Biden's 13-member COVID-19 task force includes three from UCSF

By Elizabeth Fernandez

This morning, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced the establishment of a coronavirus advisory board, the first step in their commitment to developing a national strategy to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control. 

The Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board will provide public health and scientific advice to Biden, Harris, and the transition team’s COVID-19 staff.

“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,” said Biden 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.”

The three co-chairs are Vivek Murthy, MD, the surgeon general under former President Barack Obama; Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, associate professor of internal medicine, public health, and management at Yale School of Medicine; and UCSF’s David Kessler, MD, JD, professor of pediatrics, and of epidemiology and biostatistics, and former dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor of UCSF. Kessler served as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. 

Two other members of the UCSF faculty have also been named to the 13-person Advisory Board: Eric Goosby, MD, and Robert M. Rodriguez, MD.

Goosby, a UCSF professor of medicine, served as the interim Director of the White House’s Office of National AIDS Policy in the Clinton Administration and implemented the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in the Obama administration, among other senior leadership roles.

Rodriguez, a UCSF professor of emergency medicine, works in the Emergency Department of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and in the Intensive Care Unit at Highland Hospital in Oakland. He 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.

They will serve on the Advisory Board alongside Luciana Borio, MD; Rick Bright, PhD; Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD; Atul Gawande, MD, MPH; Celine Gounder, MD, ScM; Julie Morita, MD; Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH; and Loyce Pace, MPH.

“I wish Drs. Kessler, Goosby and Rodriguez the best as they assume these critical leadership roles,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, in a letter to the UCSF community. “They represent the extraordinary and relentless dedication the UCSF community has shown in meeting the challenge of the coronavirus across our patient care, research, and education efforts. Our public health mission has never been clearer nor pursued with greater determination.

“UCSF looks forward to working with President-elect Biden’s administration,” he said. “We remain committed as ever to our partnership with public health officials at the national, state, and local levels.”

See coverage in the New York Times and Washington Post.