Tom Frieden

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Tom Frieden
Thomas Frieden official CDC portrait.jpg
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In office
June 8, 2009 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byJulie Gerberding
Succeeded byBrenda Fitzgerald
Commissioner of Health of the City of New York
In office
January 2002 – May 18, 2009
MayorMichael Bloomberg
Preceded byNeal Cohen
Succeeded byTom Farley
Personal details
Born (1960-12-07) December 7, 1960 (age 58)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationOberlin College (BA)
Columbia University (MPH, MD)

Thomas R. Frieden is an American infectious disease and public health expert, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry from 2009 to 2017, appointed by President Barack Obama.[1]

As a commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2002 to 2009 he came to some prominence for banning smoking and trans fat served in the city's restaurants.


Frieden was born and raised in New York City. His father, Julian Frieden, was chief of coronary care at Montefiore Hospital and New Rochelle Hospitals in New York. He is of Jewish ancestry. [2] Frieden attended Oberlin College graduating with a BA in philosophy in 1982.[3] He was a community organizer for the Center for Health Services at Vanderbilt University in 1982, before he started studying medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and graduated in 1986. At the same time he attended Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and obtained an MPH in 1985. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center 1986 - 1989 followed by a one-year infectious diseases fellowship from 1989 - 1990 at Yale School of Medicine and Yale–New Haven Hospital.[4]


CDC, New York City Department of Health, WHO, 1990-2002[edit]

From 1990 to 1992, Frieden worked as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer assigned by CDC in New York City.[5][6][7] From 1992 to 1996,[8] he was assistant commissioner of health and director of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Tuberculosis Control, fostering public awareness and helping to improve city, state and federal public funding for TB control.[9][10] The New York City epidemic was controlled rapidly, reducing overall incidence by nearly half and cutting multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 80%.[11] The city's program became a model for tuberculosis control nationally and globally.[12][13]

From 1995 to 2001, Frieden worked as a technical advisor for the World Bank, health and population offices.[4] From 1996 to 2002, Frieden worked in India, as a medical officer for the World Health Organization on loan from the CDC. He helped the government of India implement the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program.[14][15][16][17] The program's 2008 status report estimated that the nationwide program resulted in 8 million treatments and 1.4 million lives saved.[18] While in India, Frieden worked to establish a network of Indian physicians to help India's state and local governments implement the program[19] and helped the Tuberculosis Research Center in Chennai, India, establish a program to monitor the impact of tuberculosis control services.[20][21]

New York City Health Commissioner, 2002 to 2009[edit]

Frieden served as Commissioner of Health of the City of New York from 2002 to 2009. At the time of his appointment, the agency employed 6,000 staff and had an annual budget of $1.6 billion.[22]:8 During Frieden's tenure as Commissioner, the Health Department expanded the collection and use of epidemiological data,[23] launching an annual Community Health Survey[24] and the nation's first community-based Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.[25][26]

Tobacco control, 2002 onward[edit]

Upon his appointment as Commissioner of Health, Frieden made tobacco control a priority,[27] resulting in a rapid decline[28] after a decade of no change in smoking rates. Frieden established a system to monitor the city's smoking rates, and worked with New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to increase tobacco taxes, ban smoking in workplaces including restaurants and bars, and run aggressive anti-tobacco ads and help smokers quit.[29] The program reduced smoking prevalence among New York City adults from 21% in 2002 to 17% in 2007 which represented 300,000 fewer smokers.[28][30] Smoking prevalence among New York City teens declined even more sharply, from 17.6% in 2001 to 8.5% in 2007, which was less than half the national rate.[31] The workplace smoking ban prompted spirited debate before the New York City Council passed it and Mayor Bloomberg signed it into law.[32] Over time, the measure gained broad acceptance by the public and business community in New York City.[33][34] New York City's 2003 workplace smoking ban followed that of California in 1994. Frieden supported increased cigarette taxes as a means of forcing smokers to quit, saying "tobacco taxes are the most effective way to reduce tobacco use."[22]:23–38 He supported the 62-cent federal tax on each cigarette pack sold in the United States, introduced in April 2009.[35] One side effect of the increased taxes on tobacco in New York was a large increase in cigarette smuggling into the state from other states with much lower taxes, such as Virginia. The Tax Foundation estimated that "60.9% of cigarettes sold in New York State are smuggled in from other states".[36] In addition, some New Yorkers began to make their own cigarettes, and tobacco trucks were even hijacked. A 2009 Justice Department study found that "The incentive to profit by evading payment of taxes rises with each tax rate hike imposed by federal, state, and local governments".[37]

