Date January 31, 2024
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Washington hub for Brown’s Pandemic Center to enable new connections with policymakers

A newly opened Washington base for the Pandemic Center at Brown’s School of Public Health will expand impact and connect current and future public health leaders with national and global policymakers.

WASHINGTON, D.C. [Brown University] — With the opening of a new Washington, D.C., hub for the Pandemic Center at the Brown University School of Public Health, current and future public health leaders at Brown will now have even more opportunities to connect with global and national policymakers.

“With this office, we are expanding opportunities for students and faculty to engage directly with public policy and the people creating and implementing that policy,” said Pandemic Center Director Jennifer Nuzzo, a professor of epidemiology at Brown. “The Pandemic Center is about impact, educating and inspiring the next generation of diverse public health leaders and building the skills to prevent and respond effectively to infectious disease emergencies. This office is central to that goal.”

The office is situated in the National Press Building in downtown Washington, two blocks from the White House. Leaders from the School of Public Health traveled to the nation’ capital this week to celebrate the opening of the office, which will serve as the Pandemic Center’s Washington base.

“If you want to drive policy, Washington is indispensable,” said Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the School of Public Health, who served for 14 months as White House COVID-19 response coordinator. “If you want to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, Washington is indispensable. In order to do this work to make societies safer from pandemics, it has to be a multi-site approach. You can’t do it just from Providence.”

With interest in pandemic and biosecurity-related careers rising at Brown, leaders at the Pandemic Center are launching a new effort aimed at training the next generation of decision-makers and have compiled a growing list of internships, fellowships and other opportunities with global and Washington-based organizations that are working to combat pandemics.

The Pandemic Center also is providing mentorship for a number of Brown undergraduates, including students serving in placements within the center, as well as students serving in other organizations such as the Nuclear Threat Initiative and with the Office of the United States Surgeon General. With the new Brown health security hub in the nation’s capital, Pandemic Center leaders will continue to build strategic relationships that provide students with opportunities to learn, work and train.

“Two things really excited me about coming to Brown in this moment,” said Beth Cameron, a professor of the practice and senior advisor to the Pandemic Center. “We need to train the next generation of decision-makers — those who will be in the situation room — to be ready for worst-case scenarios, and we must be relentless and specific about the actions that are needed to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic so we are prepared for future biological crises.” Cameron, who is based in D.C., has served two tours as the White House National Security Council lead for global health security.

A key center goal is to educate a diverse cadre of pandemic decision-makers who can mobilize against natural, accidental or deliberate biological threats and focus on groups most likely to suffer harm, such as lower-income populations, said Wilmot James, a professor of the practice of health services, policy and practice at Brown and a senior advisor to the Pandemic Center.

“We have a responsibility to take lessons from the past while also looking ahead,” James said. “The first step is training the next generation and networking them globally. We must make a commitment to educate with a deep understanding of what happened and why, with an eye on the future.”