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Project Information

Project Information

Towards a Post-Pandemic World: Lessons from COVID-19 for Now and the Future

Project Scope:

A planning committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will organize a workshop series to examine broadly the response to COVID-19 in the US and abroad. These virtual events (one-day workshop in March 2021 and four-day workshop in September 2021) will host retrospective and prospective discussions on the broad impacts of the rapidly-evolving pandemic on human health and society. Events will explore new understandings, challenges, and emerging data for leaders in governments, public health systems, the private sector, and communities to consider in the ongoing pandemic responses with a view towards enhancing resilience and preparedness for future outbreaks.

Specifically, the workshop will feature invited presentations, panel discussions and breakout rooms on the following topics:

  • The multifactorial nature of COVID-19 as a syndemic, including its amplification of existing health threats and the socioeconomic risk factors that impact disease  outcomes in different communities 
  • Anticipated long-term impacts of the pandemic on health, both direct (physiological) and indirect (societal), at the individual and the population level
  • The impacts of COVID-19 on human health equity, taking into consideration the two-way relationship between health outcomes and structural or social determinants of health. 
  • Incorporating best practices and lessons learned from around the world to examine the role of social sciences on building a nuanced, transdisciplinary approach that strives to ensure equity in continued COVID-19 recovery efforts and mitigation of future emergent diseases.
  • Takeaways from the COVID-19 experience for leaders in government, communities, and the private sector on actionable and sustainable ways to collaborate, manage risk, build trust, and communicate effectively for public health, particularly in the context of uncertainty during public health emergencies 
  • The impact of dis- and misinformation and how it can be managed to maintain public trust and optimize adherence to health behavioral guidance in a time of crisis
  • Ensuring lessons (re-)learned from COVID-19 are captured effectively in health systems that assure a more proactive approach pandemic preparedness and response.
Speakers and discussants will contribute perspectives from government, academia, private and nonprofit sectors. The global distribution of contributors to this workshop will reflect the global nature of the topic being addressed. The planning committee will organize the workshop, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. A proceedings of the presentations and discussions will be prepared by a designated rapporteur in accordance with institutional guidelines.

Status: Current

PIN: HMD-BGH-20-08

RSO: Liao, Julie


Board on Global Health


Behavioral and Social Sciences
Biology and Life Sciences
Health and Medicine
Policy for Science and Technology

Parent Project(s): N/A

Child Project(s): N/A

Geographic Focus:

Committee Membership

Elizabeth D. Hermsen - (Co-Chair)
Elizabeth D. Hermsen, Pharm.D., M.B.A., BCPS-AQ(ID), FIDP, FIDSA (Co-Chair) is the Head of Global Antimicrobial Stewardship and Health Equity in Infectious Diseases at Merck & Co., Inc. and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine, in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Hermsen received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center followed by a pharmacy practice residency at The Nebraska Medical Center, a fellowship in Infectious Diseases Research at the University of Minnesota, College of Pharmacy, and a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. Following her fellowship, Dr. Hermsen developed and co-directed the antimicrobial stewardship program at The Nebraska Medical Center and subsequently joined Cubist, where she created and led the Antimicrobial Stewardship Outreach Group. Now, in her role at Merck, she is responsible for creating and executing a strategy to advance antimicrobial stewardship through education, implementation, research, and advocacy, with a global scope, across human, animal, and environmental health. Dr. Hermsen’s role also focuses on health equity in infectious diseases, working across antimicrobials, virology, and vaccines.

Dr. Hermsen actively contributed to the advancement of the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP) Antimicrobial Stewardship Certificate Program during her term as SIDP President and continues to participate as a lecturer in the program. Dr. Hermsen served as a contributing member of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Knowledge & Skills Collaborative, coordinated by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America; an expert panel on Hospital-based Antimicrobial Utilization Surveillance via the National Healthcare Safety Network, coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; an expert panel coordinated by the National Quality Forum and CDC to develop the practical tool entitled, Antibiotic Stewardship in Acute Care: A Practical Playbook; and co-chaired the Antimicrobial Stewardship Work Package (1A) for the Innovative Medicines Institute (IMI) Driving Reinvestment in Research & Development and Responsible Antibiotic Use (DRIVE-AB) initiative. Dr. Hermsen was selected to serve on the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Leadership Development Committee, and she served as the inaugural Chair of the newly-created SIDP Strategic Planning Committee.

