Published: Mon, July 10, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Doctor Brenda Fitzgerald is the new CDC Director

Doctor Brenda Fitzgerald is the new CDC Director

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D., named Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., as the 17 Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Fitzgerald, 70, is an ob/gyn who worked in private practice for 30 years, taking her current post in 2011. Tom Frieden, her predecessor, says right now there are a number of public health challenges in the US and globally she'll face as director.

Dr. Frieden told STAT it will be critical for the new director to protect the agency's budget, which has been targeted in cuts proposed by the Trump administration. It would drive up health care costs. She has also been a major in the United States air force.

In Georgia, she has encouraged programs to encourage language development among babies, pushed anti-obesity initiatives and helped coordinate state efforts during the Ebola outbreak.

And she has been involved in partisan politics, having run twice for the Republican nomination for Georgia's 7th Congressional District in the early 1990s. She served as a health care policy adviser to U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Sen. "She's everywhere, every time I turn around", he says.

Fitzgerald has practiced medicine for about three decades in Carrollton, a city west of Atlanta. "The academic public health community looks forward to working constructively with Dr. Fitzgerald to advance our shared agenda of improving health locally, nationally, and globally".

Fitzgerald is a former Air Force Major, and now serves as the Public Health Commissioner for the state of Georgia.

In particular, staff of the CDC will be watching to see if Fitzgerald safeguards the CDC's worldwide work.

Fitzgerald drew headlines for a decision to rescind a job offer to a California physician initially offered a job as a North Georgia health director after reports surfaced about controversial sermons he made condemning gay rights and the theory of evolution.

She was the face of the Deal administration's effort to combat the spread of the Zika and Ebola viruses, and she helped reduce wait times for a program that provides lifesaving medications to thousands of uninsured Georgians with HIV or AIDS.

As other countries have built up their own disease surveillance capacity, they often use the name CDC - a testament to the reputation of the agency and the role it plays.

Dr. Fitzgerald holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from Georgia State University and a Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine. As a Major in the U.S. Air Force, Fitzgerald served at the Wurtsmith Air Force Strategic Air Command Base in MI and at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

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