Trump administration taps Brenda Fitzgerald to lead CDC

Brenda Fitzgerald

The Trump administration has appointed Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and an obstetrician-gynecologist, to the director post at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced the appointment Friday morning, and HHS Secretary Tom Price said he looks forward to working with Fitzgerald to achieve President Donald Trump’s “goal of strengthening public health surveillance and ensuring global health security at home and abroad.”

“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.

Fitzgerald will also serve as administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. She takes over for Anne Schuchat, M.D., who has been acting director of the CDC since late January and assumed the position after long-time Director Tom Frieden, M.D., stepped down.

Schuchat will continue as principal deputy director at the CDC.

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Frieden, who served for 8 years as director and was himself a former public health official in New York, welcomed the nomination and posted on Twitter that her experience as a health commissioner is “important.” By “listening and supporting CDC staff,” she can find success in the director's role, Frieden said.

Though she has been in practice for about three decades, STAT could not find any record of Fitzgerald conducting scientific research, a major function of the CDC. Fitzgerald’s nomination could also generate some partisan controversy, the publication noted, as she is a longtime ally of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and twice ran for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District.

Fitzgerald has, however, publicly endorsed vaccines, which is welcome news to many in the healthcare industry.

The Trump administration has come under fire from the medical community for its stance on the matter. The White House has dismissed vaccine champion Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., as Surgeon General, and tapped vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy to lead a panel on vaccine safety.