Dr. Hermsen is a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist with added qualifications in Infectious Diseases and is a Fellow of SIDP and IDSA. She has contributed to the profession with numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and by serving as a reviewer for several professional journals. Dr. Hermsen has also given over 100 invited presentations at state, regional, national, and international meetings, and she recently gave a TED talk regarding antimicrobial stewardship and resistance at TEDx Omaha 2019.

Rafael Obregon - (Co-Chair)
Rafael Obregon, Ph.D., M.A. (Co-Chair) provides technical leadership and guidance on the development of standards, guidelines, and quality assurance for the application of communication for development principles and strategies across programmatic areas of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), including emergency response and humanitarian action. In this capacity, Dr. Obregon has engaged in several responses to public health emergencies and disease outbreaks, including the 2014 – 2015 West Africa Ebola Outbreak. In 2016 Dr. Obregon also served as a member of the Advisory Committee to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations. Prior to joining UNICEF, he has served as regional advisor for health communication within the Area of Family and Community Health and Child and Adolescent Health Unit at the Pan American Health Organization. Dr Obregon has also been a technical advisor, researcher, and resource/focal person for international/national cooperation agencies and government and nongovernmental organizations, particularly in health and development initiatives. His duties have focused on formative research, project design and evaluation, and capacity strengthening. Dr. Obregon has also been associate professor and guest faculty member at a number of universities, including Ohio University, the Universidad Autónoma in Barcelona, Spain, and the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia, where he remains as an adjunct faculty. Throughout his career, he has written several books, book chapters, monographs, manuals, peer-reviewed journal articles and reports on public health communication, participatory communication, and capacity development. He is a member of several editorial boards including the Journal of Health Communication, and has been a member of several scientific committees including the World Congress on Communication and Development, convened by the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the Communication Initiative, as well as a member of the Technical Advisory Group for the Global Health Communication Partnership within the Center for Communication Programs at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Obregon earned his Ph.D. in an interdisciplinary program in mass communications, with a concentration on international health, at the College of Communications at Pennsylvania State University in 1999. He received his Master of Arts in international affairs and communication and development from Ohio University in 1994 with a minor in public health. Additionally, he obtained a diploma in education and pedagogy through the National Apprenticeship Service in Colombia in 1990.

