EPA Appoints PROTECT’s Cordero and Veléz Vega to Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee

L>R: Dr. José Cordero and Dr. Carmen (Mili) Veléz Vega

On May 20th, the EPA announced the appointment of PROTECT Researchers José Cordero and Carmen (Mili) Veléz Vega among 26 other members to the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC), out of a pool of 60 highly qualified candidates. The CHPAC is a body of external representatives from research, academia, healthcare, legal, state, environmental organizations and local and tribal governments. CHPAC members reflect the geographic, gender, ethnicity, and stakeholder diversity of all 10 EPA regions and a variety of communities across our country. The goal of CHPAC is to advise the EPA on regulations, research, and communications related to children’s environmental health.[1] CHPAC members serve for 3 year terms and have a significant impact on decisions involving children’s health within the agency.

Mili is currently a Professor of Social Determinants of Health at UPR Medical Sciences Campus, and has been working in the field of social work, public health, and social policy for her entire career. She earned her BSW in Social Work and MSW in Clinical Social work from Florida State University and her PhD in Social Policy Research and Analysis from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. Her research focuses on the relevance of the social determinants of health for understanding health inequity that leads to health disparities. In addition to this, Mili is a member of the National Association for Community Health Centers LGBT Taskforce, where she has participated as a political and social activist for LGBT populations in Puerto Rico and has worked extensively in the legal struggle to include children of LGBT under equal protection as children of heterosexual parents. Currently, she is a community engagement leader and principal investigator within the PROTECT, CRECE, and ECHO projects, which focus on the relationship with environmental exposure and children health outcomes.

José is currently a Patel Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the College of Public Health at University of Georgia, as well as the co-director and lead of the Human Subject and Sampling Core at PROTECT and co-director of CRECE. He has worked as a pediatrician, epidemiologist, and teratologist throughout his career and spent 27 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Public Health Service. While at the CDC, he contributed in the development of the National Immunization Program, serving as its first Deputy Director, and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, where he served as Founding Director. José has devoted his career to understanding the causes of environmental factors that impact human fetal development and how that leads to serious adverse pregnancy outcomes such as major birth defects and developmental disabilities leading to lifelong disability.

This appointment is a reinstatement of José’s membership and Mili’s first term as a member. Additionally, we would like to recognize that PROTECT researcher Gredia Huerta-Montanez will be departing from CHPAC after serving for 6 years as a member. “This is a great example of the impact our Consortium in PROTECT/ECHO/CRECE is having in environmental public policy on a sustained basis,” says José.

Congratulations, José and Mili!


[1] https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-appoints-new-members-childrens-health-protection-advisory-committee