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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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DR. TOLLEFSON PROMOTED TO REAR ADMIRAL

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter September/October 2001 Volume XVI, No V

Dr. Linda Tollefson, FDA/Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Deputy Director, was promoted to Assistant Surgeon General (Rear Admiral) on August 1, 2001. Dr. Tollefson is the first female veterinarian in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to reach the O-7 (Rear Admiral) rank.

As the CVM Deputy Director, Rear Admiral (RADM) Tollefson is responsible for all public health programs and international activities. A primary focus of the Center's mission is human food safety, through assessing the safety and effectiveness of drugs used in animals intended for human consumption. RADM Tollefson is also responsible for the management and coordination of all Center projects under the National Food Safety Initiative. The Food Safety Initiative is designed to reduce the incidence of foodborne disease through extensive collaboration among the U.S. Federal food safety agencies, State governments, and private organizations.

RADM Tollefson is one of the founders of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for Enteric Bacteria (NARMS). NARMS monitors development of resistance in zoonotic enteric pathogens isolated from human and animal clinical specimens, from carcasses of food-producing animals at slaughter, and from retail food. NARMS was established in 1996 as a collaboration among several Federal agencies in response to concerns associated with the approval of antibiotics for use in food animals that are important for human medical therapy. The data generated from NARMS and follow-up outbreak investigations are used by several Departments and multiple agencies and are vital to the mission of the Public Health Service and to the health of the entire population.

Prior to becoming CVM's Deputy Director, RADM Tollefson served as Director of the Center's Office of Surveillance and Compliance. In that capacity, RADM Tollefson was responsible for all FDA surveillance, regulatory compliance, and enforcement activity related to veterinary medical drugs and devices and all activities, both pre-market and post-market, for FDA's animal feed safety program.

Before joining the Center for Veterinary Medicine in 1993, RADM Tollefson was Chief of the Epidemiology Branch in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. The Branch provides epidemiology support and expertise to all functions of the Center, including issues of foodborne disease, chemical contamination, use of epidemiology data for risk assessment, and surveillance of adverse reactions to food products and food and color additives.

RADM Tollefson was responsible for the development and implementation of the Center's Adverse Reaction Monitoring System, a post-marketing surveillance system that monitors adverse health effects associated with food products and food and color additives. While Chief of the Epidemiology Branch, RADM Tollefson also served as co-chair of the Center's Health Hazard Evaluation Board. The Board evaluates possible microbiological and environmental contamination of food and cosmetics, serves as the Institutional Review Board for the Center, and assists other Federal and State government agencies in providing assessments of health hazards.

A native of Indiana, RADM Tollefson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1976 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1980 from the University of Illinois, and a Master of Public Health degree from The Johns Hopkins University in 1984 with special training in epidemiology and biostatistics. RADM Tollefson has authored numerous scientific articles and book chapters. She earned Exceptional Capability Promotions to both the O-5 and O-6 grades and received many Public Health Service honors and awards, including the Meritorious Service, the Outstanding Service, and the Commendation Medals, for her leadership in epidemiology and public health surveillance. RADM Tollefson is currently president-elect of the American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians.