Atlanta Journal-Constitution Looks at Possible Candidates to Head CDC
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today looks at some of the possible successors of Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, who stepped down as CDC director in March, as the next head of the agency. The Journal-Constitution reports that potential candidates fall under three categories: inside candidates, outside candidates who "provoke anxiety" from the CDC's "rank and file" and outside candidates who are on the CDC's "wish list." The following is the paper's unofficial list, by category, of candidates and their qualifications:
- Dr. David Fleming: Acting director of the CDC and a member of the "transition team" put in place to run the agency after Koplan stepped down.
- Dr. James Hughes: Co-leader of the CDC bioterrorism wing and "longtime" director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases. Also a member of the transition team.
- Dr. Julie Gerberding: Acting deputy director for science for the CDC and a member of the transition team. The Journal-Constitution reports that people who speculate on the next CDC director are "intrigued" by Gerberding, both because she led efforts by the CDC to combat HIV infections in hospitals and because "her gender would appeal" to the Bush administration, whose last two health nominees, Dr. Elias Zerhouni for NIH director (see related story) and Dr. Richard Carmona for surgeon general, have been men.
- Dr. Thomas Coburn: Co-chair of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and a "social conservative" Republican congressman from Oklahoma from 1995 to 2001.
- Dr. Robert Redfield: An AIDS vaccine researcher and an Army physician who works for the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland. Redfield has "clashed" with AIDS treatment advocates over whether to collect the names of people who test positive for HIV, the Journal-Constitution reports.
- Dr. Antonia Novello: U.S. surgeon general under former President George Bush and currently the health commissioner for New York state.
- Dr. Ed Thompson: Former member of Koplan's "personal advisory committee" and currently the health director for Mississippi.
- Dr. John Lumpkin: Chair of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and health director in Illinois. Lumpkin is an emergency physician.
- Gail Cassell: A former head of the American Society for Microbiology and chair of the CDC's board of scientific counselors. Cassell, a microbiologist, is currently the vice president of infectious diseases for Eli Lilly & Co.
The Journal-Constitution also mentions Michael Osterholm, who "fall[s] somewhere between the [three] lists," as a possible candidate. Osterholm, the director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, has been a "frequent critic" of the agency. He is HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson's "special representative" on the CDC transition team. Thompson has no "favorites" among the possible candidates, the Journal-Constitution reports. Although HHS representatives have indicated that Thompson plans to "act within weeks" on naming a CDC head, "agency-watchers" in Washington say they have seen no indication that Thompson is conducting a "formal, nationwide search" (McKenna, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, 5/3). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.