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February 21, 2002
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Press Release

Statement by Tommy G. Thompson
Secretary of Health and Human Services

(Below is a statement by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson about Jeffrey P. Koplan, M.D., M.P.H., who announced today he will be stepping down as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effective March 31. Upon taking office last year, Secretary Thompson asked Dr. Koplan to remain CDC director. Dr. Koplan was named CDC director in 1998 and has spent 26 years in public service.)

It is a loss for the Department of Health and Human Services and our country that Dr. Jeffrey Koplan is stepping down as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I am going to miss his counsel, leadership and dedication to public service.

Jeff has dedicated his life's work to the improvement and protection of public health. He is a great American who helped make our nation a healthier nation. He also dedicated himself to improving health conditions throughout the world, which included playing a lead role in eradicating smallpox and being an early leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

During the bioterrorism attacks of the past fall, Jeff provided dedicated leadership during very trying times for the CDC and HHS. Since then, he has worked with my office to make sure that America is better prepared to respond to a biological attack. He has helped raise the level of preparedness at the federal and local levels greatly in a short period of time.

Jeff is an aggressive and passionate leader in the prevention of chronic disease, which is a high priority of mine as well. His leadership in this arena will be missed within government, but I hope he continues to speak out about prevention in his future endeavors. The prevention of chronic disease is a matter this country must take more seriously for the sake of our people's health.

Throughout his career, Dr. Koplan has touched and improved the lives of millions of people worldwide. He sets the standard for what it means to truly be a public servant. He will be sorely missed.

I wish Jeff and his family success and happiness in their next endeavor.

# # #

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