Speaker Biographies and Information

Opening Keynote

Eric S. Lander, PhD, President’s Science Advisor and Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Dr. Eric Lander is President Biden’s science advisor and the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He was formerly the President and Founding Director of the Broad Institute, a research institute that is closely affiliated with MIT, Harvard and five of Boston’s major hospitals and focused on genomic medicine.

Dr. Lander was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project. A geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician, he has played a pioneering role in the reading, understanding, and biomedical application of the human genome — including developing powerful methods for discovering the molecular basis of human diseases that are used around the world. He has received numerous national and international honors for his work.

Dr. Lander has served as a scientific advisor to the federal government across multiple administrations, including to the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense.


COI: none noted

COVID-19: From crisis to stability in research & policy

Carl Zimmer, Columnist, New York Times

Carl Zimmer is the author of fourteen books about science and a columnist for the New York Times. Zimmer started his career at Discover, where he served as a senior editor for four years. He went on to write hundreds of articles for magazines including National Geographic, The Atlantic, and Wired. Zimmer has contributed to the New York Times since 2004 and has been a columnist since 2013. His journalism has won numerous awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academies of Science, and the National Association of Science Writers.

Zimmer’s books include Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Mean to Be Alive, published this March, and She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, which won the 2018 National Academies Communication Award. Zimmer is professor adjunct in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University.


COI: None noted.

Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology, and of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Professor of Epidemiology, and of Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine; and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Professor Iwasaki received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Toronto (1998) and completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health before joining Yale’s faculty in 2000. She has received awards and honors, including the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in Biomedical Sciences, the Wyeth Lederle Young Investigator Award, Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases, the BD Biosciences Investigator Award, the Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research, and the Meritorious Career Award from the American Association of Immunologists. Professor Iwasaki has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 2014. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018, the National Academy of Medicine in 2019, to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2020, and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021. Dr. Iwasaki is at the forefront of COVID-19 pandemic, with respect to research, science communication, and public service. She is quoted in numerous media outlets with expert insights and is considered one of the 50 top experts to trust during the pandemic. Dr. Iwasaki is also well known for her advocacy on women and underrepresented minority in the science and medicine fields and has a large follower base in social media.


Grant/Research Support: Condair, Spring Discovery, 4Catalyzer, Al Therapeutics, D&D Pharmatech
Salary/Consultant Fee: 4Bio, Adaptive Biotechnologies, Boehringer lngelheim, lnProTherAps, RIGlmmune, Vedanta
Honorarium Expenses: Various organizations

Yvonne (Bonnie) Maldonado, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity at the Stanford School of Medicine

Yvonne (Bonnie) A. Maldonado, MD, is Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. She is also the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity at the Stanford School of Medicine.  Dr. Maldonado attended Stanford University School of Medicine.  She was a Pediatric resident and fellow in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  Dr. Maldonado then served in the Public Health Service in the Epidemiology Intelligence Service (EIS) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she was awarded the Alexander D. Langmuir Prize, named in honor of the founder of the EIS Program. She has led a number of NIH, CDC, USAID, Gates Foundation and WHO funded domestic and international pediatric vaccine studies, as well as studies in prevention and treatment of perinatal HIV infection in the US, India, Mexico and Africa.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic she has over 10 clinical, epidemiology and laboratory-based studies in this area and is involved in epidemiologic modeling at the University, state and national level.  She is the Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, and the American Public Health Association.  She is a member of the Board of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, a liaison to the USPHS Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and previously a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Office of Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Dr. Maldonado has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and is co-editor of the textbooks “Remington and Klein Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infant” and “Report of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases (Red Book)”.