William K. Hallman
William Hallman is professor and chair of the department of human ecology, a member of the graduate faculty of the department of nutritional sciences, and of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, as well as a Distinguished Research Fellow of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines public perceptions of controversial issues concerning food, health, technology, and the environment. Dr. Hallman is also a member of the National Academies’ Climate Communications Initiative Advisory Committee and has served as chair of the Risk Communication Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and as Director of the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers. Dr. Hallman is a graduate of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and received an M.A. and Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of South Carolina.
Chandy C. John
Chandy C. John, M.D., M.S. holds the Ryan White Endowed Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases and is director of the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health at Indiana University. Dr. John’s research focuses on malaria pathogenesis, immunology and epidemiology. Key discoveries of his collaborative research team include: 1) the first prospective studies to establish that severe malaria is associated with long-term cognitive impairment in children, 2) identification of immunologic factors that increase risk of severe malaria and cognitive impairment after severe malaria; 3) determination of geographic and immunologic factors that affect risk of malaria in areas of unstable malaria transmission; and 4) the first studies to show that hydroxyurea treatment is safe and effective for children with sickle cell anemia in malaria endemic areas. Dr. John conducts research and training programs in Kenya in collaboration with colleagues at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and in Uganda in collaboration with colleagues at Makerere University. He is the author of more than 180 peer-reviewed publications and 30 book chapters. Dr. John serves on the Thrasher Research Fund Scientific Advisory Committee, and has served on or chaired numerous NIH and national and international study sections and review boards. Dr. John’s awards include the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society Young Investigator Award (2004), and the Bailey K. Ashford Medal from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene for contributions to tropical medicine research (2011). Dr. John is an active clinician, specializing in pediatric infectious diseases, tropical medicine and travel medicine. As an educator, Dr. John was director of global health residency tracks in pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Minnesota. Dr. John served as president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 2019.
Kent E. Kester
Kent E. Kester, M.D. is currently vice president and head of Translational Science and Biomarkers at Sanofi Pasteur. During a 24-year career in the U.S. Army, he worked extensively in clinical vaccine development and led multiple research platforms at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest and most diverse biomedical research laboratory—an institution he later led as its commander/director. His final military assignment was as the associate dean for clinical research in the School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). Dr. Kester holds an undergraduate degree from Bucknell University and an M.D. from Jefferson Medical College. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Maryland and a fellowship in infectious diseases at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A malaria vaccine researcher with over 70 scientific manuscripts and book chapters, Dr. Kester has played a major role in the development of the malaria vaccine candidate known as RTS,S. Currently a member of the U.S. Government Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, he previously chaired the Steering Committee of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)-USUHS Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program, and has served as a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biologics Products Advisory Committee, the NIAID Advisory Council, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Office of Infectious Diseases Board of Scientific Counselors. Board certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases, he holds faculty appointments at USUHS and the University of Maryland; and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Rima F. Khabbaz
Rima F. Khabbaz, M.D., is the director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From 2010 to 2017, she was CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases and director of the Office of Infectious Diseases, where she helped lead the efforts of CDC’s infectious disease national centers and advance the Agency’s crosscutting infectious disease priorities including the integration of advanced molecular detection technologies into public health. During that time, she also served on an interim basis as acting director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, acting director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, and acting director of NCEZID during leadership transitions. Her previous CDC positions include director of the National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases; director, acting director, and associate director for epidemiologic science in the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID); and deputy director and associate director for science in the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases. Her first job at CDC was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer in NCID's Hospital Infections Program. She later served as a medical epidemiologist in NCID's Retrovirus Diseases Branch, where she made major contributions to defining the epidemiology of the non-HIV retroviruses, specifically human T lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) I and II, in the United States and to developing guidance for counseling HTLV–infected persons. Following the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome outbreak in the southwestern United States in 1993, she led CDC's efforts to set up national surveillance for this syndrome. She also played a key role in developing and coordinating CDC's blood safety and food safety programs related to viral diseases. She has served in leadership positions during many of CDC’s responses to outbreaks of new and/or reemerging infections, including Nipah, Ebola, West Nile virus, SARS, and monkeypox, and she led the CDC field team to the nation's capital during the public health response to the anthrax attacks of 2001. Dr. Khabbaz is a graduate of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, where she obtained both her bachelor's degree in science (biology/chemistry) and her medical doctorate degree. She trained in internal medicine and completed a fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. In addition to her CDC position, she serves as clinical adjunct professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at Emory University. Dr. Khabbaz is a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), a member of the American Epidemiological Society, and a member of the American Society for Microbiology and of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. She is a graduate of the Public Health Leadership Institute at the University of North Carolina and the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University. She served on IDSA's Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee and serves on the society's Public Health Committee. She also is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Forum on Microbial Threats.

