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NYC health chief appointed CDC director

May 15, 2009 at 8:54 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said he appointed New York City Health Department Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden as director of the Centers for Disease Control.

The acting CDC director, Dr. Rich Besser, who has led the center's Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response for four years, will return to that post, the White House said Friday in a news release.

"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," Obama said. "Dr. Frieden is an expert in preparedness and response to health emergencies ... (and) has been a leader in the fight for healthcare reform ... ."

Frieden will begin his work at the CDC in Atlanta in June. He has been New York's health commissioner since January 2002 and worked for the CDC from 1990 to 2002.

Obama praised Besser's leadership on the nation's H1N1 flu response, thanking the acting director and CDC personnel for their work during the past several weeks.

"Dr. Besser has led the CDC's Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response for the past four years," Obama said, "and those preparations were essential during the recent H1N1 flu detection and response activities."

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