Dr. Burgess is the Associate Dean for Research at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. His occupational and environmental health research has focused on the evaluation and prevention of injurious exposures to firefighters, miners, law enforcement officers, arsenic-exposed populations and American Indian populations. He has worked as an Emergency Medicine physician, Medical Toxicologist, and Occupational and Environmental Medicine physician. He serves as the co-chair of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Public Safety Sector Council and is a member of Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance, facilitated by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF).
Dr. Burgess has been collaborating with firefighters on health and safety research for over 25 years, encompassing respiratory protection, injury prevention, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Regarding cancer prevention, he partnered with the Tucson Fire Department on a recently completed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant which evaluated fireground exposures, cellular markers of cancer risk, and the effectiveness of fire department interventions to reduce exposures. He has also organized the Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study, also supported by FEMA and including a team of academic and government researchers, fire service agencies, and fire departments and locals across the country, to further evaluate exposures and identify epigenetic biomarkers of effect as potential links between exposures and the development of diseases such as cancer.