Kumanan Rasanathan
Kumanan Rasanathan, M.B.Ch.B., M.P.H., a public health physician with 20 years of experience in health and related sectors. He is a member of the board of Health Systems Global and currently works in the areas of health systems and maternal and child health in Cambodia. He was previously chief, Implementation Research Unit and Delivery Science Unit and Senior Adviser Health for United Nations Children’s Fund in New York, working on implementation research focused on improving child service delivery, universal health coverage, district health system strengthening, health systems resilience post-Ebola, integrated community case management, the Sustainable Development Goals agenda, and multisectoral approaches to child health. Prior to this, Dr. Rasanathan worked for the World Health Organization in Geneva on primary health care and the social determinants of health, and in a number of different countries as a clinician, researcher, policy maker, program manager, and advocate. He started his public health career running Phase I and II vaccine clinical trials leading to the licensure and rollout of meningococcal B vaccine in New Zealand.
Stephen J. Thomas
Stephen J. Thomas, M.D. is a virologist and vaccinologist who currently serves as a Professor of Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology and an Infectious Diseases physician-scientist at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. He is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Institute for Global Health and Translational Science. As Director of the Institute of Global Health and Translational Science, he provides leadership to multiple initiatives in the US and abroad. Dr. Thomas earned his Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Biomedical Ethics from Brown University, his Medical Degree from the Albany Medical College, and completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Dr. Thomas is board certified in both Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine, holds a certification in Tropical Medicine and Traveler’s Health from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of American, and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Dr. Thomas has spent more than 5 years of his early career living and working in Thailand and Southeast Asia. He played a key leadership role during the West Africa Ebola outbreak, advising senior Department of Defense leadership and leading his team in planning and executing of Ebola vaccine trials. He was instrumental in developing and implementing his institution’s first in-human MERS-CoV vaccine trial and Zika vaccine. Prior to joining SUNY Upstate, Dr. Thomas spent twenty years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, serving at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, finishing his time there as the Chief Operating Officer of the Institute. As Chief of Infectious Disease at SUNY, Dr. Thomas leads the Infectious Diseases Division and is responsible for providing in- and out-patient consultation for more than 10% of New York State’s population. As Director of the Institute of Global Health and Translational Science, he leads multiple initiatives encompassing education, research, and clinical service opportunities. His current research activities include work on dengue human infection models, development of vaccines against opioid use disorders, field-based studies exploring transmission and pathogenesis of arboviral diseases in Asia and Latin America, and both early and advanced phase testing of a number of vaccines and therapeutics against tropical diseases.
Matthew Zahn
Matthew Zahn, M.D., currently serves as medical director of the Division of Epidemiology and Assessment for the Orange County Health Care Agency. Dr. Zahn received his doctorate in medicine from St. Louis University School of Medicine. From 2004 through 2011, he served as medical director for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. During that time, he also served as an assistant professor of pediatric infectious disease at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Dr. Zahn has served on multiple national public health committees, including his current service as the chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s Public Health Workgroup.


Event Type :  

Description :   

This public webinar is the second in a two-part workshop intended to examine broadly the response to COVID-19 in the U.S. and abroad. The first part, "Moving Past COVID-19," took place on March 17, 2021 and explored how analyzing COVID-19 through a syndemic approach could help contextualize health consequences and disease interactions in a population’s underlying social, environmental, and economic characteristics. 

"Toward a Post-Pandemic World" will host retrospective and prospective discussions on the broad impacts of the pandemic on human health and society. Together, the workshop sessions will highlight successes, missed opportunities, and emerging data in order to extract key understandings that leaders in governments, public health systems, the private sector, and communities can incorporate into their ongoing pandemic responses now with a view towards enhancing resilience and preparedness for future outbreaks.

Specifically, this upcoming four-day event will focus on:

  • Day 1: anticipated long-term effects of COVID-19
  • Day 2: trust, engagement, and misinformation in public health
  • Day 3: key questions on building capacity for both ongoing COVID-19 intervention and recovery as well as for future outbreaks
  • Day 4: applying lessons towards planning for future pandemics

Workshop Committee

  • Elizabeth Hermsen, Merck & Co., Inc. (co-chair)
  • Rafael Obregon, UNICEF (co-chair)
  • William Hallman, Rutgers University
  • Chandy John, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Kent Kester, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
  • Rima Khabbaz, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
  • Kumanan Rasanathan, World Health Organization
  • Stephen Thomas, State University of New York Upstate Medical University
  • Matthew Zahn, Orange County Health Care Agency


Registration for in Person Attendance :   

If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Claire Biffl
Contact Email:
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-2178

Supporting File(s)
Is it a Closed Session Event?

Publication(s) resulting from the event:


Event Type :  

Description :   

This public webinar was the first in a series intended to examine broadly the response to COVID-19 in the US and abroad. "Moving Past COVID-19" features prospective discussions on the broad impacts of the pandemic on human health and global development; successes and missed opportunities; and key considerations that can be incorporated by the government, public health systems, private sector, and communities to enhance resilience and preparedness for future outbreaks. This first, introductory session focused on the what it means to take a "syndemic" approach to the COVID-19 crisis, and what the implications might be for global recovery. 

Part Two of this workshop, "Towards a Post-Pandemic World: Lessons from COVID-19 for Now and the Future," will take place on Sep 21-24 and host discussions on the broad impacts of the pandemic on human health and society. The workshop sessions will highlight key understandings and emerging data from ongoing pandemic response efforts that can be incorporated into current health systems to enhance resilience and preparedness for future outbreaks.

Registration for in Person Attendance :   

If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Charlie Minicucci
Contact Email:
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-2157

Supporting File(s)
Is it a Closed Session Event?