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Brown appoints Napa public health officer to head CDPH



March 04, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership Professional Development & Education 

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Karen Smith, M.D., a Napa County public health officer and deputy director of Napa County Health and Human Services for more than 10 years, to be head of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). She will replace Ronald Chapman, M.D., who announced in December that he would resign as the department’s director.


Dr. Smith earned her medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine and master’s of public health degree from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She held positions at the Stanford School of Medicine from 1992 to 2004; served as assistant section chief at the state Department of Health Services Tuberculosis Control Branch from 2000 to 2001; and has been a faculty consultant at the Francis J. Curry International Tuberculosis Center since 1997.


In her new position, Dr. Smith will work with health departments in the state’s 58 counties, along with various statewide organizations, on issues ranging from emergency preparedness to infectious diseases.


Dr. Smith, a California Medical Association member, is expected to begin her duties as state health officer in late March. The position requires Senate confirmation.

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