- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2002

ATLANTA (AP) Dr. Jeffrey Koplan resigned yesterday as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that was on the front lines of last fall's deadly anthrax attacks.
Dr. Koplan made the announcement in a meeting with senior CDC staff. The resignation is effective March 31.
Dr. Koplan, 57, did not immediately provide a reason for the resignation. CDC officials said he was resigning to pursue other opportunities after a long career in government service.
"It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the leader of such a dedicated, talented, and hard-working group of professionals," Dr. Koplan said in a statement. "I appreciate the opportunity to serve as CDC director and know that CDC will continue to protect the health and safety of the American people."
Dr. Koplan cited the agency's response to the anthrax letters and the effort to build up the nation's defense against bioterrorism as two of the highlights of his tenure.
It was CDC officers who were responsible in the early days of the anthrax crisis for determining how the agent spread, and how infected people should be treated.
But the agency also came under intense criticism during the anthrax-by-mail attacks, which killed five persons this fall. Members of Congress said CDC did not act quickly enough, or communicate clearly to the public about the danger.
In a refrain he sounded often, Dr. Koplan said the CDC and the rest of the public health system had been starved for money for years.
"We've had 30-plus years of neglect of the public health system and underinvestment in it," he said. "If we want to be as effective as we can be, whether it's a bioterrorist threat or an infectious disease, we've got to make that investment."
Dr. Koplan assumed the agency's top job in 1998, under President Clinton. He had worked 22 years as a government health officer.


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