NYC health chief named to lead CDC

May 16, 2009
by Craig Schneider
Atlanta Journal Constitution

Jeff Levi, executive director for Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit public health advocacy organization, said he believes Frieden was sending a message to employees "signaling a new era."

Frieden, 48, has served as New York City's health commissioner for the past seven years and has taken strong stands on health issues. He spearheaded a campaign to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, boosted the number of New Yorkers getting HIV tests and helped to distribute millions of free condoms.

Frieden also spent 12 years at the CDC, five of which were working on tuberculosis in India.

His appointment as CDC director drew praise from numerous officials and public health advocates. Dr. David Sencer, who directed the CDC from 1966 to 1977, said there is no avoiding politics in the job. But he said Frieden has shown toughness in the face of such pressures.

"Anybody who can survive in New York City is going to be good," Sencer said.

Levi, the health care watchdog, said Frieden could draw fire from both the left and right wings of the political spectrum.

Frieden pushed to eliminate artificial trans fat from restaurant food in New York City, which led the New York Post to say he wanted to create a "nanny state on steroids."

"He goes where the science takes him," Levi said.

View the full story (some sites require registration)