Waiving written consent for HIV testing, 2004[edit]

Frieden introduced the city's first comprehensive health policy, Take Care New York, which targeted ten leading causes of preventable illness and death for public and personal action.[38][39] By 2007, New York City had made measurable progress in eight of the ten priority areas.[40]

As Health Commissioner, Frieden sought to fight HIV and AIDS with public health principles used successfully to control other communicable diseases.[41] A very controversial aspect was the proposal to eliminate separate written consent for HIV testing. He believed the measure would encourage physicians to offer HIV tests during routine medical care,[42] as the CDC recommended.[43] Some community and civil liberties advocates fought this legislation, arguing it would undermine patients' rights and lead eventually to forced HIV testing.[44][45] In 2010, New York State passed a new law that eased the requirement for separate written consent in some circumstances.[46] On February 14, 2007, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene introduced the NYC Condom,[47][48] prompting Catholic League president Bill Donohue to respond, "What's next? The city's own brand of clean syringes?"[49] More than 36 million condoms were given away by the program in 2007.[50]

Diabetes test result reporting, 2006[edit]

Frieden worked to raise awareness about diabetes in New York City, particularly among pregnant women,[51] and established an involuntary, non-disclosed hemoglobin A1C diabetes registry which tracks patients' blood sugar control over several months and reports the information to treating physicians to help them provide better care.[52][53]

The New York City Board of Health's December 2005 decision[54] to require laboratories to report A1C test results generated a heated debate among civil libertarians, who viewed it as a violation of medical privacy and an intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship. Although patients may elect not to receive information from the program, there is no provision enabling patients to opt out of having their glycemic control data entered in the database.[55][year needed][56]

Transfat plan, 2006[edit]

In September 2006, the city proposed to restrict trans fat served in New York restaurants. [57]

CDC Director, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Administrator, 2009-2017[edit]

In May 2009, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services named Frieden director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; positions he assumed his position in June 2009, from the acting head Richard E. Besser.[58] Frieden resigned effective January 20, 2017.

"On announcing Frieden’s appointment, President Obama called him "an expert in preparedness and response to health emergencies" who in seven years as New York City's health commissioner was "at the forefront of the fight against heart disease, cancer and obesity, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS, and in the establishment of electronic health records."[1]

Ebola epidemic, 2014[edit]

Frieden is decontaminated after visiting Ebola treatment unit in Liberia, August 2014

Frieden was prominently involved in the US and global response to the West African outbreak of Ebola. His visits to West Africa beginning in August 2014 and a September 2014 CDC analysis projecting that the Ebola epidemic would increase exponentially to infect more than 1 million people within four months[59] prompted him to press for an international surge response.[60] At the peak of the response, CDC maintained approximately 200 staff per day in West Africa and about 400 staff per day at its Atlanta headquarters; overall, about 1,900 CDC staff deployed to international and U.S. locations for about 110,000 total work days, and more than 4,000 CDC staff worked as part of the response.[61] In a Congressional hearing in October 2014, Frieden was asked about his handling of the Ebola crisis after the disease had spread to two nurses from a patient in the US.[62] The day prior, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) had called for Frieden's resignation,[63] though others rallied to his defense.[64][65]

Resolve to Save lives for heart attack and stroke prevention, 2017[edit]

Frieden started leading an initiative called "Resolve" to save 100 million lives over the next 30 years by preventing heart attacks and strokes. The effort is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and housed at a nongovernmental organization in New York City.[66]

Personal life[edit]

Frieden is married and as of 2010 had 2 children.[67]


Frieden turned himself in to New York City police on August 24, 2018, on charges he squeezed the buttocks of a woman.[68] He was charged with one count of forcible touching, one count of sex abuse in the third degree, and one count of harassment in the second degree. The incident, alleged to have occurred on October 20, 2017, was reported to law enforcement in July 2018.[69] Frieden issued a statement shortly after his arrest, stating the groping allegation "does not reflect" his "public or private behavior or his values."[70]


Frieden has published more than 200 peer reviewed articles.


