Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. took over as the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and administrator for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on Monday, June 8, 2009.
An infectious disease expert who has lead initiatives supporting wellness and prevention, Dr. Frieden replaces Dr. Richard Besser who has been the acting CDC director and acting ATSDR administrator since mid January. Dr. Besser returns to his role as director of CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.
Prior to assuming his new role, Dr. Frieden served as the director of the New York City (NYC) Health Department since 2002. He was a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer (EIS) from 1990 until 1992. He worked in NYC and investigated and fostered pubic awareness around tuberculosis, including strains of the bacteria with drug resistance. Along with then NYC Health Commissioner and current US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Dr. Frieden led the effort that stopped the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis in NYC in the mid 1990s. Following that, Dr. Frieden helped the Indian government establish a tuberculosis control program which has now saved more than one million lives. As NYC Health Commissioner, Dr. Frieden led efforts that reduced the number of smokers by 350,000 and cut teen smoking in half. NYC has also increased cancer screening, reduced AIDS deaths by 40%, improved collection and availability of information on community health, and implemented the nation’s largest community electronic health records project. Dr. Frieden and this team have responded effectively to several urgent health problems, including cases of anthrax, plague, and, most recently novel H1N1 influenza.
Dr. Frieden earned his B.A. degree at Oberlin College in Ohio and his M.D. degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He earned his Masters of Public Health (MPH) at Columbia University’s School of Public Health. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and sub-specialty training in infectious diseases at Yale University.
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