Grant/Research Support: Pfizer, Pediatric COVID and Maternal RSV Vaccine Trials
Salary/Consultant Fee: Member, Pfizer Data Safety Monitoring Board, Non-COVID Vaccine Trials

Saad B. Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD, FIDSA, Director, Yale Institute for Global Health; Associate Dean (Global Health Research), Yale School of Medicine; Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Yale School of Medicine; Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health

Saad B. Omer is the Director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, and a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Yale University, Schools of Medicine and Public Health.  He has conducted studies in the United States, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and South Africa. Dr Omer’s research portfolio includes epidemiology of respiratory viruses such as influenza, RSV, and – more recently – SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19); clinical trials to estimate efficacy of maternal and/or infant influenza, pertussis, polio, measles and pneumococcal vaccines; and trials to evaluate drug regimens to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV. He has published over 360 papers in peer reviewed journals and has mentored over 100 junior faculty, clinical, and research post-doctoral fellows and PhD and other graduate students.


COI: None noted.

Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, FACP, Director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities University of Colorado and Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine and Colorado School of Public Health

Trained in internal medicine, infectious diseases, public health and health services research, from 1997-2015 Dr. Wynia was a leader in several program areas at the American Medical Association, including the AMA Institute for Ethics, the Center for Patient Safety, the Commission to End Health Care Disparities, and the Improving Health Outcomes’ section on Patient and Physician Engagement.  In 2015 he became the Director of the University of Colorado’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities.

Dr. Wynia has led projects related to ethics and professionalism in health care with the National Academies, the Joint Commission, professional associations and multiple government agencies, on topics including: public health and disaster ethics; understanding and measuring the ethical climate of health care organizations and systems; ethics and quality improvement; communication, team-based care and engaging patients as members of the team; medicine and the Holocaust; and inequities in health and health care. He has delivered dozens of named lectures and visiting professorships nationally and internationally and author of more than 170 published articles. He is an elected Fellow of The Hastings Center, past president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH), and past-chair of the Ethics Forum of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Ethics Committee of the Society for General Internal Medicine (SGIM). 


COI: None noted.

Climate change and human health: Navigating environmental, societal, and individual impacts

John Balbus, MD, MPH, Interim Director of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Balbus is the Interim Director of the new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity within OASH. A physician and public health professional with over 25 years of experience working on the health implications of climate change, Dr. Balbus has served as HHS Principal to the U.S. Global Change Research Program and co-chair of the working group on Climate Change and Human Health for the U.S. Global Change Research Program since he joined the federal government in 2009. Before coming over to the new Office, Dr. Balbus served as Senior Advisor for Public Health to the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Prior to joining NIEHS, Dr. Balbus was the Chief Health Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services. He received his MPH degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, his MD degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Harvard University.


COI: None noted.

Michelle Bell, PhD, Mary E. Pinchot Professor of Environmental Health, Yale University School of the Environment

Dr. Michelle Bell is the Mary E. Pinchot Professor of Environmental Health at the Yale University School of the Environment, with secondary appointments at the Yale School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences Division and the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering.  Her research investigates how human health is affected by environmental conditions, including air pollution and weather. Other research interests include the health impacts of climate change and environmental justice. Much of this work is based in epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental engineering. The research is designed to be policy-relevant and contribute to well-informed decision-making to better protect human health and benefit society. She is the Director of the EPA-funded Solutions to Energy, AiR, Climate, and Health (SEARCH) Center. Dr. Bell received the Price Albert II de Monaco / Institut Pasteur Award, Health Effects Institute New Investigator Award, and NIH Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and was recognized as a highly cited researcher (top 1% worldwide by field and year) for the past three years.


Grant/Research Support:  NIH, EPA, Health Effects Institute, Wellcome Trust, High Tide Foundation
Salary/Consultant Fee: University of Montana, EPA
Honorarium/Expenses: IOP (honorarium: editorial duties), NIH, HEI, & others (honorarium: proposal review). Various organizations (travel expenses).