External references[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wilgoren, D. "Obama Chooses NYC Health Chief to Head CDC". Washington Post, May 16, 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  2. ^ Thomas Frieden, 2010
  3. ^ Tom Nugent Life on the Cutting Edge Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Fall 2006 Vol. 102, No. 2
  4. ^ a b Dr Thomas R Frieden, MD, MPH Bio House of Representatives, Document Repository, 16 July 2014
  5. ^ Harris, Gardiner (2010-03-15). "At C.D.C., Obama's Appointee Wields a Big Broom". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  6. ^ Fuller, Jaime (2014-10-16). "Meet the CDC's Swat Team". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  7. ^ "CDC Chief Tom Frieden Confronts Ebola Crisis Cool and Collected". NBC News. August 10, 2014. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  8. ^ Begun, James; Malcolm, Jan (2014). Leading Public Health : a Competency Framework. New York: Springer Publishing Company. ISBN 9780826199072. OCLC 881417295.
  9. ^ Lobato, M.N.; Wang, Y.C.; Becerra, J.E.; Simone, P.M.; Castro, K.G. (2006). "Improved Program Activities Are Associated with Decreasing Tuberculosis Incidence in the United States". Public Health Reports. 121 (2): 108–115. doi:10.1177/003335490612100202. PMC 1525263. PMID 16528941.
  10. ^ Leff, D.R.; Leff, A.R. (November 1, 1997). "Tuberculosis Control Policies in Major Metropolitan Health Departments in the United States. VI. Standard of Practice in 1996". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 156 (5): 1487–1494. doi:10.1164/ajrccm.156.5.9704105. PMID 9372665.
  11. ^ TB Annual Summary (PDF). New York: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 2015. p. 22. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  12. ^ World Health Organization Tuberculosis Programme (1995). "New York City's Success Story". Stop TB at the Source. Geneva: World Health Organization. ISBN 978-0-11-951529-9. OCLC 181876135.[page needed]
  13. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (February 14, 2004). "Gladly Taking The Blame For Health In the City". New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  14. ^ Drazen J.M. (October 2002). "A milestone in tuberculosis control". New England Journal of Medicine. 347 (18): 1444. doi:10.1056/NEJMe020135. PMID 12409549.
  15. ^ Khatri, G.R.; Frieden, T.R. (October 2002). "Controlling tuberculosis in India". New England Journal of Medicine. 347 (18): 1420–1425. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa020098. PMID 12409545.
  16. ^ Udwadia, Z.F.; Pinto, L.M. (2007). "Review series: the politics of TB: the politics, economics and impact of directly observed treatment (DOT) in India". Chronic Respiratory Disease. 4 (2): 101–106. doi:10.1177/1479972307707929. PMID 17621578.
  17. ^ Chauhan, L.S.; Tonsing, J. (2005). "Revised National TB Control Programme in India". Tuberculosis. 85 (5–6): 271–276. doi:10.1016/ PMID 16253562.
  18. ^ TB India 2008: RNTCP Status Report: I am Stopping TB. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. March 2008. p. 3. ISBN 81-902652-3-7. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  19. ^ Frieden, T.R.; Khatri, G.R. (September 2003). "Impact of national consultants on successful expansion of effective tuberculosis control in India". International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. 7 (9): 837–841. PMID 12971666.
  20. ^ Subramani, R.; Radhakrishna, S.; Frieden, T.R.; et al. (August 2008). "Rapid decline in prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis after DOTS implementation in a rural area of South India". International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. 12 (8): 916–920. PMID 18647451.
  21. ^ Narayanan, P.R.; Garg, R.; Santha, T.; Kumaran, P.P. (2003). "Shifting the Focus of Tuberculosis Research in India". Tuberculosis. 83 (1–3): 135–142. doi:10.1016/S1472-9792(02)00068-9. PMID 12758203.
  22. ^ a b Farley, Tom (2015). Saving Gotham: A Billionaire Mayor, Activist Doctors, and the Fight for Eight Million Lives. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0393071245.
  23. ^ Frieden, TR; Bassett, MT; Thorpe, LE; Farley, TA. "Public health in New York City, 2002–2007: Confronting Epidemics of the Modern Era". International Journal of Epidemiology. 37 (5): 966–977. doi:10.1093/ije/dyn108. PMID 18540026. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Community Health Survey". New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. February 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  25. ^ "NYC HANES Datasets and Related Documentation". New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  26. ^ Thorpe, L.E.; Gwynn, R.C.; Mandel-Ricci, J.; et al. (July 2006). "Study Design and Participation Rates of the New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2004". Preventing Chronic Disease. 3 (3): A94. PMC 1637802. PMID 16776895.
