Biden appoints Indian American Dr. Ashish K. Jha as new coronavirus response coordinator


US President Joe Biden has appointed an Indian American as the next White House coronavirus response coordinator.

On Thursday, March 17, Dr. Ashish K. Jha was announced as the replacement of the current coordinator Jeffrey D Zients.

Jha, who is an entrepreneur and management consultant who steered President Biden’s coronavirus response through successive pandemic waves.

Announcing Jha’s appointment, Biden said in a statement, “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,” Biden said. “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, an Indian-origin physician and researcher, is also dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. He took a short-term leave from the School of Public Health for the “temporary special assignment” the university announced. The appointment begins April 5, 2022.

“I am honored to accept President Biden’s invitation and do so confident that the School of Public Health will advance around critical issues including pandemic preparedness and key initiatives we have launched to improve understanding and policy in key public health issues, and train the next generation of public health leaders,” Jha said in a statement.

Born in Pursaulia, Bihar, in 1970, Jha moved to Canada in 1979 and then to the United States in 1983.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1992 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1997, before training in internal medicine at the University of California in San Francisco.

He completed his general medicine fellowship at Brigham & Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and received his master of public health in 2004 from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Jha was appointed to lead the School of Public Health in February 2020, weeks before COVID-19 arrived in full force in the US, and he began as dean in September 2020, the university website stated.

As an expert in infectious diseases, Jha has led groundbreaking research around Ebola and is now on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, leading national and international analysis of key issues and advising state and federal policy makers.

He is a globally recognized expert on pandemic preparedness and response as well as on health policy research and practice.

Over the past year, Jha has participated in Congressional hearings on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. Recently, he advised the White House on the President’s national COVID-19 preparedness plan.