Austrian Politician and Doctor Pamela Rendi-Wagner in the Race for the Head of the ECDC

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: February 15, 2024; 23:42 ♦ (Vindobona)

The former leader of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and qualified doctor Pamela Rendi-Wagner is facing a potential new challenge in her career. She is on the shortlist for the position of head of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an important EU authority based in Stockholm.

Doctor and ex-SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner could become head of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / SPÖ Presse und Kommunikation / SPÖ-Klub / Elisabeth Mandl [CC BY-SA 2.0]

The decision on who will succeed the current director, German physician Andrea Ammon, is to be made next week. Ammon will vacate her position in mid-June 2024, as reported by ORF. The decision on the new head of the ECDC will be made by an Administrative Board made up of representatives from all EU member states, members of the EU Commission, and the EU Parliament. For a successful election, a candidate requires a two-thirds majority of votes in the Administrative Board. In addition to Rendi-Wagner, there are three other people in the running for the post of head, making the decision-making process an exciting one. The first round of voting is scheduled for February 21, with the possibility of a second round and a final result on February 22.

Rendi-Wagner, who is a doctor among other things, and served as Director of Public Health between 2011 and 2017, has emerged as a strong candidate for the post thanks to her medical expertise and experience in political office, including as Minister of Health and ECDC board member. Her application for the top job at the EU agency has received broad support, including from the Austrian government, which "naturally supports" her candidacy, according to Foreign Ministry circles, as reported by the newspaper "DerKurier".

Rendi-Wagner: Experienced doctor and politician

Pamela Rendi-Wagner, born on May 7, 1971, in Vienna, is a prominent Austrian politician and doctor who is particularly known for her expertise in the field of public health and tropical medicine. Her academic career is characterized by her medical studies at the University of Vienna, which she completed. In the course of her career, she acquired specialized knowledge in tropical medicine and public health, which significantly shaped her later professional orientation.

Rendi-Wagner began her career in the healthcare sector and quickly established herself as an expert in her field. Her skills and commitment eventually led her into politics, where she served as a member of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ). Her political career took off when she served as Austria's Federal Minister for Health and Women's Affairs in Chancellor Christian Kern's cabinet from 2017 to 2019. In this role, she campaigned for comprehensive healthcare reforms and the promotion of women's rights.

After her time as Minister of Health, Rendi-Wagner took over the leadership of the SPÖ in 2018, making her the first woman to head the party. Her tenure as party leader was characterized by her commitment to social justice, health policy, and equality.

In addition to her political career, Rendi-Wagner is also recognized for her academic work. In her medical career, Pamela Rendi-Wagner has worked primarily in the field of infectious disease prevention. Her expertise extends particularly to tropical medicine and immunization, as evidenced by her scientific publications on topics such as vaccine safety and immunogenicity, response to hepatitis B vaccines, and herd immunity following mass vaccination against rotavirus gastroenteritis.

Her research has made significant contributions to medical science, including studies on the safety and efficacy of an inactivated Japanese encephalitis vaccine produced in Vero cells, the immune response to three recombinant hepatitis B vaccines, and universal mass vaccination against rotavirus gastroenteritis and its impact on hospitalization rates in Austrian children. She has researched and published on various other public health topics, further raising her profile as an expert in this field.