The White House announced today the appointment of Dr. Ashish Jha as its new COVID-19 Response Coordinator, taking over for Jeff Zients, who had led the effort since President Biden took office.

Jha comes to the White House from academia, most recently working as the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, while also advising the administration on pandemic response. In his new role, he’ll be responsible for coordinating the administration’s public health response as it looks to combat future COVID-19 variants.

“Thanks to all the progress we’ve made, Americans are safely moving back to more normal routines, using the effective new tools we have to enable us to reduce severe COVID cases and make workplaces and schools safer,” President Biden said in a statement announcing the move. “But our work in combatting COVID is far from done.”

“To lead this effort, I am excited to name Dr. Ashish Jha as the new White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator,” President Biden said. “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. 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.”

Jha has been Dean at Brown’s School of Public Health since September 2020. Prior to that, Jha had worked at Harvard University since 2004, with a concurrent stint at the Department of Veterans Affairs as a senior advisor mixed in from 2007-12.

Jha started at Harvard in 2004, as an assistant professor in both the Medical School and the School of Public Health, being promoted to associate professor in 2008 and to a full professor in 2013. He taught in both schools until August 2020. Jha also served as faculty director for the Harvard Global Health Institute from 2014 to 2020.

“We must continue to improve how our schools and workplaces cope with COVID,” President Biden said. “We must take special care to protect the vulnerable from COVID, even as many restrictions are lifted. We need to provide tests, treatments, and masks. We must fight the virus overseas, prepare for new waves, and new variants – all of which can be coming. And we must work with Congress to fund these vital steps, as time is running out to stay ahead of the virus.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.