A Conversation with Nirav Dinesh Shah, '07, New Head of the Illinois Department of Public Health

In January 2015, Governor Bruce Rauner appointed Nirav Shah, JD’07, MD’08, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. He took office on Jan. 20. Soon after, ScienceLife met with Shah, 37, to discuss his hopes and plans for an organization created to “protect the health and wellness of the people of Illinois” and the training—much of it at the University of Chicago—that prepared him for the role.

About getting “the call”

Science Life: You have now been on the job for nine days. How does it feel so far?

Nirvana Shah: Those nine days have brought a level of busyness that I didn’t think was out there in the world, and this is coming from someone who spent years at one of the world’s biggest and busiest law firms. It has been outrageously busy, with many moving parts.

Sometimes it can be stimulating to hit the ground running. What made your first days here so challenging?

It’s a huge new job that requires a lot of rapid acculturation. Then, on Day Four, we had a case of measles. That dominated my first weekend.

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