Contagious Conversations: A Conversation with CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen


For the latest episode of our Contagious Conversations podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sworn in on July 10, Dr. Cohen joins CDC at a time of great change as the agency transitions out of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

“It's an honor to be part of the CDC, and particularly at a time where we are seeing unprecedented kinds of threats to our health coming at us from all directions,” Dr. Cohen said. “Whether it's viruses or heat or fires, and that's all just in the last week.” 

Two months into her tenure as director, Dr. Cohen shared her vision for the agency’s future, which health challenges she sees as most pressing today and how her career has prepared her for her new role. During our talk, Dr. Cohen discussed the challenges of delivering effective public health messaging in light of the country’s political divisions, emphasizing relationship building, transparency and performance as CDC priorities.  

“I believe that we can only change and improve health if we find that foundationally we have trust,” Dr. Cohen said. “We know there's been some erosion of trust, not just in the CDC, but in government, in science, in media recently, and so there's work to do to rebuild trust." 

A key element to rebuilding that trust is tapping into the resident expertise at CDC, Dr. Cohen said.  
“I love the ability to work with the folks here at the CDC every day,” Dr. Cohen said. ”Here, at every turn, you see an expert on malaria, an expert on mpox, an expert on flu, an expert on COVID, and then experts in laboratory science and experts on data collaboration. So, we are lucky to have those experts.” 

It was a pleasure to speak with Dr. Cohen at this momentous time. I encourage everyone to tune in to this latest episode to learn more about Dr. Cohen’s vision for CDC. 

Dr. Judy Monroe
Judy Monroe, MD, is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.