DDPHE Announces New Chief Medical Officer

Published on December 21, 2021

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) is proud to announce Dr. Sterling McLaren as its new Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

Dr. McLaren will succeed outgoing CMO Dr. Bill Burman. Dr. Burman served as Denver’s CMO in addition to his role as Director of the Public Health Institute at Denver Health (PHIDH), formerly Denver Public Health. He is retiring from both positions this month. Dr. McLaren will assume responsibilities as CMO in January. 

As CMO, Dr. McLaren will advise, plan, and administer medical decisions and public health programs and services intended to protect and improve the health of residents and the environment to achieve the department’s mission of helping Denver’s residents live better, longer. She’ll also work closely with DDPHE leadership to develop, recommend, and promote public health policy at the local, state, and national level. 

Dr. McLaren is currently a forensic pathologist with Denver’s Office of the Medical Examiner (OME), a division of DDPHE. Her unique background in forensic pathology, investigating the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, provides her with a distinctive perspective on public health. Forensic pathology, in partnership with epidemiological research, plays a pivotal role in developing strategies to prevent disease and injury.  This synergy between public health and forensic pathology has become especially clear in recent years, as OME was the first to recognize the recent record growth of fentanyl use in Denver and resulting overdose deaths.

“It has been said that medical examiners would serve well as advisors to the public health profession because they are the first to see emerging public health threats. In her current position, Dr. McLaren is faced with the public health issues plaguing our community firsthand. Her years of experience in the public health discipline, coupled with her experience as a forensic pathologist, will serve our community well,” said Bob McDonald, DDPHE Executive Director. “I’m excited to bring the position of CMO in-house and I believe Dr. McLaren will be dynamic in this role under the supervision of our Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Jim Caruso.” 

This is the first time the position of CMO will be held by a DDPHE employee. Moving the CMO position into the Department is part of a transition to consolidate public health functions within DDPHE to better serve the residents of Denver.

Dr. McLaren will continue to work at OME while serving as Denver’s CMO. As a published medical professional, she is Board certified in Forensic Pathology as well as Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.