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Once regarded as the gold standard for public-health agencies, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) faces an unprecedented crisis, fuelled by chronic underfunding and anger about the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now the agency has a new leader to try to put things right: Mandy Cohen, a physician who served as North Carolina’s health secretary until the end of 2021. She started her tenure as CDC director on Monday.