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PR- 226-09
May 18, 2009


Leading expert on health promotion and disease prevention will take office in June

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the appointment of Dr. Thomas A. Farley - a pediatrician, epidemiologist, and expert in public health policy - to head the City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Farley succeeds Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, who was appointed last week by President Obama to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As Commissioner, Dr. Farley will direct the City's efforts to prevent chronic illness, control disease outbreaks, reduce health disparities, and prepare for public-health emergencies. The Mayor made the announcement in the Blue Room of City Hall, where he was joined by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs. Drs. Frieden and Farley have been working together on the transition team for several weeks and Commissioner Farley will begin in early June.

"The New York City Health Department is one of the world's great public-health agencies," said Mayor Bloomberg. "It has been a center of innovation and excellence since the days of typhoid and cholera, and it continues to develop innovative new policies and practices that become national and international models. New Yorkers are living longer, healthier lives than ever before, but immense challenges remain. I am delighted to have a leader of Tom Farley's caliber here to help us meet them. Working together, we will build on the accomplishments of the past seven years, and make New York City an even healthier place to live and work."

"I'm deeply honored to accept this appointment," said Dr. Farley. "Under Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Frieden, the New York City Health Department has become a model that other agencies around the country look to for leadership. It has a record of generating innovative ideas, putting them into place, and then proving that they work. As Commissioner, I hope to continue to make advances against the leading causes of death today - such as smoking and obesity - while also constantly improving the many other ways we protect the health of New Yorkers."

"Dr. Farley is a distinguished and well-respected public health professional whose knowledge and experience will help New Yorkers continue to live healthier and longer lives," said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. "The Health Department will benefit from his proven ability to assess community needs, and to deal with urgent situations like the sudden emergence of a new strain of influenza. I look forward to working with Dr. Farley as we continue to address health issues of concern to the Administration."

Dr. Farley is a pediatrician and epidemiologist with a wide range of experience in public health. He has worked extensively in the control of infectious diseases as well as in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs to address both communicable and non-communicable diseases. He currently heads the Department of Community Health Sciences and the Prevention Research Center at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

As a senior advisor to Commissioner Frieden since 2007, Dr. Farley has helped implement the New York City's Health Department's groundbreaking efforts to make calorie information accessible in chain restaurants and to reduce the salt content of processed foods. He has also advised the Health Department on HIV control, the prevention of alcohol and drug overdose, and early-intervention strategies for children with special needs.

Dr. Farley began his public health career as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and later served as a medical officer at the Louisiana Office of Public Health. While there, he oversaw successful efforts to increase childhood immunization and control tuberculosis, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr. Farley worked extensively in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, working with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team on a long-term plan for rebuilding the city's public health and health care infrastructure. He was also a member of the Steering Committee for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, which helped pass local and statewide laws to eliminate smoking in restaurants. His 2005 book, Prescription for a Healthy Nation, shows how changes in the social environment can improve health and combat the leading causes of premature death.

Dr. Farley earned his medical and public health degrees at Tulane University, and a BA from Haverford College.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

Jessica Scaperotti   (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)
(212) 788-5290

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