Tom Frieden

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, became Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June 2009. Dr. Frieden has worked to control health threats from infectious diseases, respond to emergencies, and battle the leading causes of suffering and death in our nation and around the world.

As the director of our nation’s health protection agency, he is leading CDC to address these challenging health priorities.

  1. Improving health security at home and around the world – by preparing for, detecting, rapidly responding to and preventing health threats 24/7 to save lives and safeguard communities. These include global disease threats, antimicrobial resistance, foodborne illness and health care-acquired infections.
  2. Reducing the leading causes of death and illness – by focusing on reducing disease that sap the quality of life and longevity of Americans, including tobacco, uncontrolled blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, motor vehicle safety, prescription drug overdoses, and HIV/AIDS.
  3. Strengthening public health & health care collaboration - by aligning, coordinating and integrating public health and health care to improve health outcomes.

Dr. Frieden has intensified the agency’s 24/7 work to save lives and protect people, including:

  • Establishing more effective responses to outbreaks and other health threats at state, local and global levels, including the global effort to eradicate polio forever.
  • Preventing infections from food and in health care facilities with new programs and guidance.
  • Helping Americans to quit smoking, reducing childhood obesity, prevent diabetes, and saving teens and others lives from car crashes through focused programs.
  • Extending life-saving treatment, disease prevention and infection control in more than 50 countries to save lives globally and protect Americans from health threats outside our borders.

Career Highlights

  • As a CDC EIS officer disease detective from 1990-1992, Dr. Frieden conducted many epidemiologic investigations, including outbreaks of measles, typhoid, cryptosporidium, and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
  • From 1992-1996, as a CDC assignee, he led New York City’s program that rapidly controlled tuberculosis, including reducing cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 80 percent.
  • While working in India for five years as a CDC assignee to the World Health Organization, he assisted with national tuberculosis control efforts. The program in India has treated more than 10 million patients and has saved more than three million lives.
  • As Commissioner of the New York City Health Department from 2002-2009, he directed the city’s effort that reduced the number of smokers by 350,000, and reduced teen smoking by half.
  • New York City also became the first place in the United States to eliminate trans-fats from restaurants, leading more than 50 national chains to eliminate transfat from their menus, and require certain restaurants to post calorie information prominently.
  • The New York City health department also established the largest community electronic health records project in the country. It became the model to expand electronic health record use across the nation.
  • Immediately upon his appointment as CDC Director in 2009, Dr. Frieden led the nation’s response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic.
  • Dr. Frieden launched the first-ever national paid anti-tobacco media campaign, CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers, projected to help more than 100,000 smokers quit, saving money and preventing tens of thousands of deaths.
  • He also prioritized CDC’s efforts to reduce infections in healthcare settings, cutting some life-threatening infections by a third or more.
  • Dr. Frieden created CDC’s Vital Signs, a monthly clear-language publication, pointing out today’s most critical health problems, and guiding the public health community and clinical providers to actionable solutions.

A physician with training in internal medicine, infectious diseases, public health, and epidemiology, Dr. Frieden is especially known for his expertise in tuberculosis control. Dr. Frieden worked for CDC from 1990 until 2002. He began his career at CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer at the New York City Health Department.

Dr. Frieden speaks Spanish and graduated from Oberlin College. He received both his medical degree and master’s of public health degree from Columbia University and completed infectious disease training at Yale University. He has received many awards and honors and has published more than 200 scientific articles.