Thomas R. Frieden Becomes Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., today became the 16th director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and administrator for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). He was named director of CDC by the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services on May 15.
Dr. Frieden, 48, has been the director of the New York City (NYC) Health Department since 2002. He is an infectious disease expert and has lead initiatives that support wellness and prevention. He 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.
In a May 15 White House press release, President Obama praised Dr. Frieden for his efforts in NYC and stated: “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, obesity, and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS, and in the establishment of electronic health records. Dr. Frieden has been a leader for health care reform, and his experiences confronting public health challenges in our country and abroad will be essential in his new role."
“Dr. Frieden is widely regarded as one of the premier public health experts in the world and has a wealth of experience in public health and science,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "Dr. Frieden has a strong track record as a public health innovator and leader, which will serve CDC well as it continues to meet the nation's public health needs."
“I’m excited about the opportunity to lead CDC - the depth and breadth of knowledge at CDC is enormous,” Dr. Frieden said. “President Obama and Secretary Sebelius recognize the importance of prevention – something CDC does well. Both are committed to prevention as a key component of health reform, as evidenced by the Recovery Act, and have highlighted the need for our society to do more to prevent, manage, and treat chronic diseases.”
Dr. Frieden 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. He is married with two children.
The CDC is the nation's disease prevention and wellness promotion agency, protecting people's health and safety, providing credible information to enhance health decisions, and improving health through strong partnerships. The agency includes 18 institutes, centers and offices, with approximately 14,000, full time, part-time and contract employees. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and in 54 countries. Its fiscal year 2009 budget is $6.7 billion with an additional $3.4 billion for the Vaccines for Children program.
Biography of Thomas R. Frieden:
Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, has served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene since January 2002. One of the world’s oldest and largest public health agencies, the department has an annual budget of $1.7 billion and more than 6,000 staff. During his tenure, the number of smokers declined by 350,000, teen smoking decreased by half, and New York City became the first place in the United States to eliminate trans–fats from restaurants, rigorously monitor the diabetes epidemic, and require certain restaurants to post calorie information prominently. Under Dr. Frieden’s leadership, the department established the largest community electronic health records project in the country. Dr. Frieden also chairs the New York City Board of Health.
A physician with training in internal medicine, infectious diseases, public health, and epidemiology, Dr. Frieden is especially known for his expertise in tuberculosis control. Dr. Frieden worked for CDC from 1990 until 2002. He began his career at CDC as an Epidemiologic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer at the New York City Health Department. In that role, he led a program that rapidly reduced tuberculosis, including reducing cases of multidrug–resistant tuberculosis, by 80 percent. He then worked in India for five years where he assisted with national tuberculosis control efforts. The program in India has now treated more than 10 million patients and has saved more than one million lives. Dr. Frieden also served as Director of the Bureau of Tuberculosis Control and Assistant Commissioner for the New York City Health Department from 1992 to 1996.
Dr. Frieden speaks Spanish and graduated from Oberlin College. He received both his medical degree and master’s of public health degree from Columbia University and completed infectious disease training at Yale University. He has received numerous awards and honors and has published about 200 scientific articles.