Friday, May 15, 2009

Obama Names NYC Health Commissioner to Head CDC

President Obama has named Dr. Thomas Frieden, currently commissioner of the New York City Health Department, to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frieden, who will start his new job in June, has run one of the nation's largest public health agencies, in New York, since January 2002. Frieden served at the CDC from 1990 to 2002, at one point investigating issues such as a spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

In New York City, Frieden oversaw the implementation of smoke-free laws and rules requiring national restaurant chains to post calorie information on their menu boards. He co-authored an April 30 "Perspective" piece in the New England Journal of Medicine that reviewed the experience of places that have enacted soda taxes. The study showed that every 10% increase in soft drink prices results in a 7.8% drop in consumption. The White House credited Friedman with leading efforts to reduce smoking, increase cancer screening and combat AIDS.

Dr. Rich Besser, who has served as acting CDC director, will stay to run the Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, which he has overseen for four years. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the president both praised Besser for his handling of the H1N1 flu epidemic, which during his interim status spread from 20 known cases inside the United States to 4,298 confirmed or probable cases, but only three deaths.


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