In light of all the executive branch changes people are hoping for, I wonder how much longer CDC Director Julie Gerberding has. I’m guessing she’s there until late January….
I don’t claim to speak for CDC employees, but, in some divisions, morale is incredibly low–people are considering leaving as soon as they can*. This doesn’t sound like a well run organization to me.
As far as I can tell, Gerberding has never stood up to Congress, which means when everything becomes a priority, or at least the priority du jour, then nothing is a priority. I’ve also heard her prattle on about the need to focus on health, not disease. This is pronounced with great gravitas, at which point many nod their heads at this supposed pearl of wisdom. The Mad Biologist, on the other hand, wonders, “What the fuck are you talking about? Who else is going to monitor and fight disease? The FDIC?”
Finally, there’s this little gem from Paul Offit’s Autism’s False Profits:
[Congressman] Weldon wanted autism research to be directed by Safe Minds, the advocacy group founded by Lyn Redwood and Sallie Bernard. In May 2004, he told Julie Gerberding, the director of the CDC, to stop focusing on epidemiological studies like the one done by Tom Verstraeten (which showed that mercury in vaccines didn’t cause autism) and to start focusing on laboratory studies, like the ones done by Richard Deth and Mady Hornig (which showed it did). “Fine,” said Gerberding. “Can your office put together something? Can you get me a wish list of all the kinds of protocols that you would like to see funded?” Weldon’s chief of staff, Stuart Burns, called Lyn Redwood. “Hey Lyn,” he said, “do you think Safe Minds could put together a list of research projects on autism and vaccines you would like to see the federal government pursue?” No longer would research be determined solely by the NIH, the CDC, and physicians in academic institutions with an expertise in autism; rather, it would be directed by a parents’ advocacy group.
I’m all for input on priorities and emphasis, but congresscritters should not be designing experimental protocols.
*What’s really odd is that, in two instances, it’s been people who I’ve just met who have told me how bad things are for them.
For another example, read between the lines from EpiWonk.
Gerberding was one of the earlier Bush loyalists. She has chased a lot of career scientists out as she subverted science for Bush ideology. I don’t know how long it takes to replace and restore what bright flight has wrought.
But the nation is definitely more at risk and not safer as a result of her malfeasance in leadership.
I think the change is necessary. I agree with your article. I also think not only this change is necessary and the whole world should change…