50 Experts to Trust in a Pandemic
Whose advice should you follow to stay healthy and informed? The health and science experts on this list.
This story is part of “Six Months In,” a special weeklong Elemental series reflecting on where we’ve been, what we’ve learned, and what the future holds for the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the most challenging aspects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is that even six months in so much is still unknown and uncertain. While it can feel like the leaders tasked with navigating the pandemic are ill-equipped and unprepared (specifically in the United States), the fact remains that there are many scientists, doctors, and health leaders who are well-trained in pandemic response and have been working on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic since the beginning.
As government leaders and agencies have become increasingly politicized, untrustworthy, and silenced, people are turning to other sources online for up-to-date and science-backed information and guidance. In some cases, these sources have been sharing pandemic insights for years. In others, experts have realized the need for more evidence-based information on Covid-19 and have started sharing that with followers more regularly.
“Given the challenge with communications during this pandemic, and given that certain institutions have significant political limitations that impact the scope of their communications, such as CDC, the role of scientists and doctors to help fill that gap is immense,” Abraar Karan, MD, an internal medicine doctor at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital said earlier this year. “In that way, I feel like my relationship with social media has changed because there is a lot more weight and consequence to everything I write or tweet, and I take that very seriously.”
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Elemental created this list of 50 health and science experts to help you separate truth from misinformation and stay up to date. These experts regularly share science-backed information and insights on the Covid-19 pandemic and/or highlight the forces and structures that influence the virus’s impact. These are also people who are very active on Twitter, and you will gain Covid-19 insights from following them online. They are ranked in alphabetical order.
Amesh Adalja, MD, @AmeshAA
Senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security
There are certain medical experts who see the value in sharing insights with the public on a regular basis through social media and through interviews with traditional media. Adalja is one of those doctors. The infectious disease expert specializing in pandemic policy has long been an effective science communicator who engages with a variety of audiences on the issue of viruses and global security. Adalja is a good source to follow during the pandemic because he has a unique perspective focused on preventing infectious disease emergencies and mass casualties, and is also a good source for vetted reading material and Covid-19 news.
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Carl Bergstrom, PhD, @CT_Bergstrom
Professor of biology, University of Washington
A mathematical biologist and co-author of the new book Calling Bullshit, Bergstrom was perfectly positioned to call out the misinformation and data misinterpretation that has become a throughline of the coronavirus pandemic. An expert in mathematical modeling, Bergstrom has applied his computer simulations to everything from evolutionary medicine to the science of communication to the scientific process itself. On Twitter, Bergstrom has his finger on the pulse of the United States’ response to the pandemic — and everything it’s gotten wrong.
Nahid Bhadelia, MD, MA, @BhadeliaMD
Medical Director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center and Associate Professor at Boston University School of Medicine
Bhadelia is one of many doctors and scientists in the United States who has long been thinking about pandemic response. She realized very early on that Covid-19 could become a major pandemic, writing in The Atlantic in early February that the virus “could unfortunately result in a much greater number of cases, despite having a lower mortality rate, and may test aspects of public-health resilience in ways that Ebola didn’t.” Bhadelia is an important expert to follow for an infectious disease perspective on the latest news and U.S. policy. “We need to right this ship as soon as possible,” she recently shared, calling on more leadership from the CDC, FDA, and NIH. “Otherwise it will make navigating this pandemic even harder.”
Oni Blackstock, MD, MHS, @DrOniBee
A primary care and HIV doctor who is the founder and executive director of Health Justice and former assistant commissioner for the New York City Department of Health’s Bureau of HIV
Blackstock is a primary care and HIV physician and thought leader in the areas of HIV, LGBTQ health, and racial equity. Between 2018 and 2020, she led New York City’s response to the HIV epidemic with a focus on eliminating HIV-related health inequities and stigma. During the coronavirus pandemic, she helped develop New York City’s wonderful guide on safe sex and Covid-19, including such gems as “make it a little kinky” with barriers that prevent face-to-face contact and the timeless advice that “you are your safest sex partner.” She is the twin sister of Uché Blackstock.
