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Obama Appoints NYC Health Commissioner as CDC Director

President Obama announced his selection of Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, as director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Frieden, 48, had served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene since January 2002. The CDC, headquartered in Atlanta, monitors the outbreak of infectious diseases in the U.S. such as the current H1N1 (swine) flu; keeps track of data on other diseases, such hepatitis and hemophilia, and assists other countries in combating disease outbreaks such as avian influenza (bird flu) and Ebola. Frieden’s tenure at the CDC began this month. 

During his time in New York, Frieden was an ardent advocate of progressive health initiatives, such as wider AIDS testing, a smoking ban in  bars and restaurants, and establishing the largest community-based electronic health record system. Through Frieden’s initiative, NYC became the first city in the U.S. to ban trans fats in restaurant foods in July 2008.

“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,” the White House said in a statement. “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.”

Frieden received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College in Ohio. He received his medical degree and master’s of public health degree from Columbia University. He completed his infectious disease training at Yale University. Frieden has worked as an epidemiologist, administrator, teacher, researcher, clinician and community organizer. He is considered an expert on tuberculosis control. A prolific author, Frieden has published more than 200 scientific articles. Over the years, he has received many awards and honors.

Source: Reuters, May 15, 2009



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