Former CDC chief Dr. Julie Gerberding appointed president of Merck Vaccines

Dr. Julie Gerberding US drug maker Merck & Co today announced the appointment of  Dr Julie Gerberding, former head of Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as presdident of its $5-billion global vaccines business, Merck Vaccines, effective 20 January 2010.

Dr Gerberding, who led the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as director from 2002 to 2009,  led the agency during more than 40 emergency response initiatives for health crises including anthrax bioterrorism, food-borne disease outbreaks, and natural disasters, and advised governments around the world on urgent public health issues such as SARS, AIDS, and obesity.

She will be responsible for the commercialisation of the current portfolio of Merck vaccines, planning for the introduction of vaccines from the company's vaccine pipeline, and accelerating Merck's on-going efforts to broaden access to its vaccines in the developing world.

Merck currently markets a broad range of paediatric, adolescent and adult vaccines and is a leading provider of vaccines in countries around the world. In the US, Merck markets vaccines for 12 of the 17 diseases for which the US Advisory Committee for Immunisation Practices currently recommends vaccines.

''Vaccines are a cornerstone of Merck's commitment to health and wellness," said Richard T. Clark, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck & Co., Inc. "We are delighted to welcome an expert of Dr. Gerberding's calibre to Merck. As a preeminent authority in public health, infectious diseases and vaccines, Dr. Gerberding is the ideal choice to lead Merck's engagement with organizations around the world that share our commitment to the use of vaccines to prevent disease and save lives."

"I've had the privilege in my previous work in academia and in the federal government to be a passionate advocate for public health priorities such as vaccines, which are an imperative component of global health development," said Dr. Gerberding. "I am very excited to be joining Merck where I can help to expand access to vaccines around the world."