January 10, 2009

Disease Control Centers chief quitting

Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, says she is leaving her post to make way for President-elect Barack Obama's team.

Gerberding and other senior CDC leaders are submitting their resignations effective Jan. 20, the day Obama is sworn into office, CNN reported Saturday. CDC employees were notified of the resignations by e-mail Friday evening.

William H. Gimson III, the CDC's chief operating officer, is to act as interim head of the agency until Obama names a new senior leader, CNN reported.

It was not known what Gerberding's next career move might be. Gerberding and Gimson were traveling and unavailable for comment, the network said.

As Dr. Gerberding noted in a November e-mail to CDC leadership, she has always expected that she would be leaving after the administration changes, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted the written statement as saying.

Gerberding was the first woman to head the agency, which has about 9,000 government employees and 5,000 contract workers, the Journal-Constitution noted. She held the post for six years, weathering allegations she allowed politics to become entangled with science and that under her watch the agency's ability to respond to public health crises was diminished, the newspaper said

Gerberding countered that changes she initiated made the CDC stronger and better able to do its job. She pointed to the agency's success in responding to outbreaks of SARS and monkeypox, as well as its research into avian influenza and other diseases.