ATLANTA | The head of the federal government’s public health agency is stepping down, according an e-mail sent Friday night to federal employees.
Dr. Julie Gerberding has resigned as director of the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and will be replaced on an interim basis by a deputy as of Jan. 20, the day President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated.
The e-mail obtained by the Associated Press was sent Friday night to employees of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, of which the CDC is a part.
As a matter of practice, an incoming president asks the outgoing administration to request the resignation of its political appointees. In some instances, a current official is allowed to stay in place, at least for a few months. In others, the resignation is accepted.
“As part of the transition process, the administration requested resignation letters from a number of senior-level officials, including Dr. Gerberding. This week, the administration accepted Dr. Gerberding’s resignation, effective January 20,” CDC spokesman Glen Nowak said in a prepared statement, when asked about her departure.
Mr. Nowak said Dr. Gerberding was traveling in Africa and unavailable for comment.
The CDC investigates disease outbreaks, researches the cause and prevalence of health problems, and promotes illness prevention efforts.
Dr. Gerberding was appointed head of the CDC and its sister agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in July 2002. The two have a budget of about $8.8 billion and more than 14,000 full-time, part-time and contract employees.
Dr. Gerberding receives a total compensation of $202,200.
The memo announcing Dr. Gerberding’s resignation was signed by Rich McKeown, chief of staff for outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt. It said William Gimson, the CDC’s chief operating officer, will step in as interim director as of Jan. 20.
Mr. Obama has named Tom Daschle, a former senator, to be head of the Health and Human Services Department. Mr. Daschle has said he will act quickly to name permanent new heads of agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, according to a Reuters news agency report.
FDA head Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach will be succeeded by Frank Torti, currently principal deputy commissioner and chief scientist.
Charlene Frizzera, currently chief operating officer at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will succeed Acting Director Kerry Weems.