Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia Alumnus Dr. Thomas Frieden Named CDC Director By President Obama

NEW YORK (May 15, 2009) – Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., MPH, alumnus of Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons (‘86) and Mailman School of Public Health (‘85) was today appointed as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by President Barack Obama. Dr. Frieden currently serves as commissioner of the New York City Health Department.

“All of us at Columbia – particularly at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Mailman School of Public Health – are proud to see a distinguished alumnus selected as head of one of the most important public health institutions in the world,” said Lee Goldman, M.D., executive vice president and dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. “Dr. Frieden’s leadership at the city health department, most recently during the influenza outbreak, is another source of pride for us as New Yorkers.”

“Dr. Frieden’s targeted, highly visionary and effective public health strategies have made him one of the strongest leaders on the public’s health and urban health,” said Linda P. Fried, dean and DeLamar Professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “His willingness to take on important, controversial issues throughout his career and his use of science and policy to safeguard the public’s health makes him an exceptional choice to lead the CDC. He exemplifies everything the Mailman School could ask for in an alumnus.”

To read the official announcement from the White House, please click here:

In addition to his two Columbia degrees, Dr. Frieden also completed specialty training in internal medicine at Columbia. He completed subspecialty training in infectious diseases at Yale University, has written more than 200 scientific articles, and received numerous awards and honors.

He has served as commissioner of the New York City Health Department, one of the nation’s largest public health agencies, since January 2002. He has led efforts that reduced the number of smokers by 350,000 and cut teen smoking in half. New York City has also increased cancer screening, reduced AIDS deaths by 40%, improved collection and availability of information on community health, and implemented the largest community electronic health records project in the country. Dr. Frieden and his team have responded effectively to several urgent health problems including cases of anthrax, plague and H1N1 influenza.

Prior to joining the New York City Health Department, Dr. Frieden worked for CDC from 1990 to 2002. In the early 1990s, as a CDC Epidemiologic Intelligence Service Officer, Dr. Frieden investigated a wide range of issues including the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Following that, along with then NYC Health Commissioner and current Food and Drug Administration head nominee Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Dr. Frieden led the effort that stopped the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

To learn more about Dr. Frieden, please click here:

To read a 2005 profile of Dr. Frieden in P&S Journal, a publication of Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons, please click here:

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Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is now among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the most comprehensive medical research enterprise in New York City and state and one of the largest in the United States. Columbia University Medical Center is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the nation’s largest not-for-profit hospital provider. For more information, please visit