We now know who will be running the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention. The President has announced his pick to lead CDC is New York City’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Frieden.
Dr. Rich Besser, who has been acting director since the new Administration took office, will return to his role as head of the CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.
"America relies on a strong public health system and the work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is critical to our mission to preserve and protect the health and safety of our citizens, President Obama said. "Dr. Frieden is an expert in preparedness and response to health emergencies, and has been at the forefront of the fight against heart disease, cancer and obesity, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS, and in the establishment of electronic health records. Dr. Frieden has been a leader in the fight for health care reform, and his experiences confronting public health challenges in our country and abroad will be essential in this new role."
Dr. Frieden will actually be returning to the CDC. He left there in 2002 to head the Big Apple’s health department. Dr.Frieden worked for CDC from 1990 to 2002. In the early 1990s, as a CDC Epidemiologic Intelligence Service Officer, Dr. Frieden investigated a wide range of issues including the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
In New York, he led efforts that reduced the number of smokers by 350,000 and cut teen smoking in half. New York City has also increased cancer screening, reduced AIDS deaths by 40 percent improved collection and availability of information on community health, and implemented the largest community electronic health records project in the country.
Dr. Frieden and his team have responded effectively to several urgent health problems including cases of anthrax, plague and, most recently, H1N1 influenza.
Along with then NYC Health Commissioner and current Food and Drug Administration head nominee Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Dr. Frieden led the effort that stopped the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Following that, Dr. Frieden helped the Indian government establish a tuberculosis control program which has now saved more than one million lives.
Dr. Frieden, who received his MD and MPH degrees from Columbia University and completed infectious disease training at Yale University has written more than 200 scientific articles and received numerous awards and honors.