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.
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. Frieden attended Oberlin College graduating with a BA in philosophy in 1982. 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.
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. 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.”
Frieden is married and as of 2010 had 2 children.
Frieden turned himself in to New York City police on August 24, 2018, on charges he squeezed the buttocks of a woman. 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. Frieden issued a statement shortly after his arrest, stating the groping allegation “does not reflect” his “public or private behavior or his values.”