5 facts physicians should know about Anne Schuchat

February 3, 2018

An HHS spokesperson told Medical Economics that Anne Schuchat, MD, formerly principal deputy director, is now the acting director of the CDC. With a background in internal medicine, here are five other facts physicians should know about the new head of the agency.

 

 

In another blow to the Trump Administration, there is another high-level ouster of a healthcare leader.

On January 31, Brenda Fitzgerald resigned as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after Politico reported on her tobacco investments and the conflict those caused with her federal role.

In a statement, a Health and Human Services Secretary spokesperson noted Fitzgerald’s “complex financial interests” that repeatedly caused her to recuse herself from CDC business.

“Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period,” the statement read. The statement came a few hours after Politico published a story indicating that Fitzgerald purchased shares in tobacco companies after assuming her post at the CDC.

Politico also published stories last fall regarding former HHS Secretary Tom Price’s use of taxpayer-funded airplanes for personal use that led to his resignation from the department, paving the way for Alex Azar.

An HHS spokesperson told Medical Economics that Anne Schuchat, MD, formerly principal deputy director, is now the acting director of the CDC. With a background in internal medicine, here are five other facts physicians should know about the new head of the agency.

 

5. Second time as acting director

Schuchat served as acting CDC director from January to July 2017, when Fitzgerald, an OB/GYN who previously served as Georgia’s public health commissioner was named full-time director.

Schuchat joined the CDC in 1988 as an epidemic intelligence service officer, before becoming the chief of the respiratory diseases branch (through 2005) and then head of the National Center for Infectious Diseases. She was also acting director of the Center for Global Health from 2012 to 2013 and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases from 2006 to 2015.

 

4. Internal medicine background

 

Schuchat graduated with highest honors from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and with honors from Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. She completed her residency and chief residency in internal medicine at New York University’s Manhattan VA Hospital.

 

 

3. Outbreak expert

Schuchat, who also holds the designation as a rear admiral in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Services, served as chief health officer for the CDC’s H1N1 pandemic influenza response in 2009, led a team responding to the SARS outbreak in Beijing in 2003, and supported the CDC’s Washington, D.C. field team during the 2001 bioterrorist anthrax response.

The CDC Foundation, a non-profit arm that supports the agency, notes that actress Kate Winslet’s role in the 2011 movie “Contagion” is based on Schuchat and her role as a disease detective at the agency.

 

 

2. Extensive publishing background

Schuchat has authored or co-authored more than 230 scientific articles, book chapters, and reviews, according to the CDC. This month, she edited a chapter entitled “Immunization in the United States” for the latest edition of Plotkin’s Vaccines.

 

 

1. She is stridently pro-vaccination

Named “America’s Anti-Anti-Science Crusader” by Popular Science in 2015, Schuchat flatly denies any link between vaccines and mental or physical illness. She has testified before Congressional bodies several times on the issue.