Michael Méndez, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental Planning and Policy at the University of California, Irvine

Dr. Michael Méndez is an assistant professor of environmental policy and planning at the University of California, Irvine. He previously was the inaugural James and Mary Pinchot Faculty Fellow in Sustainability Studies and Associate Research Scientists at the Yale School of the Environment. Michael has more than a decade of senior-level experience in the public and private sectors, where he consulted and actively engaged in the policymaking process. This included working for the California State Legislature as a senior consultant, lobbyist, a member of the California State Mining & Geology Board, and as vice chair of the Sacramento City Planning Commission. In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Dr. Mendez to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. The board regulates water quality in a region of 11 million people.

​During his time at UC Irvine and Yale, he has contributed to state and national research policy initiatives, including serving as an advisor to a California Air Resources Board member, and as a participant of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s workgroup on “Climate Vulnerability and Social Science Perspectives.” Michael is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS), and is on the board of directors of the social justice nonprofit, Alliance for a Better Community. He also serves as a panel reviewer for the National Academies of Sciences’ Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP).

Dr. Méndez holds three degrees in environmental planning and policy, including a PhD from UC Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning, and a graduate degree from MIT. His research on the intersection of climate change and communities of color has been featured in national publications including National Geographic, Los Angeles Times, Politico, Urban Land (published by the Urban Land Institute); the Natural Resources Defense Fund Annual Report; the American Planning Association’s Planning Magazine; Green 2.0: Leadership at Work; USA Today; and Fox Latino News. His new award-winning book “Climate Change from the Streets,” published through Yale University Press (2020), is an urgent and timely story of the contentious politics of incorporating environmental justice into global climate change policy. The book was the winner of the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award, sponsored by the International Studies Association (ISA), and a finalist for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning’s John Friedmann Book Award

Stocks/Bonds:  Tesla

Marshall Shepherd, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Georgia

Dr. Marshall Shepherd is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia and Director of its Atmospheric Sciences Program.  Dr. Shepherd was the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society (AMS). Prior to academia, he spent 12 years as a scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and was Deputy Project Scientist of the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission. Dr. Shepherd is the host of The Weather Channel’s Weather Geeks Podcast and a senior contributor to Forbes Magazine. In 2021, Dr. Shepherd was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  The only member of the University of Georgia faculty to ever achieve this trifecta. He has received numerous awards including the 2004 White House PECASE Award, the Captain Planet Foundation Protector of the Earth Award, the 2019 AGU Climate Communication Prize, the 2020 Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science and the 2018 AMS Helmut Landsberg Award. He received his B.S., M.S. and PhD in meteorology from Florida State University. He has two TEDx talks on climate science and communication that collectively exceed two million viewers. He is routinely asked to brief the media, Congress, and the White House on weather-climate-science related topics. Dr. Shepherd has almost 100 peer-reviewed publications on various topics.


COI: None noted.

Climate change and human health: Navigating environmental, societal, and individual impacts

Emily K. Brunson, MPH, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Texas State University

Emily K. Brunson, an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, is an applied cultural anthropologist with degrees in epidemiology (MPH) and anthropology (PhD) from the University of Washington. Her research focuses on how political, economic and social structures (including class and racial/ethnic inequalities); social networks; and personal experiences intersect to create health outcomes for individuals and communities. In collaboration with diverse stakeholders, she has translated her scholarly research into actionable recommendations for both practitioners and policymakers. She is currently co-leading CommuniVax— a national alliance of social scientists, public health experts, and community advocates who seek lasting solutions to health inequity generally and, more particularly, to inequities facing historically underserved Black and Latinx populations in relation to COVID-19 vaccination.


COI: None noted.

Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, Dana and David Dornsife Dean and Distinguished University Professor of Epidemiology, Drexel University School of Public Health

Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PHD, MPH, is Dean and Distinguished University Professor of Epidemiology at the Dornsife School of Public Health and Director of the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative. Originally trained as a pediatrician in her native Buenos Aires, she completed public health training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. Before joining Drexel University, she served on the faculties of Columbia University and the University of Michigan, where she was Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health. Dr. Diez Roux is internationally known for her research on the social determinants of population health and the study of how neighborhood built and social environments  affect health. Her work on neighborhood health effects has been highly influential in the policy debate on population health and its determinants. Her work bridges environmental and social epidemiology. Her research areas include social epidemiology and health disparities, environmental health effects, urban health, psychosocial factors, cardiovascular disease epidemiology, social environment-gene interactions, and the use of multilevel methods and complex systems approaches in population health.  She has led large NIH and foundation funded research and training programs in the United States and in collaboration with various institutions in Latin America and is currently Principal Investigator of the Wellcome Trust funded SALURBAL (Salud Urbana en América Latina/Urban Health in Latin America Study) study.  Dr. Diez Roux has served on numerous editorial boards, review panels and advisory committees including the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) of the Environmental Protection Agency (as Chair), the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) of the National Center for Health Statistics, the Committee on Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment of the International Council for Science (ISCUS), and CDCs Community Preventive Services Taskforce. She has received the Wade Hampton Frost Award for her contributions to public health from the American Public Health Association, the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Epidemiology from the American College of Epidemiology, and the Rothman Career Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research. She is an elected member of the American Epidemi­ological Society and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2009. Dr. Diez Roux has been an active mentor of doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty from diverse backgrounds.


COI: None noted.

Edward Maibach, PhD, University Professor, George Mason University and Director, George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication

Edward Maibach is a Distinguished University Professor at George Mason University and Director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication. His research focuses on public understanding of climate change and how to improve it, and he co-leads several major public education initiatives including Climate Matters (which supports TV weathercasters as local climate educators) and the Medical Society Consortium for Climate and Health. In 2020, Ed won the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication (with Anthony Leiserowitz), and in 2021 was identified as one of the world’s top 10 most influential scientists working on climate change by Thompson Reuters. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ed earned his PhD in communication science at Stanford University, his MPH at San Diego State University, and his BA at University of California, San Diego. Ed previously served as Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute, and Worldwide Director of Social Marketing at Porter Novelli, and he currently serves on the board member of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

COI: None noted.

Secretary Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Washington state Secretary of Health and former Executive Director and Local Health Authority for Harris County Public Health

The Secretary of Health enforces all laws created for the protection of public health and all rules established by the State Board of Health.

Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, was appointed Secretary of Health by Governor Jay Inslee on December 21, 2020. Prior to this, Dr. Shah served as Executive Director and Local Health Authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – the nationally accredited county public health agency for the nation’s third largest county with 4.7 million people.

Dr. Shah earned his BA (philosophy) from Vanderbilt University; his MD from the University of Toledo Health Science Center; and completed an Internal Medicine Residency, Primary Care/General Medicine Fellowship, and MPH (management), at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He also completed an international health policy internship at World Health Organization headquarters in Switzerland.

Upon completing training, Dr. Shah began a distinguished career as an emergency department physician at Houston’s Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center. He started his formal public health journey as Chief Medical Officer at Galveston County’s Health District before joining HCPH to oversee its clinical health system and infectious disease portfolio. Under his leadership, HCPH has won numerous national awards including recognition as Local Health Department of the Year from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in 2016.

Dr. Shah currently holds numerous leadership positions with respected entities like the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Trust for America’s Health; Network for Public Health Law; and Texas Medical Association. He previously served as president of NACCHO (and its Texas affiliate) representing the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments.

Over his career, Dr. Shah has been a clinician, an innovator, an educator, and a leader in health.


COI: None noted.

President’s Forum:

Responding to global crises: Future directions in science and policymaking to address complex threats to society

Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor

Gina McCarthy is the first National Climate Advisor—the president’s chief advisor on domestic climate policy—and leads the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy focused on mobilizing a whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis, creating good-paying, union jobs, and securing environmental justice. Previously, she served as 13th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and then as President and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). One of the nation’s most trusted and accomplished voices on climate issues, she has been at the forefront of environmental and public health progress in a variety of leading roles for over three decades.        

