Gerberding Leaving CDC by Jan. 20

Atlanta news media including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and public health blogs reported today that Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was among several top HHS officials whom Secretary Mike Leavitt asked to submit letters of resignation timed for the new Obama administration's arrival.

The CDC chief has defenders and critics, with the latter saying she on one occasion allowed her testimony on global warming to be watered down by an administration that opposed efforts to address it. She did position CDC to lead the government's readiness against bioterrorism threats, defenders say.

To occupational safety and public health professionals, the biggest marks against Gerberding were her role in removing Dr. John Howard from his post as director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and her attempt to move NIOSH into a larger CDC unit. The OSH community, fearing NIOSH's voice and funding would diminish in her proposed structure, fought the proposal and persuaded key members of Congress to defeat it. When Howard's six-year term as NIOSH director was ending, and he sought reappointment, Gerberding was believed to be chiefly responsible for not reappointing him.

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