Meet the Scientist: Vincent (Vince) Radke

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Vince Radke

The NCEH/ATSDR “Meet the Scientist” series provides insight into the work of NCEH/ATSDR scientists. The series also aims to give you a sense of the talented people who are working to keep you safe and secure from things in the environment that threaten our nation’s health. Read on to learn more about CDC’s only sanitarian, who was part of the smallpox eradication program and is now also an avid ballroom dancer: Vincent (Vince) J. Radke.

One of CDC’s Few Sanitarians

Vince is a Registered Sanitarian and a Certified Professional in Food Safety who holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Pittsburgh. “Due to an old government job series title, I’m one of the few employees here at CDC with the title sanitarian.” Sanitarians are also now known as “Environmental Health Specialists” at federal, state, or local levels. They specialize in areas of environmental health, such as



Dr. Benjamin A. Rubin of Wyeth Laboratories, invented and patented the bifurcated needle in July 1965, and developed it in conjunction with Reading Textile Machine Company. Smallpox vaccine is unique in that it is not administered by injection. It’s administered with a two-pronged, or bifurcated needle into the superficial layer of the skin.

Photo, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • food safety
  • drinking water safety
  • insect (vector) control
  • solid waste
  • radiation
  • recreational water safety (keeping water we swim in safe)
  • hazardous waste
  • disaster preparedness and response

Vince has worked at CDC since 2001. He stated, “For the first eight years at CDC, I was part of the Environmental Health Specialist Network (EHS-Net). I worked on a number of research studies regarding foodborne illness. Prior to CDC, I spent 22 years in the environmental health field at the state and local levels in Connecticut, West Virginia, Virginia, and Minnesota.” Currently, I spend my time developing and improving CDC training tools for state, local, tribal and territorial environmental health specialists in the areas of general environmental health, vector control, and emergency preparedness and response.”

Champion of Smallpox Eradication

Many decades ago, Vince was part of a smallpox eradication program. He shared that, “in the 1970s I was part of the Smallpox Eradication Program, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia as a surveillance and assessment officer. Later I was with the World Health Organization (WHO) working on smallpox eradication in Bangladesh and Kenya. In 1976, I received the Order of the Bifurcated Needle by WHO for my work towards the global eradication of smallpox.”

Photo courtesy Vincent J. Radke

Recipient of Public Health Awards

Vince has earned numerous awards and much recognition for his many years of work in public health. For example, in 2011 Vince received an EPA Bronze Medal Award. In 2012, the Delta Omega National Honor Society for Schools of Public Health, Omicron Chapter, recognized Vince for his outstanding achievements in public health and inducted him as a member. Vince also received the 2013 Walter F. Snyder Award from National Sanitation Foundation International for achievement in advancing environmental health. Moreover, he also received the 2013 Past Presidents Award from the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). Vince received this in recognition of longstanding service and contributions to NEHA and the environmental health profession.

Vince and Marilyn Radke participate in the “Hotlanta Dance Challenge.” Photo courtesy of the Radkes.
Vince and Marilyn Radke participate in the “Hotlanta Dance Challenge.” Photo courtesy of the Radkes.

A Dancing Machine!

Aside from his daily role as a CDC scientist, Vince
has a passion for dancing! He and his wife, Marilyn, who also works at CDC, have earned several awards in dance. Might “Dancing with the Stars” be in their future?

Last year, Vince and Marilyn each passed the Student Medal Tests of the United States Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in 16 dances. The Radkes danced as an amateur couple but also were judged as individuals. Vince and Marilyn each passed the International Style Ballroom Medal Tests at the Bronze and Silver levels in Waltz, Quickstep, Foxtrot, and Tango. Next, they each passed the Latin American Medal Tests at the Bronze and Silver levels in Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, and Jive. Vince and Marilyn each received 16 medals.

Hope you enjoyed reading about Vince Radke. Interested in other Meet the Scientist conversations and NCEH/ATSDR accomplishments? Visit the NCEH/ATSDR Your Health, Your Environment blog!

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Page last reviewed: January 13, 2014
Page last updated: January 13, 2014