President-elect Joe Biden has chosen the head of the infectious diseases division at Massachusetts General Hospital to serve as the next director of the Centers for Disease Control, which will put Rochelle Walensky at the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus response and vaccination effort.
Biden's transition team announced the appointment Monday, along with his nominations of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as health and human services secretary, Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith as chair of the COVID-19 Equity Task Force.
Biden also officially tapped Anthony Fauci as his chief medical adviser on COVID-19, and Fauci will continue as National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director.
“This trusted and accomplished team of leaders will bring the highest level of integrity, scientific rigor, and crisis-management experience to one of the toughest challenges America has ever faced — getting the pandemic under control so that the American people can get back to work, back to their lives, and back to their loved ones," Biden said, forecasting efforts "to expand testing and masking, oversee the safe, equitable, and free distribution of treatments and vaccines, re-open schools and businesses safely, lower prescription drug and other health costs and expand affordable health care to all Americans."
Walensky was described as an "influential scholar whose pioneering research has helped advance the national and global response to HIV/AIDS" and "one of America's most respected experts on the value of testing and treatment of deadly viruses."
A past Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council chair at the National Institutes of Health, she is originally from Maryland and received her master's in public health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Nunez-Smith is an associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center and co-chair of Biden's COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board.