Isaac Ghinai

Medical Director

Chicago Department of Public Health
Chicago , Illinois
Class of 2021
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Three words to describe me:
motivated, compassionate, adventurous
The best part of my job:
working directly with groups that have been marginalized, and the community partners who serve them, to devise and deliver impactful public health strategies
Something that would surprise others about me:
I once drove a Land Rover with a genomic sequencing laboratory in the trunk across sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Isaac Ghinai is a Medical Director at the Chicago Department of Public Health, overseeing testing and laboratory-based surveillance for COVID-19 and other pathogens of public health importance. From 2019 to 2021, he was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assigned to the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Public Health. In that capacity, he led Chicago’s response to COVID-19 in some of the local communities that are most vulnerable to the virus, including people experiencing homelessness and incarcerated individuals.   

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Isaac found himself on the front lines of investigating and responding to novel health threats. He led Illinois’ response to lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette products and was part of the CDC team that identified vitamin E acetate in illicitly sourced THC-containing products as a major cause of this new disease. 

Prior to joining CDC, Isaac was an Academic Clinical Fellow at the University of Oxford. He has worked as a physician and epidemiologist across Europe, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. He received a master’s degree in global health sciences from the University of Oxford and his medical degree and bachelor’s degree in international health from University College London. 

I have dedicated my career to improving the health of communities that have been economically or socially marginalized, including those living around the world and people experiencing homelessness, incarcerated persons and disproportionately affected racial and ethnic groups here in the US. 

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