Dr. Julie Gerberding tendered her resignation Friday at the request of the incoming Barack Obama administration. Dr. Gerberding has overseen a creeping influence of pro circumcision advocates and has suffered other criticism during her tenure under the Bush administration, including, to quote the AP article:
- She instituted a large, morale-damaging reorganization of the agency that triggered an exodus of admired agency scientists. Gerberding said the changes made the CDC
stronger. But in 2005, five previous CDC directors wrote Gerberding a joint letter expressing their concern about what was happening to the agency.
- A 2004 medical journal article co-authored by Gerberding said obesity was about to overtake smoking as the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, but CDC officials later reported they had overstated the increase in obesity-related deaths by about 35,000. The mistake was blamed on a computer software error.
- After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the agency was criticized for being slow to respond to survivors’ complaints about formaldehyde fumes in trailers that had been provided by the government.
- She was criticized at times for going along with Bush administration political positions at the sacrifice of science. In 2007, she was knocked for going along with White House editing of her Senate testimony on the effects of climate change on health, which involved deletion of key portions citing diseases that could flourish in a warmer climate.
Potentially under consideration is at least one circumcision-friendly public health offcial, Dr. Thomas Frieden, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Also under consideration may be Dr. Helene Gayle, a former CDC administrator who is now chief executive officer of CARE International; Dr. Margaret Hamburg, a former HHS official now with the Global Health and Security Initiative; and Dr. James Marks, a former CDC administrator now at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Edits: Corrected spelling of Gerberding’s name.
Link: CDC director is leaving with a mixed legacy – Yahoo! News [dead link]