AUGUSTA — Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday appointed Dr. Nirav Shah, former head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, to lead the recently revamped Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shah will take over the agency, which falls under the Department of Health and Human Services, on June 3.
“I’m delighted to join the dedicated staff of Maine CDC to continue their momentum in rebuilding the state’s vital public health infrastructure,” he said in a statement, which referenced the opioid epidemic and reducing the spread of vaccine-preventable disease.
The CDC had been significantly understaffed during the administration of Gov. Paul LePage, but Mills has made it a priority to restore the agency’s depleted workforce. Since January, 18 people have been hired and another 40 positions have been approved to be filled.
“We are proud to welcome Nirav Shah to Maine CDC,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a statement. “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.”
Shah has a medical degree and a law degree, both from the University of Chicago, and also studied economics at Oxford University. According to information provided by the Mills administration, he has advised professionals and governments around the world on improving the delivery of health care and worked for the Ministry of Health in Cambodia, investigating and managing disease outbreaks as an epidemiologist.
His most recent job was as director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“I am pleased that Maine CDC now has a permanent director in Dr. Shah,” Rep. Patty Hymanson, the Democratic House chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, said in a statement. “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.”