  27. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (February 15, 2002). "Commissioner Calls Smoking Public Health Enemy No. 1 and Asks Drug Firms for Ammunition". New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  28. ^ a b Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (June 2007). "Decline in smoking prevalence – New York City, 2002–2006". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 56 (24): 604–608. PMID 17585290.
  29. ^ Frieden, T.R.; Mostashari, F.; Kerker, B.D.; Miller, N.; Hajat, A.; Frankel, M. (June 2005). "Adult Tobacco Use Levels After Intensive Tobacco Control Measures: New York City, 2002–2003". American Journal of Public Health. 95 (6): 1016–1023. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.058164. PMC 1449302. PMID 15914827.
  30. ^ "Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates Join to Combat Global Tobacco Epidemic" (Press release). Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. July 23, 2008. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  31. ^ The Lancet (January 2008). "New York City's bold antitobacco programme". Lancet. 371 (9607): 90. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60078-1. PMID 18191665.
  32. ^ Chang, C.; Leighton, J.; Mostashari, F.; McCord, C.; Frieden, T.R. (August 2004). "The New York City Smoke-Free Air Act: second-hand smoke as a worker health and safety issue". American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 46 (2): 188–195. doi:10.1002/ajim.20030. PMID 15273972.
  33. ^ Cooper, Michael (October 23, 2003). "Poll Finds Smoking Ban Popular". New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  34. ^ Rutenberg, Jim; Lily Koppel (February 6, 2005). "In Barrooms, Smoking Ban Is Less Reviled". New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  35. ^ Jonsson, Patrik (November 17, 2009). "Federal and state governments look to smokers for more tax revenue: Though they hit poor Americans hardest, stiff taxes on tobacco can reduce healthcare costs by billions". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  36. ^ Smith, Aaron (January 10, 2013). "60% of cigarettes sold in New York are smuggled: report". CNN Money. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  37. ^ Mathias, Christopher (April 3, 2014). "Inside New York City's Dangerous, Multimillion-Dollar Cigarette Black Market". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  38. ^ "Cause of Death or Illness, New York City, 2002, and Amenability to Intervention". Take Care New York: A Policy for a Healthier New York City. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. March 2004. pp. 57–61. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  39. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard (March 24, 2004). "City sets goals for the health of New Yorker". New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  40. ^ Take Care New York: A Policy for a Healthier New York City (Fourth Year Progress Report) (PDF). New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. December 2008. pp. 2–5. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  41. ^ Frieden, T.R.; Das-Douglas, M.; Kellerman, S.E.; Henning, K.J. (December 2005). "Applying Public Health Principles to the HIV epidemic". New England Journal of Medicine. 353 (22): 2397–2402. doi:10.1056/NEJMsb053133. PMID 16319391.
  42. ^ Mandavilli, A. (April 2006). "Profile: Thomas Frieden". Nature Medicine. 12 (4): 378. doi:10.1038/nm0406-378. PMID 16598275.
  43. ^ Branson, B.M.; Handsfield, H.H.; Lampe, M.A.; et al. (September 2006). "Revised recommendations for HIV testing of adults, adolescents, and pregnant women in health-care settings". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 55 (RR–14): 1–17, quiz CE1–4. PMID 16988643.
  44. ^ Chan, Sewell (December 25, 2006). "Rifts Emerge on Push to End Written Consent for H.I.V.Tests". New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  45. ^ Fairchild, A.L.; Alkon, A. (August 2007). "Back to the future? Diabetes, HIV, and the boundaries of public health". Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. 32 (4): 561–593. doi:10.1215/03616878-2007-017. PMID 17639012.
