Schuchat in a statement confirmed that she planned to leave later this year to “allow more time for creative passions,“ adding that she had “the greatest respect and confidence in the CDC’s leadership and staff.”
A career CDC scientist for more than 30 years, Schuchat has served as the agency’s No. 2 official since 2015. She twice did brief stints as the CDC’s acting director, and was key to the federal government’s response to major infectious disease outbreaks including the H1N1 pandemic, SARS outbreak and the coronavirus crisis.
But she had clashed with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in recent months, a person familiar with the matter said. Another senior health official said Schuchat was in the running to become the agency’s director under the Biden administration before the position went to Walensky.
“I have enormous gratitude for Dr. Schuchat’s leadership and contributions over three decades, and during this very challenging period for our country,” Walensky said in a statement. “I will remain forever grateful that our paths crossed, even for just a short while.“
Schuchat was among the career health officials who sounded alarms about the severity of the coronavirus threat throughout 2020, even as then-President Donald Trump and other political appointees sought to downplay the crisis.
She was also pulled into internal battles over CDC scientific reports that Trump officials tried to interfere with last year — a monthslong episode that first began with a report that Shuchat herself had authored.