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Rochelle Walensky to step down as CDC director

The doctor and infectious disease researcher is a longtime member of a Conservative synagogue in Newton, Mass.

Rochelle Walensky. Credit: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services via Wikimedia Commons.
Rochelle Walensky. Credit: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services via Wikimedia Commons.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Jewish infectious diseases expert and Harvard Medical School professor U.S. President Joe Biden appointed as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2021, announced that she is resigning at the end of June.

She led the agency during the height of the COVID-19 vaccination rollouts amid multiple variants.

“Her work at the CDC saved countless lives—providing pandemic leadership to the American public, modernizing data infrastructures and reorganizing the agency for the future,” stated Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

Walensky earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Washington University in St. Louis; a public health master’s degree from Harvard University; and an M.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She previously served as chief of the infectious diseases division at Massachusetts General Hospital.

She and her husband, Loren, and their three boys—Seth, Matthew and Joshua—have been members of Temple Emanuel, a Conservative synagogue in Newton, Mass., since 2011. The following year, the Walensky family traveled with the temple to Israel, which was “a formative experience for their family that cemented their connection to our community and our clergy,” according to the synagogue.

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