Dr. Julie Gerberding is a physician and an expert in infectious diseases. As director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she also holds what may be the most important medical job in the United States since the CDC is the federal agency in charge of protecting the health and safety of the American public. That task has been a challenge since Gerberding took on the job of director in July of 2002. Before she could settle into her position, she was confronted with the mysterious viral infection known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). That epidemic was followed by an outbreak of the rare monkeypox virus, and an especially widespread threat of the West Nile virus.
In addition, as head of the CDC, it is up to Gerberding to make sure that the American health system is prepared to handle a bioterrorist strike, a very real threat since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Gerberding, the first woman to hold the post of CDC director, remains undaunted. In 2004 she announced a massive reorganization and vowed in Time magazine that she is "redefining [the] CDC as the nation's health-protection agency."