New Leaders Bring Global, National Expertise to the Brown School of Public Health

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Brown University School of Public Health is welcoming new leaders bringing global and national expertise to advance the school’s work on pandemic preparedness and mis/disinformation. These hires mark the ongoing efforts and commitment of Dean Ashish K. Jha to expand the impact and reach of the school across the most urgent issues in public health.

Jennifer Nuzzo DrPH, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, will lead a new effort on Pandemic Preparedness and Response at SPH, expanding a deep and accomplished Brown team to address the urgent issues exposed in this pandemic and intrinsic to every pandemic, to alleviate human suffering and economic loss.

Scott Rivkees MD, former Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health, brings to SPH unique frontline experience managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation’s third most populous state with the largest fully-integrated department of health system. He joins SPH as a Professor of the Practice. 

Claire Wardle PhD, the co-founder of First Draft, will join an expanding effort at SPH on mis/disinformation and the information needs of communities as a Professor of the Practice.  Building on the groundbreaking work she helped launch and grew to empower people with the knowledge, understanding, and tools needed to find and follow trustworthy sources of information, Wardle will work closely with SPH professor of the practice Stefanie Friedhoff in directing research, education, and policy efforts around these issues.  

“These leaders bring to the Brown School of Public Health deep experience and knowledge, intellectual strength and courage, along with creative and ground-breaking thinking that has made and will continue to make a difference in the world,” said Dean Jha. “At Brown, they gain access to a great and growing School of Public Health and an extraordinary university committed to integrating learning, research and policy development across every intellectual, academic and geographic boundary.”

“This is a dynamic time for the Brown University School of Public Health. We are working on ensuring the strength of existing areas of focus and moving to advance new initiatives central to addressing urgent global challenges.  Important work continues on addiction, aging, and HIV; as we move to create new centers for research, education, and action on pandemic preparedness, climate change, and health data science, combating information disorders, and addressing racism in public health to promote equity,” Dean Jha said.

Jennifer Nuzzo DrPH, is a long-time academic and policy leader with strong connections to those on the front lines of pandemics. For more than a decade – and long before COVID-19 – Nuzzo has been a leader in seminal work around pandemic preparedness. She engages effectively across disciplines, across sectors, and at the Pandemic Preparedness Center being created at SPH, she will lead efforts to bring together people from different backgrounds and specialties to work together for progress on these complex problems, and to educate students training in public health who must understand how pandemics affect societies. 

“COVID-19 has extracted unprecedented tolls on our health and all of society. And yet, as challenging as the ongoing pandemic has been, we know that the risk of more pandemics grows each year.  We must be ready. We can’t emerge from this crisis to simply repeat our mistakes,” said Nuzzo. “It’s time for new thinking, new collaborations and new research of what it means to be prepared. Building on the impactful pandemics work already underway at Brown SPH, a new Center for Pandemic Preparedness and Response can redefine preparedness in a way that captures the extraordinary lessons from COVID-19, as well as improve understanding of what it means to be ready for other not yet seen threats.”

Scott Rivkees MD, was on Florida’s and the nation’s front lines in the fight against COVID-19, interacting with local, state and federal partners. He was engaged in the development and implementation of strategies to slow the spread of the pandemic, improve healthcare, and encourage vaccinations. He brings unique, real-time, real-life public health and policy experience to Brown. 

“There is so much that has been learned and so much yet to be learned from our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown provides a unique opportunity to focus on the practice of public health and share that knowledge with those entrusted to keep the public safe and healthy,” said Rivkees. “At Brown, we will build on the strengths of one of the nation’s leading schools of public health and universities to create exciting new knowledge that will lead to meaningful impact on our society.”

Claire Wardle PhD, has done groundbreaking work at First Draft and elsewhere, helping to define and develop an entire new field of research and understanding around mis- and disinformation. At SPH, Wardle will return to her academic roots to build on this work and drive novel, multidisciplinary research on the harms of mis- and disinformation and effective ways to combat the intentional and unintentional spread of false information. She will also continue to lead strategy for First Draft, providing training for newsrooms, state and national authorities, and community-based organizations. 

“Truth, accuracy, and the facts matter more than ever in our ever-changing, fast-paced world. I am committed to these values and I am excited to continue, and grow, this work with Dean Ashish Jha and the team at the School of Public Health,” Wardle said. “We launched a nimble start-up six years ago in a field no one understood. Now, we can reach even more people to even greater impact with the resources and intellectual support of a world class university.”

We look forward to these three exceptional leaders beginning their new roles in the School of Public Health over the coming months.