CDC director Julie Gerberding ousted by Obama administration effective January 20


Dr. Gerberding’s controversial tenure at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included her acceptance of White House censorship of her Senate testimony on climate change and public health, CDC’s failure to act to protect victims of Hurricane Katrina from exposure to dangerous formaldhyde fumes in government-supplied trailers, a massive and much-criticized agency reorganization that led to an exodus of key scientific staff and public criticism by 5 former CDC directors, one of whom served on President-elect Obama’s Transition Team for the CDC’s parent agency.

Post by Rick Piltz

We showed in October 2007 (see our October 29, 2007 post) how her Senate testimony on climate change and public health had been censored by the White House. 

Our November 30, 2008 post: What will the Obama transition do about Centers for Disease Control director Julie Gerberding?

Others will have to speak about the rest of Dr. Gerberding’s record on management of the agency and on other relevant issues.  But I will say that there has been too much complicity among senior federal officials and failure to push back on Bush administration political interference with science in general and with climate change communication in particular during the past 8 years.  There are a number of such officials in the agencies that the Obama administration would be justified in viewing with a critical eye.

See the January 9 report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (excerpt):

CDC director Gerberding resigns at Obama’s request


…Gerberding’s six years leading one of the nation’s most trusted institutions were marked by numerous controversies, from allegations that she allowed politics to interfere with science to concerns that her strategic decisions incapacitated the agency’s ability to respond in a public health crisis….

[F]or much of her tenure, many CDC employees lacked confidence in her vision for the agency. Just 48 percent of CDC staff said they had a high level of respect for the agency’s senior leaders, according to results released last year of a federal survey of government employees.

Last year, congressional investigators concluded the CDC failed “in almost every respect” to protect Hurricane Katrina’s victims from dangerous formaldehyde fumes in government-provided trailers. And Gerberding was accused of playing politics by refusing to reappoint the director of the agency’s worker safety division — a man widely respected by business leaders, labor unions and lawmakers.

Gerberding drew fire from Democratic lawmakers in 2007 when she delivered testimony to Congress about the health effects of climate change that had been censored by the White House….

Our December 19, 2008 post:  Under next director CDC must participate in climate science program with health impacts research

CDC should be directed and supported to develop a research, assessment, and public communication agenda focused on mortality risks from heat waves, effects of climate change on the transmission of water-borne, food-borne, insect-borne, and rodent-borne diseases, health effects of climate change impacts on air quality, and other potential human health consequences of global climatic disruption.  Something for the Obama administration’s climate change leadership and the next CDC director to consider.


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