In her time leading the EPA, McCarthy oversaw successful efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate air pollution, conserve critical water sources, and safeguard vulnerable communities from chemical hazards. She spearheaded the Obama-Biden Administration’s Clean Power Plan, which set America’s first-ever national standards for lowering carbon emissions from power plants, and helped pave the way for the Paris Climate Agreement. Prior to her role with the NRDC, McCarthy was a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and currently serves as chair of the board of directors of the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment.  

Throughout her career, McCarthy has advised five administrations of both Democratic and Republican Massachusetts governors on environmental matters, and she served as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection prior to being appointed by President Obama to head up the EPA’s Air Office. As EPA administrator, she pursued innovative global collaborations with the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and on global efforts to address pollution. Born and raised in Boston, McCarthy graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston and earned a master of science at Tufts University. 


COI: none noted.

Greg A. Adams, Chair and CEO, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals

 Greg A. Adams is the chair and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente.

A nationally recognized leader and a champion of health care transformation, improving access, and advocating for better health outcomes, Adams, since his time with Kaiser Permanente, has been driving the comprehensive work focused on growing the organization’s membership, improving affordability for members, and transforming and expanding access to care.

Adams has 30 over years of leadership experience as a senior health care executive and has played an integral role in leading the transformation and improvement of patient care outcomes at Kaiser Permanente. In addition, Adams has been a key leader in driving Kaiser Permanente’s mission of providing high-quality care and coverage for its members.

Adams is a member of the board of directors for America’s Health Insurance Plans, is both a governor and steward within the Health and Healthcare Community at the World Economic Forum and chair of the Health and Retirement Committee of the Business Roundtable. Additionally, Adams is a member of the National Association of Health Services Executives, and The Executive Leadership Council. He also serves on the board of directors for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. He is a past member of the American Nurses Foundation, California Chamber of Commerce board of directors, and the California Hospital Association’s board of trustees.


COI: None noted.

Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement; and Former Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service

Donald M. Berwick is one of the leading scholars, teachers, and advocates in the world for the continual improvement of health care systems. He is a pediatrician, and a longstanding member of the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He founded and led the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, now the leading global nonprofit organization in its field. He was appointed by President Obama as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where he served in 2010 and 2011. He has counseled governments, clinical leaders, and executives in dozens of nations. He is an elected Member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Philosophical Society. He has received numerous awards, including the Heinz Award for Public Policy, the Award of Honor of the American Hospital Association, and the Gustav Leinhard Award from the Institute of Medicine. For his work with the British National Health Service, in 2005 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed him Honourary Knight Commander of the British Empire, the highest honor awarded by the UK to a non-British subject. 


COI: none noted

Howard Frumkin, MD, DrPH, Professor Emeritus, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington School of Public Health

Howard Frumkin, a physician and epidemiologist, is Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington, and Senior Vice President of the Trust for Public Land, where he leads that organization’s strategic efforts to assemble evidence, and drive evidence into policy and practice, on its priority areas: health, equity, climate action, and community.  Previously he was head of the Our Planet, Our Health initiative at the Wellcome Trust, Dean of the University of Washington School of Public Health, Director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Professor and Chair of Environmental and Occupational Health at Emory University.  His career has focused on health aspects of climate change, the built environment, energy policy, nature contact, and sustainability.  He is author or co-author of over 300 scientific journal articles and chapters, and his ten books include Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-Being, and Sustainability (2011 and forthcoming 2022), Environmental Health: From Global to Local (3rd Edition, 2016), Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves (2020), and Planetary Health: Safeguarding Human Health and the Environment in the Anthropocene (2021).  He was educated at Brown (A.B.), the University of Pennsylvania (M.D.), and Harvard (M.P.H. and Dr.P.H.). 


COI: None noted.

