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Obama taps New York City's Frieden to run CDC

thomas frieden cdcHeads up, America, the wave-making health commissioner from the Big Apple is heading to Atlanta to run the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The White House tapped Tom Frieden, controversial commish of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as head of the CDC, where he'll start working early next month.

He's been a tough guy on public health issues in New York, pushing past opposition to ban transfats in restaurants and require calorie counts on the menus of chains, and raising an alarm (some say prematurely) about a multidrug resistant strain of HIV.

Supporters say he gets results. Critics say his focus on ends has justified some questionable means. “He doesn’t hesitate to use public health policy to kind of step all over civil liberties," a spokesperson for Housing Works, a nonprofit agency for homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS, told The New York Times.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who calls himself passionate about public health, praised Frieden and his work in a statement. "We have 350,000 fewer smokers among our friends, neighbors and loved ones," he said. "We now boast the nation's most extensive community-based electronic health record system. We've taken steps against transfats and have more information about the calorie content in our foods."

New Yorkers also have three more schools closing because of H1N1 flu concerns. Frieden took part in the decision, described here.

Frieden was prominent on the short list of candidates to succeed Julie Gerberding as head of the CDC when she resigned in January. For more info, see his NYC Health Department bio here.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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