October 5, 2022

Aakash Shah, M.D., has played a key role in shaping national healthcare policy and helped to lead the COVID-19 response for Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey.

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., Oct. 4, 2022—Recent White House Fellow Aakash Shah, M.D., will present this fall’s Gates-Ferry Distinguished Visiting Lecture at Centenary University on Tuesday, Oct. 18. In his lecture, “Reimagining Public Health and Public Safety,” Dr. Shah will share his perspective as a physician, as an advocate, and—most recently—as a White House Fellow to discuss new programs at the intersection of public health and public safety. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Sitnik Theater in the David and Carol Lackland Center on the University’s Hackettstown campus.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Centenary University students and members of the public to gain insights into the forces driving healthcare decisions on the local and national levels,” said Noah Haiduc-Dale, Ph.D., associate professor of history, who chairs the Speakers Committee, which assists in the selection process for the Gates-Ferry Distinguished Visiting Lecture. Dr. Haiduc-Dale noted that Dr. Shah will meet with small groups of Centenary students prior to the lecture.

As a White House Fellow during the 2021-2022 term, Dr. Shah was placed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A practicing emergency room doctor at Hackensack Meridian Health, he helped treat some of the earliest confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic. He is also the director of addiction medicine and the medical director of Project HEAL (a hospital-based violence intervention program) at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, as well as the medical director of New Jersey Reentry Corp. His work in those roles has resulted in several reforms and he received the bipartisan endorsement of five former New Jersey governors.

Dr. Shah previously served as the founder and executive director of Be Jersey Strong, which represented one of the largest and most diverse efforts to connect the uninsured to healthcare coverage in the nation, for which he was honored by President Barack Obama at the White House. In addition, Dr. Shah was an advisor to several local, state, and federal campaigns and policymakers. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine from Harvard Medical School, Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Comparative Social Policy from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science from Ursinus College. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Centenary University, where he served as the 2021 commencement speaker.



The Gates-Ferry Distinguished Visiting Lecture at Centenary University recognizes the dedication to the University of Joseph R. Ferry, trustee from 1948 to 1976 and treasurer of the Board of Trustees for 20 years. It was established to set high standards and goals for students and faculty, and to enrich the quality of life on the Centenary campus.


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township.

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