Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board
President-elect Joe Biden named members of his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board on November 9, 2020, two days after he became President-elect. He is facing a huge task in handling the pandemic. People who test positive for Covid-19 and hospitalizations related to the pandemic continue to rise. Controlling the spread of the virus is now and will be a challenge. IMHU is thrilled to see the Board, and heartened to know it represents scientific rigor, sensitivity to diverse populations, as well as an integrative perspective.
The advisory board Biden announced is co-chaired by:
- Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD. (photo on left ) He was a founder and president of Doctors for America, a group of more than 15,000 physicians and medical students supporting high quality affordable care for all. In 2011, Murthy was appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The group advises the National Prevention Council on developing strategies and partnerships to advance the nation’s health through prevention. Murthy is also the co-founder and chairman of Trial Networks, a cloud-based Clinical Trial Optimization System for pharmaceuticaland biotechnology trials that improves the quality and efficiency of clinical trials to bring new drugs to market faster and more safely. He founded the company as Epernicus in 2008, originally, to be a collaborative networking web platform for scientists to boost research productivity.
- David Kessler, MD (photo on right) who is an American pediatrician, lawyer, author, and administrator (both academic and governmental). He was the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from November 8, 1990, to February 28, 1997.
- Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD (pictured above) who is an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, where she is also Associate Dean for Health Equity Research and founding director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center. She is also the Director of the Center for Research Engagement, and Deputy Director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation. Nunez-Smith grew up in Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Nunez-Smith is an especially significant choice, since she studies discrimination in the healthcare system. This is an especially important topic as the pandemic has been very hard on Black, Native American, and Latino/Latina communities.
Biden acknowledged: ”Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts.”… “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”
Members of the Advisory Board
The board members who will work with the co-chairs includes:
- Luciana Borio, who was until 2019 director for medical and biodefense preparedness on Trump’s National Security Council;
- Rick Bright, the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority who became a whistleblower over the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic;
- Ezekiel Emanuel, of the University of Pennsylvania;
- Atul Gawande, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital;
- Michael Osterholm , Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy;
- Professor Eric Goosby, MD, of the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, who was global AIDS coordinator under President Barack Obama;
- Celine Gounder, of New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine;
- Julie Morita , Robert Wood Johnson Foundation executive vice president;
- Loyce Pace of the Global Health Council;
- Robert Rodriguez, another UCSF School of Medicine professor.
As promised, Biden is taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, and choosing some of our best scientists for the task of advising him on steps to take to benefit all Americans. His immediate grappling with the challenge is appropriate and is a bright spot on the horizon, also benefiting mental health.