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Dr Julie Gerberding appointed to head up Merck Vaccines

Published on: 06/01/10

Merck & Co has put a US public health and infectious diseases expert in charge of its $5 billion global vaccines business.

Dr Julie Gerberding will become president of Merck Vaccines on January 25 - a year after she resigned from her post as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Merck chairman Richard Clark described her as a “preeminent authority” and said the company was “delighted to welcome an expert of Dr Gerberding’s calibre”.

Gerberding’s remit will include overseeing the commercialisation of Merck’s existing vaccine portfolio as well as introducing pipeline products into the market.

The company says she will also be responsible for “accelerating Merck’s ongoing efforts to broaden access to its vaccines in the developing world”.

Gerberding led the CDC from 2002, and in her time there received the US Department of Health and Human Services distinguished service award for her work in response to anthrax bioterrorism and the September 11 attacks.

"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,” Gerberding said.

Before joining the CDC in 1998 she worked in a variety of roles at the University of California in San Francisco, where she also received her clinical pharmacology training.

She is now adjunct associate professor of medicine in infectious diseases there, as well as being a member of the Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American College of Physicians.

Both Time and Forbes magazines have put her in their lists of the US’s most influential or powerful women in recent years.

In her new role she is expected to work closely with Merck’s Manufacturing Division and Research Laboratories.

When Clark announced the new Merck’s leadership team last September, he pledged to introduce senior executives from outside “with specific experience in key areas”.

Gerberding’s appointment follows that of Dr Michael Rosenblatt, who has been made Merck’s executive VP and chief medical officer - the company’s main voice on issues such as patient safety.

Gerberding was succeded as director of the CDC by Thomas Frieden last summer.

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