Rachel L. Levine, MD Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Rachel L. Levine serves as the 17th Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) where she fights every day to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. She’s working to help our nation overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and build a stronger foundation for a healthier future – one in which every American can attain their full health potential. Dr. Levine’s storied career, first in academic medicine, and as a physician then Pennsylvania’s Physician General and then as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, has focused on the intersection between mental and physical health, often treating children, adolescents, and young adults.


COI: None noted.

Michelle McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD, President and CEO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization

Michelle McMurry-Heath is the President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the world’s largest biotechnology advocacy group.

BIO represents nearly 1,000 life sciences companies and organizations from 30 countries. The organization’s mission is to support companies that discover and deploy scientific breakthroughs that improve human heath, environmental stewardship, and sustainable agriculture. 

Since assuming leadership of BIO on June 1, 2020, Dr. McMurry-Heath has positioned BIO as a leading champion of scientific innovation and the bio-revolution, which aims to use technological breakthroughs to cure patients, protect our climate, and nourish humanity. A common thread throughout McMurry-Heath’s career has been her focus on broadening access to scientific progress so more patients from diverse backgrounds can benefit from cutting-edge advancements. She calls the distribution of scientific progress “the social justice issue of our age.”

Before coming to BIO, Dr. McMurry-Heath worked at Johnson & Johnson, where she served as Global Head of Evidence Generation for Medical Device Companies and then Vice President of Global External Innovation and Global Leader for Regulatory Sciences. She was also instrumental in bringing J&J’s incubator, JLABS, to Washington, DC. She led a global team of 900 with responsibilities in 150 countries around the globe.

Prior to her time at J&J, Dr. McMurry-Heath was also a key science policy leader in government. The Obama-Biden transition team tapped her to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the National Science Foundation’s policies, programs, and personnel. President Obama then named her associate science director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health under Commissioner Peggy Hamburg. In that role, she championed clinical trial evolution, the use of real-world evidence in product evaluation, and an embrace of the patient’s voice in health research so new medical products deliver outcomes that matter to them.

McMurry-Heath was the founding director of the Aspen Institute’s Health, Biomedical Science, and Society Policy Program. She received her early training in science policy from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and later served as Senator Joe Lieberman’s top legislative aide for science and health. In that role, she drafted legislation to protect the country from biological attacks.

McMurry-Heath received her MD/PhD from Duke’s Medical Scientist Training Program, becoming the first African American to graduate from the prestigious program. She spent 12 years working at the research bench before taking policy and leadership roles in government and industry.  

McMurry-Heath lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Sebastian Heath, a veterinarian, and their daughter, Isabella. To relax, she enjoys yoga, snorkeling and her daughter’s sporting events.

COI: None noted.

Renee N. Salas, MD, MPH, MS, Yerby Fellow, Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Global Health Institute; and Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Dr. Renee N. Salas has served as the lead author of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change U.S. Brief since 2018 and founded its Working Group of over 70 U.S. organizations, institutions, and centers working at the nexus of climate change and health. She was a Co-Director for the first Climate Crisis and Clinical Practice Symposium – in partnership with The New England Journal of Medicineand spearheads the broader Initiative. Dr. Salas served on the initial planning committee for the National Academy of Medicine’s Grand Challenge on Health and Climate Change and has testified before Congress for the full House Committee on Oversight and Reform on how climate change is harming health. She engages in research on how climate change is impacting the healthcare system and developing evidence-based adaptation. She lectures and serves on committees at the nexus of climate and health nationally and internationally, advises and publishes in high impact journals, and her work and expertise are regularly featured in mainstream media outlets like the New York Times, NPR, Time, and the Associated Press.

Dr. Salas is Affiliated Faculty and previous Burke Fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and a Yerby Fellow at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also a practicing emergency medicine physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Her Doctor of Medicine is from the innovative five-year medical school program to train physician-investigators at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine with a Master of Science in Clinical Research from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Her Master of Public Health is from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with a concentration in environmental health.


COI: None noted.

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