  46. ^ "HIV Testing Is Now a Routine Part of Health Care in New York" (Press release). New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. September 1, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  47. ^ Chan, Sewell (February 15, 2007). "A New Condom in Town, This One Named 'NYC'". New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  48. ^ "Health Department Launches The Nation's First Official City condom" (Press release). New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. February 14, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  49. ^ "NYC-Branded Condoms Are a Big Apple First". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 25 January 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  50. ^ "Health Department Releases New NYC Condom Wrapper" (Press release). New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. February 13, 2008. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  51. ^ Kleinfield, N.R. (February 22, 2006). "City to Warn New Mothers of Diabetes Risk". New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  52. ^ Steinbrook R. (February 2006). "Facing the Diabetes Epidemic – Mandatory Reporting of Glycosylated Hemoglobin Values in New York City". New England Journal of Medicine. 354 (6): 545–548. doi:10.1056/NEJMp068008. PMID 16467539.
  53. ^ Bloomgarden, ZT (2006). "A1C in New York City". Medscape Diabetes & Endocrinology. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  54. ^ Chamany, S.; Silver, L.D.; Bassett, M.T.; Driver, C.R.; Berger, D.K.; Neuhaus, C.E.; Namrata, K.; Frieden, T.R. (September 2009). "Tracking Diabetes: New York City's A1C Registry". Milbank Quarterly. 87 (3): 547–570. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0009.2009.00568.x. PMID 19751279.
  55. ^ Goldman, J.; Kinnear, S.; Chung, J.; Rothman, D.J. "New York City's Initiatives on Diabetes and HIV/AIDS: Implications for Patient Care, Public Health, and Medical Professionalism". American Journal of Public Health. 98 (5): 807–813. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.121152. PMC 2374815. PMID 18381989.
  56. ^ Frieden T.R. (September 2008). "New York City's Diabetes Reporting System Helps Patients And Physicians". American Journal of Public Health. 98 (9): 1543–1544, author reply 1544. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.142026. PMC 2509589. PMID 18633070.
  57. ^ NYC To Revise Trans Fat Plan CSNews, 11/17/2006
  58. ^ "President Obama Appoints Dr. Thomas Frieden as CDC Director". The White House. 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 26 April 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  59. ^ Meltzer, Martin. "Estimating the Future Number of Cases in the Ebola Epidemic – Liberia and Sierra Leone, 2014–2015" (PDF). MMWR. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  60. ^ "Ebola outbreak: 'We need action now,' says CDC director Tom Frieden". CBC News. September 2, 2014. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  61. ^ Bell, Beth. "CDC's Response to the 2014–2016 Ebola Epidemic – West Africa and United States" (PDF). MMWR. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  62. ^ Tavernise, Sabrina (October 16, 2014). "Congress Scrutinizes Handling of Ebola Cases in Texas". New York Times. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  63. ^ "White House scrambles to ease concerns over Ebola, lawmakers demand changes: CDC". Fox News. October 15, 2014.
  64. ^ Morrison, J. Stephen. "Thomas Frieden And The U.S. Ebola Response". Project HOPE: The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  65. ^ Gottlieb, Scott (October 17, 2014). "In The Ebola Fight, A Defense Of Embattled CDC Chief Thomas Frieden". Forbes. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  66. ^ Betsy McKay CDC Director Frieden Takes Aim at Heart Disease, Epidemics WSJ, 12 September 2017
  67. ^ Gardiner Harris Obama’s C.D.C. Director, Wielding a Big Broom NYT, MARCH 15, 2010
  68. ^ Berman, Mark; Goldstein, Amy. "Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden arrested on sexual misconduct allegations". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  69. ^ Morales, Mark. "Former CDC head Tom Frieden charged with forcibly touching woman". CNN. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  70. ^ "The Latest: Ex-CDC boss denies woman's groping allegation". Associated Press. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
Government offices
Preceded by
Neal Cohen
Commissioner of Health of the City of New York
Succeeded by
Tom Farley
Preceded by
Julie Gerberding
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Succeeded by
Brenda Fitzgerald