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Obama Appoints NYC Health Commissioner to Lead CDC

May 15, 2009

President Barack Obama announced on Friday that New York City health commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden would head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Frieden has headed one of the nation’s largest public health agencies since January 2002. He previously worked for the CDC beginning in 1990.

“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 and obesity, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS, and in the establishment of electronic health records,” Obama said in a statement.

Frieden, who is known for taking action to ban smoking in New York City workplaces, is scheduled to begin his new position at the CDC in Atlanta in early June.

“He has not backed away from the tough public health challenges and in doing so has helped the people he served lead healthier, longer lives,” added Dr. Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association.

Frieden is credited with reducing the city’s number of smokers by 350,000.

He also worked to ban trans fats from foods served in New York City restaurants and pushed for mandatory menu postings in most of the city’s restaurants.

“Dr. Frieden has been a leader in the fight for health care reform, and his experiences confronting public health challenges in our country and abroad will be essential in this new role,” the president’s statement read.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said President Obama “could not have selected a better person” to takeover control at the CDC.
“Dr. Frieden has demonstrated his talent and leadership over the past seven years, and we look forward to working with him in his new role in Atlanta,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Mr. Obama said acting director of the CDC, Dr. Richard Besser, would resume his job leading the CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.

“Dr Frieden is a consummate innovator,” Dr. Richard Besser, CDC’s acting director, told his staff in a Friday e-mail obtained by the Associated Press.

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