Departing heads of federal health agencies have left a strong legacy in driving new initiatives, improving research and development, and tackling major health threats. These leaders have participated in Research!America programs as keynote speakers and panelists, providing timely and relevant information to support the work of research advocates.
As director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since 2009, Thomas Frieden, M.D. MPH, spearheaded the nation’s response to disease outbreaks and public health emergencies including the H1N1 flu pandemic, Ebola and Zika epidemics, as well as the opioid crisis. He also supported a rapid-response emergency fund to better prepare for and respond to these outbreaks. In a recent interview with STAT, Dr. Frieden described his next steps, saying, “…what I’ve always done to determine my next job is to ask the simple question: How can I save the most lives? And that’s the formula I’ll be using going forward.”
During his tenure, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Robert Califf, M.D., was a strong proponent of strengthening the agency’s workforce and evidence generation. "It’s very noticeable when we make decisions with good evidence," Califf said in a recent Washington Post interview. "It's still emotionally charged because we regulate such a large part of the economy, and there are winners and losers. But when we have good evidence, it’s easy to defend the decisions and the arguments are typically good arguments to have about how you interpret good evidence.” Dr. Califf is returning to Duke University School of Medicine.
In his final blog post, Andrew Bindman, M.D., former director of the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, said he is optimistic about the agency’s future. “AHRQ is not a payer or a regulator but a facilitator that uses research and evidence to support constructive improvements in health care.” Dr. Bindman championed integration of data analytics into medical practices. He will resume his role at the University of California San Francisco as primary care physician and health services researcher.