Dr. Melissa Mercado


Lead Behavioral Scientist

Dr. Melissa C. Mercado is a Lead Behavioral Scientist in the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. As an expert in youth and community violence, and bullying prevention, she is part of the federal inter-agency StopBullying.gov Editorial Board, and oversees the CDC Youth Violence Prevention Centers’ network. Dr. Mercado served in the internationally recognized Epidemic Intelligence Service, leads gaming and online communities’ research for violence prevention, and recently completed her tenure as an elected member of the CDC Latino/Hispanic Health Work Group Executive Committee.

Dr. Mercado has worked in the non-profit, public, and private sectors as a public health researcher and communicator for 20 years, conducting research on bullying, gaming and online communities, opioids and overdoses, self-harm and suicide, firearm violence, and youth violence.  Her research is characterized by an emphasis on community and racial/ethnic minority groups, and has been published in the media, at professional conferences, and high-impact peer review journals. Most recently, Dr. Mercado co-authored an MMWR Vital Signs publication (entitled Changes in Firearm Homicide and Suicide Rates — United States, 2019–2020) and an estimate assessment of US parents’ self-reported changes in concern about children’s bullying during the COVID-19 pandemic. While serving in CDC’s COVID-19 Response, Dr. Mercado led the conceptualization and development of the age-group specific, multi-lingual and resources-rich COVID-19 Parental Resource Kit, to help parents recognize and address children and youth’s social, emotional and mental health challenges during the pandemic.  

A native Spanish-speaker from Puerto Rico, Dr. Mercado has 30+ years of multicultural experience – including deployments during local, national and international public health emergencies. Dr. Mercado was recognized as a 2021 Outstanding Alumni at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, where she earned her PhD in Public Health (Community and Family Health / Maternal and Child Health) degree. She also holds two master’s degrees in epidemiology and communications.

Additional information can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/index.html.