Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald is an OB-GYN and has been head of the Georgia Department of Public Health since 2011. She succeeds Dr. Tom Frieden, who resigned as CDC director in January at the end of the Obama administration.
Fitzgerald was appointed by Dr. Tom Price, who was a congressman from Georgia before he was named head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by President Donald Trump.
The CDC investigates disease outbreaks, researches the cause and frequency of health problems and promotes prevention efforts. Right now there are a number of public health challenges in the U.S. and globally. Those include the opioid epidemic and drug-resistant diseases.
The biggest challenge Dr. Fitzgerald will face is the CDC budget. President Trump’s budget proposal cuts funding to the CDC by $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2018. Bills in Congress also call to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which helps fund the agency. An underfunded program will leave Americans more vulnerable to infectious diseases and other health threats, and health care costs and avoidable deaths will rise.
CDC is the only federal agency headquartered outside of Washington, D.C. It has nearly 12,000 employees and 10,000 contractors worldwide.
Many science related roles have remained unfilled in the Trump White House.