Brown University President Christina H. Paxson said Jha’s appointment brings a top scholar and highly regarded Brown academic leader to White House service, offering a prominent illustration of the ways in which the University can make a positive impact on domestic and global issues of significant consequence.
“Ashish will bring to President Biden and our nation what he has brought — and will bring back — to Brown: an unrivaled commitment to improving public health equitably, effectively, creatively, with heart and a commitment to science,” Paxson said. “The work he has begun at the School of Public Health will continue, with the strong team he has recruited and the full support of the University. And it will advance even further with the benefit of this experience in national and global leadership.”
In addition to his role as dean and public health scholar, Jha is a practicing physician with deep expertise in infectious diseases. He was appointed to lead the School of Public Health in February 2020, weeks before COVID-19 arrived in full force in the U.S., and he began as dean in September 2020.
He is a globally recognized expert on pandemic preparedness and response as well as on health policy research and practice. Over the past year, Jha has participated in Congressional hearings on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. Recently, he advised the White House on the President’s national COVID-19 preparedness plan.
Jha expressed enthusiasm about how he will build upon his work at Brown in role at the White House.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have worked at Brown to improve public understanding and information, and inform policy at every level of government here and around the globe,” Jha said. “I am honored to accept President Biden’s invitation to serve and continue that work. I do so confident that the work of the Brown School of Public Health will advance around critical issues including pandemic preparedness and key initiatives we have launched and are growing, to improve understanding and policy in key public health issues, and train the next generation of public health leaders.”
Building on momentum with a strong team
Since his start as dean, Jha has worked to strengthen and grow a public health school deeply engaged with solving the world’s most challenging health problems. Under his leadership, the school has launched a new fully online master of public health degree program and academic initiatives focused on long COVID, pandemic preparedness and health misinformation. The school created a Health Equity Scholars program to expand diversity among public health leaders, increased the number of tenure-track faculty from historically underrepresented groups and — backed by record-level SPH fundraising — brought to campus as faculty and new public health scholars and leaders from a diverse array of professional backgrounds.
Provost Richard M. Locke said Brown will build on that momentum during Jha’s time at the White House, continuing to cultivate and direct resources for faculty recruitment and retention, student financial aid, facilities and academic program development.
“Ashish Jha has built on a foundation of early progress from the School of Public Health’s first decade, growing its focus on tackling the most important issues in health policy and practice, devising new ways to expand the accessibility of Brown’s public health degrees and expanding the school’s reputation exponentially,” Locke said. “As he heads to the White House to play an important role in the continued challenge of COVID-19, we look forward to building further on that momentum before we welcome him back.”