Meet the Commissioner

Shereef M. Elnahal, M.D., M.B.A., Acting Commissioner

Commisioner of Health Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA

Dr. Shereef Elnahal began serving as Acting Commissioner of Health on January 25, 2018.

Prior to leading the Department, Dr. Elnahal worked as a physician executive in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), serving as the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health (ADUSH) for Quality, Safety, and Value in the Veterans Health Administration. He was also an adjunct assistant professor at the Georgetown University Department of Health Policy and Management. In his capacity at the VA, he led efforts to improve the quality and safety of healthcare delivery to veterans. In addition, Dr. Elnahal has spearheaded unprecedented efforts around transparency in access and performance, as well as standardizing best practices that prevent opioid dependency, improve women’s healthcare, and enhance access to care for veterans. He has testified to the US Senate Veterans Affairs committee on the VA’s care delivery improvement efforts, and worked with members of congress in the House and Senate to pass key legislation that improves the lives of veterans. He also built a healthcare operations center that facilitated response efforts to facilities in crisis. In addition, Dr. Elnahal worked with facilities across the VA to build The Physician Ambassador Program, which is among the largest physician volunteer programs in the United States, as part of the broader effort to improve access. As the ADUSH, he managed a workforce of over 200 employees and an annual budget of over $180 million.

Dr. Elnahal was first appointed to VA by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow in 2015. In this capacity, he founded the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative, the major initiative meeting the organization’s priority of establishing consistency in clinical and administrative operations across the nation—a program that received media attention locally and nationally for the benefits realized to veterans. At Georgetown, Dr. Elnahal taught graduate courses on healthcare quality and performance. He has authored many publications on health care quality, operations management, and patient safety in journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), BMJ, the American Journal of Medical Quality, and the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

In previous work, Dr. Elnahal co-developed a published methodology that doubled clinic efficiency in the Johns Hopkins Pancreatic Multidisciplinary Clinic, cutting patient wait times by half. As an operations consultant for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,, he expanded on this work to improve care access for veterans and active duty service members. He also served on committees in the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, Chair of the Patient Safety and Quality Council at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Elnahal served on advisory boards for two firms focused on patient education and clinical operations. He also co-founded the Baltimore chapter of The Triple Helix, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that publishes an internationally-circulated journal on science in society. His civic contributions earned him the 2015 National Quality Scholar Award from the American College of Medical Quality. Dr. Elnahal has also served on non-profit boards such as the High Reliability Organization Council and the ADAMS Civic Engagement Committee in Sterling, Virginia.

Dr. Elnahal is a licensed physician, receiving a dual-degree M.D. and M.B.A. with Distinction from Harvard University, and has worked as a physician in training in Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Elnahal is a native of Linwood, NJ and is honored to return to his home state and serve the people of New Jersey.

Request for Meeting

Mailing Address:
Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
Phone: (609) 292-7837
Toll-free in NJ: 1-800-367-6543

Physical Address:
Department of Health
369 South Warren Street
Trenton, NJ 08608-2308
Driving directions

Last Reviewed: 3/19/2018