Dr. Ashish Jha to replace Jeffrey Zients as Biden's COVID chief

Ashish Jha, MD, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, was tapped by President Joe Biden to serve as the next White House COVID-19 response coordinator.

Dr. Jha will succeed Jeffrey Zients, who has served in the role over the last 14 months.

"Dr. Jha is one of the leading public health experts in America, and a well-known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence," President Biden said in a March 17 statement. "And as we enter a new moment in the pandemic — executing on my 'National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan' and managing the ongoing risks from COVID — Dr. Jha is the perfect person for the job."

Scott Becker, publisher of Becker's Healthcare, said, "Dr. Jha is an incredibly talented and brilliant leader." 

Dr. Jha, a physician, health policy researcher and global health advocate, has served as dean of Brown University's School of Public Health in Providence, R.I., since September 2020.

During his tenure as dean, accomplishments include leading the school's launch of a new fully online Master of Public Health degree program, as well as efforts to broaden diversity among health professionals through the creation of the Health Equity Scholars program, according to a March 17 news release from Brown University.

Previously, Dr. Jha led the Harvard Global Health Institute and taught at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

He also served as an advisor this year on President Biden's National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

Dr. Jha's new appointment by President Biden begins April 5, and he will take a short-term leave from his position as dean for the assignment, according to the Brown University release. 

Mr. Zients, a former management consultant, led the Biden administration's COVID-19 response team through several large-scale public health efforts, including the vaccination of hundreds of millions of people and the distribution of free at-home rapid tests. "The progress that he and his team have made is stunning and even more important consequential. Lives have been saved," said President Biden in a statement. 

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