President Joe Biden has appointed Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, to serve as the next White House coronavirus response coordinator amid the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Jha will succeed Jeffrey Zients and will lead the response of the entire U.S. government to the COVID pandemic, while also advancing the nation’s global health priorities and policies under Biden.

To assume the critical role in the nation’s pandemic response of COVID and advise Biden, Jha will take a short-term leave from the School of Public Health for the temporary special assignment. The appointment begins April 5, 2022.

“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 says in a statement. “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.”

Brown University President Christina H. Paxson said Jha’s appointment brings a top scholar and highly regarded Brown academic leader to White House service, offering a prominent illustration of the ways in which the University can make a positive impact on domestic and global issues of significant consequence.

“Ashish will bring to President Biden and our nation what he has brought — and will bring back — to Brown: an unrivaled commitment to improving public health equitably, effectively, creatively, with heart and a commitment to science,” Paxson says. “The work he has begun at the School of Public Health will continue, with the strong team he has recruited and the full support of the University. And it will advance even further with the benefit of this experience in national and global leadership.”

In addition to his role as dean and public health scholar, Jha is a practicing physician with deep expertise in infectious diseases. He was appointed to lead the School of Public Health in February 2020 and he began as dean in September 2020. 

In 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 President Biden’s national COVID-19 preparedness plan

“Throughout this pandemic, we have worked at Brown to improve public understanding and information, and inform policy at every level of government here and around the globe,” Jha says. “I am honored to accept President Biden’s invitation to serve and continue that work. I do so confident that the work of the Brown School of Public Health will advance around critical issues including pandemic preparedness and key initiatives we have launched and are growing, to improve understanding and policy in key public health issues, and train the next generation of public health leaders.”