Richard E. Besser

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Richard Besser

Richard E. Besser (born 1959) is an American physician who is ABC News's Chief Health and Medical editor[1] and formerly the acting director of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Besser received his BA from Williams College and his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1986.[2] After graduation, Besser completed a residency and a chief residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.

In 1991, Besser joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service which is under the supervision of the CDC. He was sent to Boston to investigate a minor outbreak of E. coli there. Officials were unhappy at the length and cost of the investigation, which included collecting deer feces from apple orchards, but Besser eventually found the source of the outbreak, which was apple cider.[3]

Besser also worked as a health reporter for a local television station in San Diego, California during the 1990s.

On January 22, 2009, Besser was named acting director of the CDC and ATSDR. Before the new Obama administration named a permanent director for both agencies, in April 2009, an outbreak of swine flu in North America swept the headlines. Besser began to hold daily press conferences where he explained the United States government's reaction to the outbreak, which originated in Mexico, but had since spread to over 20 countries, with the United States the most affected by the virus's spread. Besser's handling of his press conferences drew praise from prominent American medical professionals such as Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. David Satcher.[3]

Besser's wife, Jeanne Besser, has published five cookbooks and wrote for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


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