AUGUSTA – Following a national search, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced today the appointment of Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., as director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC).
Dr. Shah comes to Maine CDC with broad experience in public health, most recently as director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, where he implemented key initiatives to address the State's opioid crisis, reduce maternal and infant mortality, and reduce childhood lead poisoning.
As an attorney and public health economist, Shah previously advised professionals and governments around the nation and globe about improving the delivery of health care. Earlier in his career, he worked for the Ministry of Health in Cambodia, with his work including investigating and managing disease outbreaks as an epidemiologist.
Shah received both medical and law degrees from the University of Chicago. He also studied economics at Oxford University.
"We are proud to welcome Nirav Shah to Maine CDC," said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "His expertise and enthusiasm will serve the state well as he leads the revitalization of our public health system to improve the health and wellbeing of Maine people."
"I'm delighted to join the dedicated staff of Maine CDC to continue their momentum in rebuilding the state's vital public health infrastructure," said Dr. Shah.
"I look forward to supporting the key initiatives of Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew, including restoring public health nursing, responding to the opioid epidemic, and avoiding the spread of vaccine-preventable disease."
"I am pleased that Maine CDC now has a permanent director in Dr. Shah," said Rep. Patty Hymanson, House chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services. "The health of Maine people is among our most critical priorities, and I'm confident that the state will benefit from his impressive experience and credentials."
"Dr. Shah has been a national leader in several areas during his tenure as State Health Official for Illinois and in his active participation in the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and I know he'll bring the best of what he learned to Maine," said Michael Fraser, Chief Executive Officer of ASTHO. "Public health is a team sport, and Dr. Shah is collaborative, enthusiastic, and knows what it takes to create meaningful health improvement. With the support of an excellent team in Maine, I look forward to partnering with Maine reach its health improvement goals."
Since January, the Maine CDC has hired 18 new employees, and 40 additional positions are approved to be filled.
Shah is scheduled to begin as CDC director on June 3.