Nahid Bhadelia, an Indian-American infectious diseases physician and founder of Boston University’s Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research (CEID), has joined the White House COVID-19 Response Team as senior policy advisor for global COVID response. The team’s founding goal was to create a unified national response to the pandemic, The Brink reported on July 13.

A Boston University (BU) School of Medicine associate professor of infectious diseases, Bhadelia is taking a sabbatical for the duration of the full-time position; while David Hamer, a BU School of Public Health professor of global health, will serve as interim head of CEID.

“Dr. Bhadelia is widely known as an international expert and leader in highly communicable and emerging infectious diseases,” says Gloria Waters, BU vice president and associate provost for research. Bhadelia is also an associate director of BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) and helped launch and develop the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Centre, BU’s primary teaching hospital.

“She has extensive clinical, field, academic, and policy experience in pandemic preparedness,” says Waters. “Her background in health and human security, international affairs, and her training in infectious disease, coupled with her extensive experience in health system response to emerging infectious diseases – such as Ebola, Zika, and more recently, COVID-19 – have provided her with invaluable insights into the underlying challenges to pandemic preparedness.”

Bhadelia brings a broad global health background to the White House position. She worked in West and East Africa during multiple Ebola virus outbreaks, contributed to pandemic preparedness in Liberia and Uganda, and codirects the BU and University of Liberia Emerging and Epidemic Virus Research Programme, which is funded by the Fogarty International Centre. She’s also a member of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group for Universal Health and Preparedness Review, which is working to improve the metrics used to measure pandemic preparedness.

Since founding CEID in 2021, Bhadelia has grown it into a hub for research and actionable policies – the centre has contributed to congressional hearings, advised legislative offices, prepared policy briefs, and provided input on pandemic preparedness bills.

That work will continue under Hamer’s direction. An infectious diseases specialist, Hamer says Bhadelia has been a leader not just for CEID, but for the rest of the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Nahid has been a dynamic speaker, helping to effectively communicate about all aspects of the pandemic – from epidemiology to vaccination – to colleagues at Boston University and Boston Medical Centre, as well as the broader US population,” he says.

Dr. Bhadelia belongs to the Memon Community of Dhoraji in Gujarat. Her father is also a physician. She is an American but grew up in several different countries till the age of 11, in the Middle East and then in Sweden.

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