Office on Disability

Biography of Dr. Margaret Giannini, M.D., F.A.A.P.

A headshot image of Margaret J. Giannini, M.D., F.A.A.P

Honorable Margaret J. Giannini, M.D., F.A.A.P. was appointed October 1, 2002, Director of the Health and Human Service Office on Disability by Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. She serves as advisor to the Secretary on HHS activities relating to disabilities. Prior to becoming Director of the Office on Disability, Dr. Giannini was appointed by President George W. Bush as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging at the Department of Health and Human Services. From 1981-1992, Dr. Giannini was Deputy Assistant Chief Medical Director for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C. There her work focused on technology transfer and assistive technology involving all disabilities. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Dr. Giannini as the first Director of the National Institute of Handicapped Research, which was confirmed by the Senate in January of 1980. Dr. Giannini, in 1950, was the first to create the largest facility for mentally retarded and the developmentally disabled for all ages and etiologies in the United States and the world, which became the first University Center of Excellence on Developmental Disabilities.

Dr. Giannini is the recipient of many national and international awards from various organizations in recognition of her professional and humanitarian services and achievements. She was saluted by the Association for Pediatric Research; selected "Woman of the Year" for Achievement in Medicine and "Woman-Doer" by President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson; received the Wyeth Medical Achievement Award; the Seal of the Inner London Education Authority for Contributions in the Field of Mental Retardation at the House of Parliament London; and the Governor Hugh Carey Citation for Leadership and Medical Contributions to the State of New York; presented the First Honorary Degree by Mercy College Doctor of Humane Letters; the Meritorious Honor Award in Mental Retardation and awarded the Key to the City of Bologna, Italy; received the Bronze Medal Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics; the National Italian-American Foundation Award for Distinguished Achievements in Science and Medicine; "Recognition Plaque' from the City of San Francisco; Seton Award from Seton Hall College, Pittsburgh, PA; the First Presidential Award for Design Excellence from President Reagan; the N. Neal Pike Award for Service to the handicapped from Boston University; the Isabelle and Leonard H. Goldenson Award for Technology Application to Cerebral Palsy; President Reagan's Distinguished Service Award, Committee on Employment of the Handicapped; Silver helmet Award by AMVETS; is in the New York Hall of Fame (AHRC, '98); and was honored by the naming of the "Hon. Margaret J. Giannini, M.D. Physical Rehabilitation Pavilion" in 1997 at Westchester Special School, N.Y. First International Leadership Scholars Award by the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland in recognition for "International Programs in Rehabilitation and Disability."

Dr. Giannini has served on numerous national and international boards and chaired more than 61 international conferences on rehabilitation and developmental disabilities in many countries, including Israel, Italy, Spain, China, Russia, Argentina, India, Egypt and others. She also has served for many years as Chair of the Board of Trustees, the American University of Rome, Italy. She has published extensively and lectured nationally and internationally. Dr. Giannini has most recently edited "Behavioral Neurology in the Elderly," December 2001. She is also a Member of the Institute of Medicine of The National Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Last Revised: January 5, 2005