President Obama on Friday named Dr. Thomas Frieden as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Frieden has served as New York City’s health commissioner for the past seven years. In that time, he spearheaded a campaign to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, boosted the number of New Yorkers getting HIV tests and helped to distribute millions of free condoms.
Frieden also worked for the CDC from 1990 to 2002 in part as a CDC Epidemiologic Intelligence Service Officer, where he investigated the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
In a statement, the president acknowledged Frieden’s work in emergency preparedness.
“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. 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,” Obama said.
Frieden takes the place of Richard Besser, who was the acting director and managed the CDC response to the H1N1 outbreak. As part of his job, Frieden will determine whether or how to produce a swine flu vaccine. On Friday, the government announced the fourth person in the U.S. who died of the flu.
Besser will retain his post as head of the CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.
Frieden, 48, is expected to take office next month. His appointment does not require Senate confirmation.