Uché Blackstock, MD, @uche_blackstock
Founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity
Blackstock is an emergency medicine physician working on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic at an urgent care center in Brooklyn. She was one of the first to highlight the racial health disparities in Covid-19 testing, treatment, and outcomes. Bringing attention to these issues is second nature to Blackstock, whose consulting practice, Advancing Health Equity, advises health care organizations on how to eradicate racism, bias, and the resulting health inequities in medicine. She is the twin sister of Oni Blackstock.
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Rhea Boyd MD, MPH, @RheaBoydMD
Pediatrician, public health advocate, and scholar who writes and teaches about the impacts of racism on health and health care
The Covid-19 pandemic is amplifying the ways that racism impacts the health outcomes of people in America. Boyd, a pediatrician, has a particular focus on the effects of policing on child and public health. She tweets regularly about her work and the work of her peers that help elucidate the intersections between racism, inequity, and health, which is critical to understanding the racial disparities at play in Covid-19 outcomes. In a June perspective published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Boyd and co-authors wrote: “Police violence, racial inequities in Covid-19, and other forms of structural racism are concurrent and compounding public health crises in the United States… Postmortem evidence indicates that George Floyd tested positive for Covid-19, underscoring this reality. The choice before the health care system now is to show, not tell, that Black Lives Matter.”
Esther Choo, MD, MPH, @choo_ek
Emergency physician and professor at the Oregon Health & Science University
Anyone interested in the intersection of social justice and medicine should follow Esther Choo, MD, MPH. The emergency physician has become a prominent advocate for issues like gender equality in medicine. She is one of the driving forces behind Time’s Up Healthcare, a division of the anti-sexual harassment and discrimination organization. During the pandemic, Choo has become a resource for insights into what it’s like treating people with Covid-19 in the ER, as well as the racial disparities underlying the pandemic. “I keep thinking how in the ER when someone rolls in gasping ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ we all jump to our feet and run to assess and help them,” she shared in a May 26 Twitter thread, the day after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers. “Everything else that was paramount a minute before goes away with ‘I can’t breathe.’ An attending holding on the phone, your bladder is exploding, an angry patient wants a word. No matter. ‘I can’t breathe’ means drop it all, clear your head, go and fix it.”
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Kizzmekia Corbett, PhD, @KizzyPhD
Research fellow and team lead for coronavirus research in the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health
Corbett is the scientific lead of the coronavirus team in the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC). Corbett and the team spearheaded the early research at the NIAID VRC to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, in collaboration with biotechnology company Moderna, based on knowledge of MERS and the original SARS virus. This Covid-19 vaccine candidate was subsequently tested in animals and people and is now in a phase 3 clinical trial and is one of the leading contenders to be approved by the FDA. On Twitter, Corbett combines her deep knowledge of viruses, immunology, and vaccines with advocacy and support for other Black scientists and academics.
Muge Cevik, MD, @mugecevik
Infectious diseases researcher and science communicator and associate editor for Clinical Microbiology and Infection
Cevik is a clinician and expert in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St. Andrews School of Medicine in Scotland. She’s a great expert to follow if you want to dig deeper into Covid-19 science. During the pandemic, alongside working on the front lines of the response, Cevik was a scientific advisor to the Chief Medical Officer of Scotland. Cevik made use of Twitter to keep the public up-to-date with coronavirus-related research. In one of her most popular threads, Cevik describes in great detail the risk of infection after sustained close contact, such as within households and during family gatherings.
Cedric Dark, MD, MPH, @RealCedricDark
Assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine
Dark, who has been called the “The Obi-Wan Kenobi of health policy and advocacy,” is an emergency medicine physician in Texas on the front lines of treating people with Covid-19. He also spends much of his time educating followers on the need for diversity in health care and the health disparities of the pandemic, including the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 among Black people. “I’m on Earth for one reason,” he tweeted in June. “To save lives and relieve suffering. What is your purpose?”
Natalie Dean, PhD, @nataliexdean
Assistant professor of biostatistics, University of Florida
Dean is a biostatistician specializing in infectious disease epidemiology. Her research focuses on designing clinical trials to evaluate vaccine efficacy, with a focus on emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola, Zika, and Covid-19. She’s a leading voice in how to conduct — and communicate about — coronavirus vaccine trials to ensure safety and success. In her “Think Like an Epidemiologist” threads, Dean breaks down the latest coronavirus questions and controversies, and helps people view the data with a more critical eye. For example, she gave a step-by-step explanation of why even though the U.S. is performing more tests than other countries, it’s still not enough to capture the full scope of the outbreak because of population size and positivity rates.
