The Trump administration for the second time has decided to go outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find a director rather than appoint acting Director Anne Schuchat to the permanent position.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday, March 21, that Robert Redfield, a 30-year virus researcher and 20-year veteran of U.S. Army Medical Corps who has been most prominent in work on AIDS and HIV, will be nominated to serve as the 18th CDC director.
If, as expected, his nomination is confirmed, he will replace Brenda Fitzgerald, the former Georgia health commissioner who lasted less than half a year at the CDC before resigning amid controversy over investments involving tobacco companies and health care businesses, both of which represent a conflict of interest with the CDC’s work.
Schuchat, a Jewish community member who is a career CDC official and rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service, has served as acting director since Jan. 31, and several news outlets reported strong support within the agency to drop the “acting” from her title.
“It is an honor to provide leadership for our nation’s premier public health agency, and all of you, in this role. Please know that I take this responsibility very seriously and care tremendously about our continued excellence and strength,” Schuchat wrote in an email to CDC staffers Feb. 1.
She has led the CDC for most of Donald Trump’s presidency, including roughly the first seven months of the administration when she was acting director after Tom Frieden resigned upon the president’s inauguration.
“All of us at HHS are grateful to Dr. Anne Schuchat for her service as acting director at CDC, especially during this year’s severe flu season,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “We look forward to CDC continuing its important work on the opioid epidemic and America’s many other pressing public health challenges.”