Native Iowan Osterholm named to Biden’s COVID-19 task force

    President-elect Joe Biden has named Dr. Michael Osterholm, who grew up Waukon, Iowa and attended Luther College, to a new coronavirus task force. (Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota)

    President-elect Joe Biden has named native Iowan Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemologist, to a new 13-member coronavirus task force.

    Osterholm grew up in Waukon and attended Luther College. He is considered one of the nation’s top experts in infectious diseases.

    Osterholm currently is a professor of public health and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He also has worked for the State Department, ran the Minnesota Department of Public Health and served as Minnesota’s state epidemiologist.

    His 2017 book, “Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs,” made the New York Times’ best-seller list.

    “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,” Biden said in a statement. “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.”

    Advisory board members

    Here are the co-chairs and members of the advisory board, according to a Biden transition team news release:

    Dr. David Kessler
    David A. Kessler, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF. Dr. Kessler served as FDA Commissioner from 1990 to 1997, appointed by President George H.W. Bush and reappointed by President Bill Clinton.

    Dr. Vivek Murthy
    Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States from 2014-2017. During his tenure, he published the first Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health and launched campaigns to address the opioid crisis, e-cigarette use among youth, and mental health and emotional well being. As Vice Admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, he also commanded a uniformed service of 6,600 public health officers dedicated to addressing public health threats from Ebola and Zika to the Flint water crisis and natural disasters.

    Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith
    Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health, and Management at Yale University and the Associate Dean for Health Equity Research at the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Nunez-Smith’s research focuses on promoting health and healthcare equity for structurally marginalized populations.

    MEMBERS
    Dr. Luciana Borio

    Luciana Borio, MD, is VP, Technical Staff at In-Q-Tel. She is also a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Borio specializes in biodefense, emerging infectious diseases, medical product development, and complex public health emergencies. She served in senior leadership positions at the FDA and National Security Council, including as Assistant Commissioner for Counterterrorism Policy and Acting Chief Scientist at the FDA, and Director of FDA’s Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats.

    Dr. Rick Bright
    Rick Bright, PhD, is an American immunologist, virologist, and former public health official.  Dr. Bright was the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) from 2016 to 2020 and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services. He also previously served as an advisor to the World Health Organization and the United States Department of Defense. His career has focused on the development of vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics to address emerging infectious diseases and national security threats.

    Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel
    Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, is an oncologist and Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. From January 2009 to January 2011, he served as special advisor for health policy to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Since 1997, he has served as chair of the Department of Bioethics at The Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    Dr. Atul Gawande
    Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, is the Cyndy and John Fish Distinguished Professor of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Samuel O. Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Gawande is also the founder and chair of Ariadne Labs, a joint center between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for health systems innovation, and of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. He previously served as a senior advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration.

    Dr. Celine Gounder
    Celine Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and cares for patients at Bellevue Hospital Center. From 1998 to 2012, Dr. Gounder studied TB and HIV in South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Ethiopia and Brazil. While on faculty at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Gounder was the Director for Delivery for the Gates Foundation-funded Consortium to Respond Effectively to the AIDS/TB Epidemic. She later served as Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Bureau of Tuberculosis Control at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

    Dr. Julie Morita
    Julie Morita, MD, is Executive Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Morita helped lead the Chicago Department of Public Health for nearly two decades as medical director, chief medical officer and commissioner. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and has served on many state, local, and national health committees, including the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States.

    Dr. Michael Osterholm
    Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Osterholm previously served as a Science Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the State Department. For 24 years (1975 to 1999), he worked in the Minnesota Department of Health; the last 15 years as state epidemiologist.

    Ms. Loyce Pace
    Loyce Pace, MPH, is the Executive Director and President of Global Health Council. Over the course of her career, Loyce has championed policies for access to essential medicines and health services worldwide. Ms. Pace has worked with Physicians for Human Rights and Catholic Relief Services, and previously served in leadership positions at the LIVESTRONG Foundation and the American Cancer Society.

    Dr. Robert Rodriguez 
    Dr. Robert Rodriguez graduated from Harvard Medical School and currently serves as a Professor of Emergency Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine, where he works on the frontline in the emergency department and ICU of two major trauma centers. He has authored over 100 scientific publications and has led national research teams examining a range of topics in medicine, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of frontline providers. In July 2020, Dr. Rodriguez volunteered to help with a critical surge of COVID-19 patients in the ICU in his hometown of Brownsville, Texas.

    Dr. Eric Goosby
    Eric Goosby, MD, is an internationally recognized expert on infectious diseases and Professor of Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine. During the Clinton Administration, Dr. Goosby was the founding director of the Ryan White CARE Act, the largest federally funded HIV/AIDS program. He went on to become the interim Director of the White House’s Office of National AIDS Policy. In the Obama Administration, Dr. Goosby was appointed Ambassador-at-Large and implemented the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). After serving as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, he was appointed by the UN Secretary General as the Special Envoy for TB.

     

    Perry Beeman
    Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.