Wellington Onyenwe, PhD, MPH

Wellington Onyenwe is currently serving as a Health Scientist, Environmental Toxicologist and Public Health Emergency Responder at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as consulting ongoing research projects with the Environmental Protection Agency/Food and Drug Administration. His talents have led him to lend technical assistance to Exposure Science and Emergency Response matters including the Ebola, Zika, Flint, Monkeypox, EVALI Responses, amongst other projects, in various capacities and roles.

Dr. Onyenwe completed his undergraduate course work with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Molecular Toxicology at the University of California-Berkeley, College of Natural Resources and a Masters of Public Health Degree in Environmental Health Sciences and Toxicology at Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health. His doctoral degree concentration unified the disciplines of Public Health Promotion & Behavior and Environmental Toxicology at Georgia State University, School of Public Health.

His dissertation entitled, “Patterns of Tobacco Product Use in the US Population using the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study”, examined behavioral patterns associated with tobacco product use in a longitudinal cohort of adolescents and adults. The research examined the chemical biomarker components of tobacco products, alongside rates of nicotine metabolism determined by cellular genetics. Dr. Onyenwe was not content with only exploring the “who/what/when/where/how”. In addition to these, his research explored the “why” (tobacco product initiation and switching) behind those who used smokeless, traditional-combustible and e-cigarette products, stratified demographically. The results provided insight into ways in which prevention strategies can be targeted to groups that are more likely to initiate and continue using tobacco products.

Prior to his arrival at the CDC Division of Laboratory sciences, Dr. Onyenwe served as an Environmental Justice Fellow at the CDC National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services. Before relocating to Atlanta, Dr. Onyenwe served as an Environmental Health Science and Toxicology Consultant for numerous non-profit organizations and government agencies across California. His professional background includes Forensic Toxicology/Criminalist Technician for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office-Criminalistics Laboratory Facilities in Northern California, along with experiences in environmental health/toxicology research projects at the Universities of California-Berkeley and Los Angeles, in addition to private organizations.

While pursuing public health, he also opened ShamisoFoods, LLC, a culinary company offering private chef experiences, catering and food products; a percentage of profits are donated toward the spreading of public health stewardship through projects across underrepresented/underserved communities. His Chef de Cuisine talents have led to many collaborations including appearances with Food Network and Discovery+. Outside of his two passions, Dr. Onyenwe is an avid mentor, Djembefola, master gardener and martial artist.



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