"Team" to Manage CDC; Four to Fill Top Roles Until Successor to Koplan Named
April 1, 2002
Several hours after outgoing Director Jeffrey Koplan stepped down from the CDC on Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson announced that a "management team" would lead the CDC until a new director is chosen. The team would be made up of an acting director of the CDC; two chiefs of the agency's bioterror effort; and a special representative reporting to Thompson but based at the CDC.
Dr. David Fleming, who was one of three deputy directors under Koplan, becomes acting director of the CDC. Dr. James Hughes and Dr. Julie Gerberding, director and acting deputy director at the National Center for Infectious Diseases with CDC, become heads of bioterrorism. The fourth member is Michael Osterholm, a nationally known bioterrorism expert and epidemiologist from the University of Minnesota who has been serving as an advisor to Thompson since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The multipart appointment came as a sharp surprise to employees. Internally, Fleming was considered the most likely candidate for interim director. He is the CDC's deputy director for science, acts as director in the CDC's emergency plans should the director be unreachable, and is the only medical doctor among the three deputies.
Along with Fleming, Gerberding served as one of the agency's key spokespersons during the anthrax attacks. She is an infectious disease specialist whose research, before she joined the CDC in 1998 from the University of California-San Francisco focused on HIV among health care workers. At the CDC, she worked first on HIV and other infections and now has an appointment as second-in-command to Hughes, longtime head of the CDC's infectious disease wing.
The co-appointment, together with the addition of Osterholm, was being taken Friday evening as a sign that HHS wants to examine CDC's bioterrorism activities more closely. CDC has a bioterrorism unit of about 50 people within the infectious disease center, but experts on a variety of diseases that could be used as weapons, as well as experts in vaccines and treatment, are scattered throughout the 8,000-employee agency.
As an adviser to Thompson, Osterholm is likely to play a key role in examining how CDC handles bioterrorism. Osterholm is co-author of a new book, "Living Terrors: What America Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe."
03.30.02; M.A.J. McKenna
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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.