Science & Tech

Welcoming Dr. Ashish Jha
New dean emerges as policy leader amidst global pandemic.

By Christina Paxson / November–December 2020
November 2nd, 2020

Earlier this year we were proud to announce a fantastic addition to Brown in the appointment of accomplished physician and leading health policy researcher Dr. Ashish K. Jha as the next dean of our School of Public Health.

Dr. Jha has an impressive background. He comes to Brown from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, where he served as the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. In fact, his is a name you may already well recognize as a frequent contributor on national news programs in which he is called upon to analyze some of today’s most pressing public health problems.

He has extensively researched improving the quality and reducing the cost of healthcare systems with a focus on how national policies, such as value-based payments and health information technology, impact patient outcomes. He has worked to understand racial disparities in healthcare and what can be done to narrow this unjust gap.

Of course, none of us knew at the time of his announcement how the COVID-19 pandemic would unfold and what extraordinary challenges would follow. In the ensuing months, Dr. Jha has emerged as a policy leader, publicly evaluating how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color and helping us to understand why other countries have fared so much better than the U.S. He was among the first U.S. public health experts to call for a national quarantine. Deservedly, he has become a trusted voice of reason.

“This is also a pivotal moment for public health. We need the best researchers and practitioners to overcome the challenges to our pandemic response.”

    —Dr. Ashish K. Jha

In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, Dr. Jha said seeing the crisis unfold made him even more excited about the opportunity to lead Brown’s School of Public Health. He noted that what attracted him to Brown was the University’s position as a leader across not just one or two subject areas, but a diverse set of disciplines that are relevant to understanding our greatest challenges.

“This isn’t just a historic crisis, it is also a pivotal moment for public health, and we need the best public health researchers and practitioners to work with economists, political scientists, and other experts to study and overcome the challenges to our pandemic response that weren’t anticipated,” Dr. Jha said.

What Dr. Jha describes is, of course, integral to Brown’s mission of exceptional interdisciplinary research, teaching and service. The School of Public Health, born in and built for the health challenges of the 21st century, is well-positioned to continue to build national influence in impacting urgent health challenges and improving equity in healthcare through its research and teaching. The school’s commitment to these goals is driven by a mindfulness of the critical challenges we face as a society, the potential to make impactful change, and a responsibility to address known disparities.

Initially a department of Brown’s medical school, the school launched in 2013 and became fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health in 2016. With more than 250 faculty and 400 undergraduate and graduate students, the school is home to 13 nationally renowned research centers and receives more than $60 million in external research funding annually.

As dean, Dr. Jha will work to advance overall academic excellence and provide strategic direction for the school. He will develop and execute strategies to continue to expand sponsored research funding and elevate the school’s profile locally and globally.

Issues of medicine and public health, racial injustice, and economic mobility deservedly have a strong grip on the public consciousness today. We couldn’t be more fortunate to have an accomplished scholar, academic leader, and global health advocate representing Brown and leading the School of Public Health into the future.

Read the November–December 2020 President's Spread on "Confronting Legacies of Racism and Injustice" here (PDF)

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Related Issue
November–December 2020