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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NHLBI’s Martin Finds Her Calling in the PHS

Standing in uniform, Lieutenant Commander Iman Martin conducts an ensemble.

Among her many talents, Dr. Iman Martin conducts the surgeon general’s music ensemble.

Her bags are packed as she awaits word of her next assignment. NHLBI’s Dr. Iman Martin is an active duty lieutenant commander in the Public Health Service, ready to assist local health authorities during national disasters.

“[I’m part of] an interdisciplinary team of health workers and mental health providers that deploy not only during a catastrophe but also throughout the recovery period of a catastrophe, and we help people reconnect with life after they’ve been through it,” she said.

When she deploys, Martin works on a services access team (SAT). Under the aegis of the HHS National Response Framework’s emergency support function, these teams provide a range of emergency health, social services and medical support.

“We have interdisciplinary rapid deployment assets that swoop in when the emergency is happening,” she said. “I applied to be on this team, in particular, in 2016 because it serves people through all disaster phases: preparatory, rescue and recovery. I felt that was my calling.”

Martin has deployed many times in her 5 years in the PHS, including on a SAT supporting the Hurricane Irma and Maria responses and multiple missions to West Africa during the Ebola crisis.

Most recently, she was deployed on a Covid-19-related mission in early February in cooperation with HHS’s Administration for Children and Families. Stationed in Nebraska, Martin was among a team of officers who oversaw the quarantine of Americans returning from Wuhan, China. She helped attend to their health needs during quarantine and repatriation.

Back at NIH, she supports the efforts of the Blood Division at NHLBI by helping manage a grant and contract portfolio in blood science and may be called at any time for another deployment. 

Before coming to NIH, Martin spent more than a decade working and training in epidemiology in sub-Saharan Africa and remains dedicated to addressing global health issues. She is especially proud to be a PHS officer with the opportunity to serve at NIH. 

“It’s something special about our country,” Martin said, “that we have the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, this more than 200-year-old asset to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of our nation.”—Dana Talesnik

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