The newly appointed head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a sizable pay cut Tuesday following his previous record-setting salary.
Dr. Robert Redfield Jr.’s new salary will be $209,700 -- or $165,300 less than his original salary of $375,000, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said.
The previous figure was at least $150,000 more than any previous director of the Atlanta-based CDC has ever received.
Last month, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, opposed Redfield’s appointment in a letter addressed to Alex Azar, the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services.
The original salary of Redfield, 66, was almost twice that of his predecessor, Brenda Fitzgerald, who had the job for six months before resigning in January. Her annual pay rate was $197,300.
HHS officials said Redfield asked for the pay reduction because the topic had become a distraction.
By private industry standards, Redfield’s previous CDC salary is modest for someone with his resume, but his pay is high for the field of government public health.
“It is an exceptional amount of money for what we’ve seen in the past for (CDC) directors,” said Angela Beck, a University of Michigan researcher who studies public health workforce issues.
Redfield had a long career as a top HIV researcher, but he had no experience working in public health or managing a public health agency.
Nature Journal reported that Redfield had also been praised for his work to fight the opioid epidemic. He co-founded the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland.
Redfield was a candidate for the CDC job during the administration of President George W. Bush, the Washington Post reported. The job does not require U.S. Senate confirmation, the report said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.