Georgia's public health commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald was named the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, taking over an agency in charge of public health matters from battling epidemics to vaccination policy.
Fitzgerald fills a spot held temporarily by the agency's deputy director following the January resignation of Dr. Tom Frieden, an infectious disease expert who was appointed by the Obama administration to lead the CDC in 2009.
"Dr. Fitzgerald truly understands the challenges, needs and strengths of state and local departments of health and, in turn, public health laboratories", said Scott J. Becker, APHL executive director.
HHS Secretary Dr Tom Price, a former USA representative from Georgia, said Fitzgerald 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". She was a GOP candidate for Congress twice in the 1990s.
Fitzgerald, an obstetrician-gynecologist, has run the Georgia state health agency for the past six years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release.
The CDC investigates disease outbreaks, researches the cause and frequency of health problems and promotes prevention efforts.
"Until this week, Dr. Fitzgerald was not on my radar screen", said Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine.