinary accomplishments, the Toxicology Forum’s Distinguished Fellow Award, the HHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award, the American College of Toxicology’s First Distinguished Service Award, and the National Minority Health Leadership Award. 

Alone among institute directors, he was awarded three of the most prestigious awards in public health--the Calver Award (2002), the Sedgwick Medal (2004), and the Julius B. Richmond Award (2005).  Most recently, he received the Cato T. Laurencin MD, PhD Lifetime Research Award from the National Medical Association Institute, the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States. He was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences in 1994 and appointed member of the Visiting Committee for the Harvard University Board of Overseers from 2007-2010.

Dr. Olden holds the following degrees:

  • Temple Univeristy, Philadelphia, P.H.D., Cell Biology and Biochemistry, 1970.
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, M.S., Genetics.
  • Knoxville College, B.S., Biology.   

Additionally, Ken has numerous honorary degrees from several prestigious colleges and universities.