Richard Besser, M.D., a pediatrician who has worked on the epidemiology of food-borne diseases, has been named acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and acting administrator at the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.
Besser, 49, immediately follows William Gimson, the CDCs chief operating officer who has served as interim chief after former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, M.D., resigned on Jan. 20. Gerberding led the CDC since 2002. Besser will continue in the role until new HHS Secretary Tom Daschle, who has yet to be confirmed, names a permanent successor.
Bessers career at the CDC began in the epidemic intelligence services, where he worked on food-borne diseases. He has also served as the epidemiology section chief in the respiratory diseases branch, acting chief of the meningitis and special pathogens branch in the national center for infectious disease, and as the medical director of Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, a national campaign to promote the appropriate use of antibiotics. Most recently, he was director of the CDCs Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.