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Thomas Frieden

Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., became Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in June 2009. Dr. Frieden has worked to control both communicable and noncommunicable diseases in the United States and around the world. From 1992-1996, he led New York City’s program that rapidly controlled tuberculosis, including reducing cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 80 percent. He then worked in India for five years where he assisted with national tuberculosis control efforts. The program in India has treated more than 10 million patients and has saved more than one million lives.

As Commissioner of the New York City Health Department from 2002-2009, he directed one of the world′s largest public health agencies, with an annual budget of $1.7 billion and more than 6,000 staff.  During his tenure, the number of smokers declined by 350,000, teen smoking decreased by half, and New York City became the first place in the United States to eliminate trans-fats from restaurants, rigorously monitor the diabetes epidemic, and require certain restaurants to post calorie information prominently. The Department also greatly increased colon cancer screening and eliminated racial/ethnic disparities in colon cancer screening rates. Under Dr. Frieden′s leadership, the department also established the largest community electronic health records project in the country.

It’s important to recognize that there’s this interplay between what the individual can do and what society can do to empower individuals to live longer and healthier, more productive lives.