The Biden Administration is beginning to take shape already, and the president-elect has said he wants to make tackling the COVID-19 pandemic his number-one priority.
To that end, Biden has already named a 13-member advisory task force to deal with the pandemic moving forward, and there are three UCSF doctors on the list of names. As KPIX reports, Dr. David Kessler, a former dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and a professor of pediatrics, and of epidemiology and biostatistics, has been named one of three co-chairs of the advisory board. And also on the board are Dr. Eric Goosby and Dr. Robert M. Rodriguez, who are on the UCSF faculty.
"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."
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general under former President Barack Obama, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate professor of internal medicine, public health, and management at Yale School of Medicine, have also been named co-chairs. And the other members of the task force, per KRON4, are Dr. Luciana Borio, Dr. Rick Bright, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Dr. Atul Gawande, Dr. Celine Gounder, Dr. Julie Morita, Dr. Michael Osterholm, and Ms. Loyce Pace. Ms. Pace, the only non-medical professional, has served as executive director of the Global Health Council since 2016.
UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood issued a statement saying, "I wish Drs. Kessler, Goosby and Rodriguez the best as they assume these critical leadership roles. 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."
Hawgood added, "UCSF looks forward to working with President-elect Biden’s administration. We remain committed as ever to our partnership with public health officials at the national, state, and local levels."
UCSF emerged as an early leader in tackling the pandemic this year, just as San Francisco earned praise for having he lowest mortality rate from COVID-19 of any major city. The current chair of the medical school, Dr. Bob Wachter, has been a frequent commenter in local media on the city and national outlook for the disease, and as he told SFist in July, he was confident that the city would avoid an out-of-control surge and said, "I think the quality of healthcare in San Francisco hospitals is high."
Back in April, a team at UCSF used technology they were already using in the fight against HIV and other diseases to identify ten existing drugs and compounds that appeared to have a high likelihood of effectiveness as treatments for COVID-19. And UCSF has continued to be at the forefront of vaccine and treatment trials in the months since.