Sonja Rasmussen, M.D., M.S.

Sonja Rasmussen, M.D., M.S.


Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology

Contact Dr. Rasmussen


  • B.S. with Honors in Biology and Mathematics from University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN
  • M.S. in Medical Genetics from University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
  • M.D. with Honors from University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Professional Training

  • Resident in Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
  • Fellow in Clinical Genetics, Center for Medical Genetics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  • Fellow in Clinical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Genetics, University of Florida Health Science Center, Gainesville, FL

Professional Biography

Dr. Sonja Rasmussen is a Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the College of Medicine and the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida. Dr. Rasmussen recently joined the University of Florida after 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. While there, she provided significant scientific expertise and leadership. She held several positions in the National Center on Birth Defects and Development Disabilities including Medical Officer, Associate Director for Science, and Senior Scientist. While there, she worked collaboratively with other experts across CDC on pandemic planning efforts for pregnant women, and these efforts guided CDC recommendations for pregnant women during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. From 2011-2014, she served as Deputy Director of the Influenza Coordination Unit, which is responsible for CDC’s pandemic influenza preparedness from strategy through implementation, and for 6 months, served as the Acting Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR), the office responsible for CDC’s public health preparedness and response activities, including CDC’s Emergency Operations Center. From 2015-2018, she served as Editor-in-Chief of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Series and as the Director of the Division of Public Health Information Dissemination. In addition, she served in leadership roles during several CDC responses to public health emergencies.

Dr. Rasmussen’s research interests have focused on understanding causes of birth defects and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, the effects of medications during pregnancy on the fetus, morbidity and mortality related to genetic conditions, and the effects of infections during pregnancy on the pregnant woman and her fetus. She has authored or coauthored over 200 peer-reviewed papers and is the lead editor of The CDC Field Epidemiology Manual to be released by Oxford University Press in late 2018.

Dr. Rasmussen received her BS in Biology and Mathematics with magna cum laude honors from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, her MS degree in Medical Genetics from the University of Wisconsin, and her MD degree with honors from University of Florida. She completed her pediatrics residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and her fellowship in clinical genetics at Johns Hopkins and University of Florida. She is board certified in genetic counseling, pediatrics, and clinical genetics.

Clinical Interests

  • Birth defects and other adverse pregnancy outcomes
  • Morbidity and mortality related to genetic conditions
  • Effects of infections during pregnancy on the pregnant woman and her fetus

Honors & Awards

  • 2017 CSELS Honor Award, “Excellence in Program Evaluation” awarded to the Vital Signs Evaluation team (group award)
  • 2018 NCEZID Director’s Recognition Award for rigorous analysis of primary data and systematic reviews on botulism, yielding a comprehensive set of fifteen articles to guide clinicians in diagnosing and treating this life-threatening disease (group award)
  • 2018 Induction into Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, Johns Hopkins University
  • 2018 Induction into the Delta Omega National Honorary Society in Public Health at the University of Georgia (Beta Chi chapter)
  • 2018 Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society Visiting Professorship, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University