Obama Selects Frieden as CDC Director


thomas-friedenPresident Barack Hussein Obama has selected Dr. Thomas Frieden to lead the country’s top public health agency. Frieden is expected to be named Friday as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 48-year-old Frieden has served as New York City’s health commissioner for the past seven years. He is known to many in the frum community for his involvement in a campaign that unfairly targeted the world renowned mohel, Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, and attempts to ban the practice of metzitzah b’peh in New York State.As commissioner, Frieden spearheaded a campaign to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.

Frieden is expected to take office next month. His appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

Bloomberg On Frieden’s Departure
In response to President Obama’s announcement that he has poached yet another of his top people to work in Washington, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the departure of city Health Commissioner Frieden to head the CDC will be the city’s loss “but the nation – and the world’s – gain.”

Bloomberg apparently has a successor in mind for Freiden, who has been mayor’s partner when it comes to such high-profile and controversial public health initiatives as the smoking and trans-fat bans. The mayor says in his statement that he will be announcing his new health commissioner next week.

For those keeping count, the Bloomberg administration has now lost two top people to Obama: Frieden, who, after spending seven years in his post was the city’s longest-serving health commissioner, and former Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan, who is now the head of HUD.

Obama called Frieden “an expert in preparedness and response to health emergencies” and said “his experiences confronting public health challenges in our country and abroad will be essential in this new role.”

Here’s the mayor’s statement:
” People use the phrase second-to-none a lot these days, but when it comes to aggressive, innovative and effective approaches to help people live better, longer lives, our Health Commissioner Tom Frieden really stands in a class by himself.”

“That’s why it’s no surprise that President Obama has decided to appoint Dr. Frieden to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a decision which, to use another familiar phrase, is New York City’s loss but the nation’s – and the world’s – gain.”

“New York City has been a pacesetter in public health policy for generations, and long before I entered public life, I supported innovative public health policies at my alma mater and other non-for-profits.”

“Public health is a passion of mine, and because of Tom’s leadership and the hard work of the men and women at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New Yorkers are living longer.”

“We have 350,000 fewer smokers among our friends, neighbors and loved ones. We now boast the nation’s most extensive community-based electronic health record system. We’ve taken steps against trans-fats and have more information about the calorie content in our foods. New Yorkers get far more cancer screenings. At least as importantly, we also have a data system that will hold us all accountable for continued progress.”

“I want to thank Tom for his outstanding service to New York City. His seven years here are the longest tenure of any Health Commissioner in 50 years. I also want to thank him for working with his successor – New York City’s next Health Commissioner, who I will announce next week – to ensure that there will be a smooth transition of leadership next month at the Health Department.”

“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. President Obama could not have selected a better person to lead the Centers for Disease Control to meet the challenges ahead and make the nation a healthier place.”

Statement of Dr. Frieden:

“It has been a unique honor and privilege to be Mayor Bloomberg’s Health Commissioner and none of our health progress would have been possible without the Mayor’s leadership. I have loved serving New Yorkers as Health Commissioner and am sorry to be leaving one of the greatest jobs in the world. I thank my wonderful colleagues at the Health Department for their creativity, dedication, and hard work, and I look forward to continuing to learn from them as they, my successor, and Mayor Bloomberg continue set the model and pace for public health progress. I am deeply honored and privileged to be selected for this position, and I look forward to learning from and working with the wonderful staff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

President Obama’s statement:
“America relies on a strong public health system and the work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is critical to our mission to preserve and protect the health and safety of our citizens. 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 in the establishment of electronic health records. 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.”

“Secretary Sebelius and I thank Acting CDC Director Dr. Rich Besser and the women and men throughout the CDC for their superb work, especially over the past weeks. Dr. Besser has led the CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response for the past four years, and those preparations were essential during the recent H1N1 flu detection and response activities. We are very pleased he will continue in that role.”

Frieden will begin his work at the CDC in early June.

Dr. Frieden has been Commissioner of the New York City Health Department, one of the nation’s largest public health agencies, since January 2002. He has led efforts that reduced the number of smokers by 350,000 and cut teen smoking in half. New York City has also increased cancer screening, improved collection and availability of information on community health, and implemented the largest community electronic health records project in the country. Dr. Frieden and his team have responded effectively to several urgent health problems including cases of anthrax, plague and, most recently, H1N1 influenza. Dr.Frieden worked for CDC from 1990 to 2002. In the early 1990s, as a CDC Epidemiologic Intelligence Service Officer, Dr. Frieden investigated a wide range of issues including the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Following that, along with then NYC Health Commissioner and current Food and Drug Administration head nominee Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Dr. Frieden led the effort that stopped the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Following that, Dr. Frieden helped the Indian government establish a tuberculosis control program which has now saved more than one million lives. Dr. Frieden, who received his MD and MPH degrees from Columbia University and completed infectious disease training at Yale University has written more than 200 scientific articles and received numerous awards and honors.

{Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter/News Agencies}