Dr. Julie Gerberding, First Female CDC Director, Resigns

January 14, 2009

Last week, Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, submitted her letter of resignation, effective January 20. Gerberding has held the position since 2002. She was the first woman director of the CDC, and has been listed by Forbes as one of the “100 Most Powerful Women.” According to reports, her resignation was one of several requested as part of the transition process.

Articles on Gerberding’s resignation have referred to her legacy as “mixed” and “fractured,” citing concerns about the agency’s approach to politicized science topics such as Gerberding’s testimony on climate change and health, her approach to reorganizing and running the agency, and the response to concerns about toxins in FEMA trailers after hurricane Katrina.

On the blog Effect Measure, one editor clearly expresses enthusiasm for the resignation:

“Gerberding has been accused — correctly in our opinion — of politicizing the agency, destroying CDC’s morale, reorganizing its structure and its priorities to within an inch of its useful life, and failing to defend the agency and public health in general in the face of a systematic onslaught by the Bush administration.”

A thread on the resignation at the CDC Chatter blog (an unofficial site for those interested in the agency) has already generated around 100 comments, largely from CDC employees reacting to the news.

Reuters has a list of other health agency heads who will be replaced by the incoming administration. Health and Human Services appointee Tom Daschle will be responsible for naming permanent new heads of the CDC and other agencies. For now, William Gimson is acting director of the CDC, and Frank Torti is acting commissioner of the FDA.

Comments are closed.