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Ashish Jha to return to Brown after heading White House COVID response


Ashish Jha to return to Brown after heading White House COVID response

Jun 08, 2023 | 5:03 pm ET
By Kevin G. Andrade
Ashish Jha to return to Brown after heading White House COVID response
Dr. Ashish K. Jha is coming back to lead the Brown University School of Public Health after spending 14 months on temporary leave to lead the U.S. government’s COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts. (Brown University photo)

PROVIDENCE — The White House COVID-19 Response coordinator will be returning to his post at the Brown University School of Public Health on July 1.

Ashish Jha left his position as dean of the school in March 2022 to take on the post, after becoming one of the most widely sought after experts during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are in a world drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jha said in a press release Thursday. “For all we have accomplished to reduce illness and save lives, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in our public health and health care systems. I look forward to returning to Brown to continue our groundbreaking work transforming public health education, research and practice to convert these weaknesses to strengths.”

Over the 18 months he served as the school’s dean before taking on his White House role, Jha focused on recruiting world-class faculty with expertise in global health, information disorders, health policy reform, and pandemic preparedness and response.

“Ashish’s willingness to serve the nation in a moment of such tremendous challenge, and his commitment to focusing on science and solutions, sets an excellent example for every aspiring public health leader,” Brown University Interim Provost Larry Larson said. “We’re excited to welcome him back to Brown. At the same time, we are deeply grateful to Ron Aubert for his outstanding leadership in ensuring continued positive momentum at the School of Public Health.”

Ron Aubert served as interim dean during Jha’s 14 month absence and continued to oversee Brown’s Health Equity Scholars program established in 2021. The program focuses on recruiting graduates from historically Black colleges and universities, Latino-serving institutions (such as Rhode Island College), and Rhode Island residents.

The school also launched a Pandemic Center in Sept. 2022 with the goal of connecting policymakers with data-driven recommendations to mitigate disruption during global epidemic events.

“I’m grateful to the scholars, educators and students who have continued to advance Dean Jha’s vision and who make the School of Public Health a dynamic and impactful place to work and study,” Aubert said. “Their collective research continues to improve lives in Rhode Island and around the world. We are all very excited about the return of Dean Jha and look forward to quickly translating his real-world, real-time policy work into the educational experience of our students.”

Jha said he intends to employ insights from his time as Covid-19 Response Coordinator toward the development of programs at the School of Public Health.