Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and the Salt Lake Valley Board of Health have chosen a familiar name in public health circles to lead one of the state's largest local health departments.

Wednesday, they announced that Gary L. Edwards would leave his post as director of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department to take the helm of the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. He replaces Patti Pavey, who left the position in December.

Edwards, who holds a master's degree in health sciences, served the five-county southwest department for 12 years. Before that, he spent more than a decade working in the Utah Department of Health. He also served for one year as administrator with the Delaware County Health Department in Muncie, Ind.

He started his career in public health in 1981 as a health education specialist and continued in community health in different capacities in a number of programs. When he became executive director of the Southwest Health Department in 1993, he had to expand his base of knowledge to include nursing services, environmental health and bioterrorism preparedness.