March 24, 2020

by  

Vanderbilt University Division of Communications

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente has established a new Public Health Advisory Task Force to serve as a resource for the university during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the university continues to use the latest  public health information from the CDC, state and local health departments and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, this new task force will provide new, further support for protecting the safety, health and well-being of all individuals in the Vanderbilt community.

“In this time of unprecedented circumstances for our university, the nation and the world, we are fortunate to have public health and infectious disease experts on our faculty. I will look to the new Public Health Advisory Task Force for input on our continued efforts in monitoring, anticipating, preparing and responding to the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation,” Wente said. “I am grateful for the expertise provided by the individuals on the task force and appreciate their dedication and support for the university during this time.”

The collective expertise of the task force will help in developing recommendations on further protocols and best practices for the university in the COVID-19 environment, including advising on reversal triggers for when to reopen research labs, return to campus offices, restart in-person classes and more.

The committee, chaired by Linda Norman, dean of the School of Nursing and Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing, also will seek to partner with other higher education institutions to leverage trans-university expertise.

“Working with my fellow members of the task force, we plan to look closely at how the national and local COVID-19 situation is changing and to support the university in ensuring that every member of the Vanderbilt community is able to live, work and learn in a safe and healthy environment,” Norman said. “Vanderbilt has long been a leader in the medical sphere, and our committee members come from a broad range of backgrounds and fields. I look forward to beginning our work to support faculty, staff, students, postdoctoral scholars and extended community members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Public Health Advisory Task Force members are:

  • Linda Norman, chair, School of Nursing dean and Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing
  • Manuel Ascano, assistant professor of biochemistry and assistant professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology
  • Seth Bordenstein, Centennial Endowed Professor of Biological Sciences, professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology, associate director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation, and director of the Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative
  • Melinda Buntin, Mike Curb Professor of Health Policy and chair of the Department of Health Policy
  • Laurie Connors, associate professor of nursing
  • Marie R. Griffin, professor of health policy, professor of medicine and director of the Master of Public Health program
  • Derek Griffith, professor of medicine, health and society and founding director of the Center for Research on Men’s Health
  • Pamela Jones, associate professor of nursing and senior associate dean for clinical and community partnerships
  • Allen Kaiser, professor of medicine and associate chief of clinical staff, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Health Policy and professor of medicine
  • John Wikswo, Gordon A. Cain University Professor, A.B. Learned Professor of Living State Physics, professor of biomedical engineering, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics, professor of physics, and founding director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education
  • Gregory J. Wilson, associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases and medical director of Pediatric Infection Prevention

The task force’s ex officio members are:

  • Carol Etherington, associate professor of nursing, emerita, and Metro Board of Health member
  • Alex Jahangir, professor of orthopaedic surgery, director of orthopaedic trauma and executive medical director of the Vanderbilt Center for Trauma, Burn and Emergency Surgery; and chair of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force and of the Metro Board of Health

To stay informed on updates and announcements from the university related to COVID-19, please visit vu.edu/coronavirus.