JACKSON, MS (WDAM) _ Six weeks ago, Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs was handed the reins of Mississippi’s State Department of Health on an interim basis.
Thursday, the Pine Belt practitioner was appointed the state’s top health figure on a full-time basis.
Dobbs, who practiced in Laurel and Hattiesburg, was tapped to run the agency as State Health Officer during the 11-person board’s regularly-scheduled December meeting.
Dobbs had served as Deputy State Heath Officer before assuming the interim role following the Oct. 31 resignation of former State Health Officer, Dr. Mary Currier, after a nearly nine-year run.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to help address the health needs facing all Mississippians,” Dobb said in a statement released by MSDH. “Although we have many challenges, we have great people, institutions and resources in our state to meet those challenges.
“The Mississippi State Department of Health has a long, proud history as a potent force of change and as an innovator. I am humbled to step into a role previous held by some of our nation’s public health leaders.”
Dobbs, a board-certified infectious diseases and internal medicine physician, spent two years in practice in Laurel, with a secondary practice in Hattiesburg. During that time, he also served as vice president for quality and chief medical officer at South Central Regional Medical Center.
Before that, Dobbs had served four years as the State Epidemiologist with MSDH after four years as a district health officer in southern Mississippi.
“The Mississippi State Department of Health is privileged to have someone of Dr. Dobbs’ experience and caliber to lead our health department as we continue to face challenges and changes,” Mississippi State Board Health chairman Dr. Ed D. “Tad” Barham said in statement.
“Dobbs’ knowledge of infectious diseases, his work both in the field and in the administrative arm, and his community involvement, will all be a great asset to the department.”
Dobbs graduated from Emory University and received a master’s degree in public health and his medical degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Dobbs has been active in public health research and advocacy, working globally through the Gorgas Tuberculosis Initiative in Russia and Cambodia, and in the United States through appointments at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the University of Florida (as regional clinical consultant with the Southeastern Regional TB Center).
Dobbs has an appointment at UMMC’s John D. Bower School of Population Health, teaching epidemiology and health policy.