Georgia health commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald picked to lead CDC

She succeeds Tom Frieden, MD, who resigned as CDC director in January at the end of the Obama administration.
Brenda Fitzgerald to lead CDC

Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, will step up to the position of director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fitzgerald, an obstetrician and gynecologist, has served as the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and state health officer since 2011.

She succeeds Tom Frieden, MD, who resigned as CDC director in January at the end of the Obama administration.

Fitzgerald is the 17th Director of the CDC and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

“Today, I am extremely proud and excited to announce Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald as the new Director of the CDC,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price.

“Having known Dr. Fitzgerald for many years, I know that she has a deep appreciation and understanding of medicine, public health, policy and leadership – all qualities that will prove vital as she leads the CDC in its work to protect America’s health 24/7,” Price said in announcing the appointment.

“We look forward to working with Dr. Fitzgerald to achieve President Trump's goal of strengthening public health surveillance and ensuring global health security at home and abroad.”

Not everyone is as enthusiastic. Some observers point out Fitzgerald’s ties with Coca-Cola.

“Coca-Cola gave $1 million to Georgia SHAPE, which seeks to increase physical activity in schools but is silent about reducing soda consumption, even though studies have found high sugar intake, especially in liquid form, is a driver of obesity and diabetes, as well as cancer and heart disease, Rob Waters writes in a piece for Forbes.

Fitzgerald succeeds Anne Schuchat, MD, who has been the acting CDC director and acting ATSDR administrator since January 20. Schuchat is returning to her role as CDC’s principal deputy director.

Fitzgerald, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, has practiced medicine for three decades. As Georgia DPH Commissioner, she oversaw various state public health programs and directed the state’s 18 public health districts and 159 county health departments. Prior to her stint as Georgia’s DPH commissioner, Fitzgerald held numerous leadership positions.

She served on the board and as president of the Georgia OB-GYN Society and she worked as a healthcare policy advisor with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Paul Coverdell. She also served as a senior fellow and chairman of the Board for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. 

Fitzgerald has a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from Georgia State University. She received her medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine and completed post-graduate training at the Emory-Grady Hospitals in Atlanta and held an assistant clinical professorship at Emory Medical Center.

As a Major in the U.S. Air Force, Fitzgerald served at the Wurtsmith Air Force Strategic Air Command Base in Michigan and at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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