Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, 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.
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. 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 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," 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."
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. long with then NYC Health Commissioner and current US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Frieden led the effort that stopped the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis in NYC in the mid-1990s. Following that, Frieden helped the Indian government establish a tuberculosis control program which has now saved more than one million lives. As NYC Health Commissioner,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 percent, improved collection and availability of information on community health, and implemented the nation's largest community electronic health records project. Frieden and this team have responded effectively to several urgent health problems, including cases of anthrax, plague, and, most recently novel H1N1 influenza.
Frieden earned his BA degree at Oberlin College in Ohio and his MD 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.