Michael Pentella, interim director of the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) since December, will become permanent director on June 1.
Pentella is a clinical professor of epidemiology in the University of Iowa College of Public Health and former associate director in the SHL. He takes over the position from Chris Atchison, who retired Jan. 5.
Previously, he was director of the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Massachusetts and before that an associate director for the disease control division at SHL, where he was responsible for infectious disease testing and newborn and maternal screening and was actively involved with bioterrorism preparedness, antimicrobial resistance and pandemic influenza planning.
In 2016, Pentella became the seventh recipient of SHL’s William J. Hausler Career Achievement Award, which recognizes a lifetime of achievement and professional activities that extend beyond the laboratory and greatly impact the field of public health.
Pentella chairs the Association of Public Health Laboratories’ Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee as part of his lifelong interest in laboratory biosafety issues. In 2017, he received APHL’s Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award. In 2016, he was given an Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of South Florida College of Public Health.
“Mike brings a wealth of experience to the position, and I’m confident he’ll provide capable leadership to this important state and university resource,” said John C. Keller, interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development, to whom SHL reports.