Dr. Chávez holds Medical and Master of Public Health degrees, completed clinical training in Pediatrics, and advance training in Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. In 1987, Dr. Chávez joined the staff of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a member of the elite Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). Upon completion of his training as a medical detective, he joined CDC's Preventive Medicine Residency Program assigned to the Epidemiology Program Office.
In 1990, he joined CDC's Division of Reproductive Health as a Medical Officer and field assignee to the California Department of Health Services. During his initial assignment to California, Dr. Chávez served as State MCH Epidemiologist and Maternal and Child Health Director. Dr. Chávez subsequently returned to Atlanta to serve CDC as Director of the new Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities where he directed a variety of complex and far-reaching national and international public health activities.
Upon his return to California as a CDC field assignee, Dr. Chávez joined the California Department of Health Services as Associate Director and State Epidemiologist later also serving as Interim Chief of the Division of Communicable Disease Control. Dr. Chávez presently serves as the founding Chief of the Center for Infectious Diseases, Deputy Director, and State Epidemiologist in the new California Department of Public Health (CDPH), coordinating the Department’s epidemiologic response to disease outbreaks and emerging health threats and administering over $800 million dollars in infectious disease prevention and treatment programs. Dr. Chavez is a frequent spokesperson for the department on media, legislative, and public forums.
Dr. Chávez also serves as Senior Research Medical Officer in the Research and Outcomes Branch, Division of Public Health Performance Improvement, Office for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support (OSTLTS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this capacity, Dr. Chávez provides senior level expertise and advise to OSTLTS on epidemiology, public health research, and science-based policy development.
Dr. Chávez is a frequent speaker and lecturer in local, national, and international conferences. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine, University of California Davis. Dr. Chávez has authored or co-authored 80 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, reports, and book chapters. He serves as a peer-reviewer for numerous clinical, public health, and epidemiology journals. Dr. Chávez has received numerous honors and awards at the state and national levels for his contributions to public health and epidemiology. Dr. Chávez has served as a Temporary Advisor to the World Health Organization, Consultant to the World Bank, and expert on public health issues around the world.