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Matthew McKenna, MD, MPH

Division Director
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of Preventive Medicine


Dr. Matthew T. McKenna is Director of Emory University’s Division of Preventive Medicine, and also serves as Professor of Medicine in Emory’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.  He has extensive experience in public health and preventive medicine. From 1989 – 2010, he worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and before joining the Emory faculty he was the Medical Director for the Fulton County (the county where the city of Atlanta is located) Department of Health and Wellness from 2010 to 2015. Dr. McKenna is a graduate of the Emory University School of Medicine, and he completed his residency in Family Medicine and a post-doctoral fellowship in epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. McKenna joined CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service Program in 1989 and completed the CDC residency in General Preventive Medicine and Public Health in 1992. He subsequently assumed positions of increasing responsibility throughout his career working in a wide range of areas such as Cancer Control, Tuberculosis, HIV and his last position at CDC was as the Director of the Office on Smoking and Health. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine.  A Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service during 1989 – 2010, Dr. McKenna held the grade of Medical Director (CAPTAIN: O6).

Though most of his prevention work has involved the demographic and social determinants of health, Dr. McKenna continued to practice primary care throughout his career with a focus on persons infected with HIV. In his current position he also continues to provide medical services to patients in the Emory Family Medicine clinic, and he is committed to engaging a full spectrum of health care providers in the learning and practice of health care prevention and population health. He also continues to serve on the editorial and advisory boards for a variety of public health journals and publications, and works hard to use his bicycles as a primary mode of transportation whenever possible.

Research Interests

Dr. Matthew McKenna was the primary investigator on a Diabetes Prevention Program grant from the American College of Preventive Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grant supported an investigation of the response of patients at high risk of diabetes to being offered a referral to a lifestyle oriented diabetes prevention program. The results were presented as part of a day long symposium held at the national American College of Preventive Medicine meeting in May of 2017. This funding facilitated the Department’s involvement in the convening of an Emory wide steering committee to development of an implementation and evaluation plan to implement the Diabetes Prevention Program for eligible Emory employees, and eventually, patients seen at clinical sites.

Dr. McKenna also continues to collaborate with researchers at the CDC, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and is currently participating in an analyses of national data to assess the impact of cancer death rates among immigrant populations in the United States to discern if these dynamics are impacting overall trends in these diseases. The results of this analysis were recently presented at the national American Public Health Association in Atlanta.

He is also actively working on approaches to educate clinicians and non-preventive medicine professionals regarding the use and interpretation of epidemiologic methods, particularly regarding the interpretation of measures of association such as the odds ratio, and the classification and interpretation of epidemiologic studies.