How Did I Get Here?

Julie Gerberding

Executive vice president for strategic communications, global public policy, and population health, Merck
  • Education
  • Brookings High School, Brookings, S.D., class of 1973
  • Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, class of 1977
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, class of 1981
  • Work Experience
  • 1981–88
    Intern, chief medical resident, fellow, University of California at San Francisco
  • 1988–95
    Assistant professor in-residence, UCSF
  • 1990–98
    Director, Epidemiology and Prevention Interventions Center, San Francisco General Hospital
  • 1998–2001
    Director, health-care quality promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • 2000–10
    Clinical professor, Emory University
  • 2002–09
    Director, CDC
  • 2009–10
  • 2010–14
    President, Merck Vaccines, Merck
  • 2015
    Executive vice president, Merck
  • Life Lessons
  • “Put each new opportunity that comes your way in your toolbox—you’ll never know when it’ll be useful.”
  • “Leadership is a privilege. I have that taped to my computer.”
  • “I baby-sat and would also spruce up people’s houses. I charged 25¢ an hour until 10 p.m. and then 35¢.”
  • “You were assigned a pregnant teenager and followed the mother and baby for years. That theme of integrated learning is still with me.”
  • Also got a Master of Public Health, at the University of California at Berkeley, in 1990
  • At the University of California at San Francisco in 1982
  • “The period when I worked there had an unprecedented number of public-health emergencies: anthrax, West Nile virus, SARS, monkey pox, Hurricane Katrina, and the loss of half the nation’s flu vaccines.”
  • “It bothered me at the CDC that girls in poor countries, who needed the cervical cancer vaccine, didn’t have access. I took that on as a personal mission.”
  • Senior year of high school in 1973
  • “I arrived at the same time as HIV. The Centers for Disease Control put out a report saying, ‘Don’t worry about HIV, it’s transmitted like hepatitis B.’ And I got hepatitis B from a needle stick.”
  • “Our HIV patients mainly died. We learned to be humble doctors and to include patients in their own medical decision-making.”
  • “I consulted as a science adviser for Edelman PR and on public health in Pakistan and South Africa. I loved it. Mostly, I just needed to rest.”
  • With President George W. Bush and Homeland Security adviser Tom Ridge for a smallpox announcement in 2002