“In Shah We Trust”

Many a Mainer has high praise for Dr. Nirav Shah’s handling of the coronanvirus pandemic. Fourteen fun facts about the state’s lauded, multilingual, song-quoting CDC director.

Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC
Photograph courtesy of Maine CDC


  1. Child of Indian immigrants
  2. Grew up in Wisconsin
  3. Majored in psych and bio at University of Louisville

Double Degrees

  1. Law degree from University of Chicago, 2007
  2. Medical degree from University of Chicago, 2008

Work History

  1. Attorney in Chicago law firm’s health-care division, 2008–2015
  2. Director, Illinois Department of Public Health, 2015–2019

Public Displays of Affection

  1. More than 30,000 members in the Fans of Dr. Nirav Shah group on Facebook, under the motto “Keep Calm and Listen to Dr. Shah”
  2. Text of an electronic road sign on Route 196 in Topsham: “In Shah We Trust” 

Language Skills

  1. Learned Khmer while working in Cambodia’s Ministry of Health on a 2002–2003 scholarship
  2. Speaks decent Gujarati, a language from the Indian state of Gujarat
  3. Knows a little Spanish as well

Quotable Quotes

  1. “Are we part of the cure, or are we going to be part of the disease?” (riffing on Coldplay lyrics)
  2. “In this life, you’re not on your own.” (riffing on Prince lyrics)