President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly picked Massachusetts General Hospital infectious diseases chief Rochelle Walensky to oversee the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as its new director, two people with knowledge of the matter told Politico on Sunday.

Walensky will replace Dr. Robert Redfield, who assumed the role in March 2018, at a critical moment as the coronavirus surges across the nation and the government readies to distribute shipments of a vaccine that may finally offer relief after months of an unrelenting pandemic. 

She’ll also be tasked with rebuilding a health agency that’s been widely critiqued and downplayed by the Trump administration. 

Walensky is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a practicing infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, according to an online biography. Also serving as chair of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council, Walensky’s bio details her nationally-recognized work promoting HIV screening in the U.S. and seeking effective strategies for HIV care in South Africa. 

Biden has chosen one of the most respected infectious disease docs in the world,” Jen Kates, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, posted on Twitter Sunday afternoon in celebration of Walensky’s appointment. “She has a long history working on HIV and has, in the past year, become a tour de force in addressing COVID. She’ll take the helm of CDC at perhaps its most critical moment.”

The choice to name Walensky the CDC’s new director comes after a number of other doctors with ties to Massachusetts were tapped by Biden’s transition team to join his COVID-19 advisory board.

According to Politico, Biden plans to announce Walensky and multiple other important health officials this week, including former U.S. surgeon general and Brigham and Women’s hospitalist Dr. Vivek Murthy, who was also selected to serve on Biden’s advisory board.


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