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Public Profile

Richard Besser, MD
Richard Besser, MD

    Dr. Richard Besser is the senior health and medical editor for ABC News. He served previously as acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is the former director of CDC's Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response (COTPER), where he was responsible for all of CDC's public health emergency preparedness and emergency response activities. COTPER is the primary organization of the CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) tasked with oversight of terrorism preparedness, response and protection for the nation from biological, chemical, radiological, and naturally occurring emergencies.

    Dr. Besser began his career at CDC in the Epidemic Intelligence Service working on the epidemiology of foodborne diseases. He has served as the epidemiology section chief in the Respiratory Diseases Branch, acting chief of the Meningitis and Special Pathogens Branch in the National Center for Infectious Disease, and as the medical director of Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, CDC's national campaign to promote appropriate antibiotic use in the community. In addition, he has authored and coauthored more than 100 presentations, abstracts, chapters, editorials, and publications and has received many awards for his work in public health and volunteer service.

    Dr. Besser earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He completed a residency and chief residency in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.

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