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Carlos del Rio, MD, @CarlosdelRio7
Distinguished professor of medicine and executive associate dean for Emory at Grady, Emory University School of Medicine.
Del Rio, an infectious disease expert and leader, was one of the first to stress the importance of widespread Covid-19 testing in a JAMA Viewpoint paper published late February 2020, calling for the “implementation of rapid point-of-care diagnostic testing, effective antiviral therapies, and eventually, a safe and immunogenic vaccine.” Del Rio is also passionate about diversity in science, and particularly in Covid-19 vaccine trials. In one of his tweets, he says “If you don’t work to make diversity relevant you will become irrelevant.”
Sharmila Dissanaike, MD, @DissanaikeMD
Chair of surgery at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Not every health expert on social media talking about Covid-19 is an epidemiologist or infectious disease doctor. Dissanaike focuses on questions around the coronavirus and how it impacts surgeons and hospitals. In the fight against the global pandemic, she stresses the importance of narrowly focused specialists working together with broad-based generalists and drawing on new ideas about how to tackle the pandemic from different disciplines.
Utibe R. Essien, MD, MPH, @UREssien
Assistant professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed long-standing health disparities that are causing more deaths from the virus among people of color. Essien, who is also a health disparities researcher in the VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, is a critical voice on the importance of anti-racism in medicine. As an expert who studies racial and ethnic disparities in health care, he’s an important figure to follow for understanding the disproportionate toll of Covid-19 on communities of color in the United States. “We live in two Americas: one where access, wealth, and power act as a shield to communicable diseases like Covid-19, and another in which lack of these resources serves as a vector for infection, particularly in communities of color,” he wrote in a May article for Medscape.
Jeremy Faust, MD, MS, @jeremyfaust
Emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Emergency Division of Health Policy and Public Health, and instructor at Harvard Medical School
Faust is the editor-in-chief of Brief-19, a daily roundup of Covid-19 research and policy on Twitter and the web. His motto: “Science always wins. We should stick with it.” Faust isn’t afraid to confront people who are spreading dangerous lies about the pandemic. On Twitter, he recently invited Stella Immanuel, a doctor who asserted that face masks aren’t necessary to stop transmission, to a public debate. “Sure, the science is already settled. But dissecting and exposing the intellectual detritus would be… fun,” he tweeted.
Tsion Firew, MD, MPH, @DrTsion
Emergency physician and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University
Firew has expertise in emergency health care and health policy. She is an emergency physician at Columbia University in New York, and an advisor to the Ministry of Health for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Her social media posts often revolve around imagining a post-Covid-19 America with a focus on health care professional’s physical and mental health. In one of her tweets, she shares how she went through “extensive hair loss and skin breakout at the height of the pandemic coupled with night terrors, all to be shared in the future.”
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Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, @DrTomFrieden
President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Frieden has experience leading the CDC — the nation’s public health institution — through pandemics, like Ebola and Zika outbreaks. His take on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been especially enlightening given that the organization is now being criticized for making unscientific changes to recommendations due to political pressure. “We can’t let the CDC and FDA become the next casualties of Covid. Science must lead our decisions, not politics,” Frieden recently shared. Frieden is a good follow because he often offers his thoughts on recent news as well as his opinions on what strategies that the U.S. should implement to quell the virus — like more widespread mask-wearing.
Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, @sandrogalea
Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health
Galea, an epidemiologist and public health leader, has long shared insights into the ways that the U.S. health care system should change to become more equitable and considerate of overall well-being. For decades, Galea has studied the impact of crises on mental health, including disasters like Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and prior outbreaks — including a study on the psychological effects of the quarantine used to control the 2003 SARS outbreak. During the Covid-19 crisis, he’s continuing to share both insights and research on the mental health toll of the pandemic. “Covid-19 is really two pandemics,” he shared in an April thread on the mental health risks of the virus. “One is how the virus threatens physical health. The other is the threat to mental health. We have not much discussed the latter, but we should. The mental health burden of this pandemic is real and will likely be with us for years to come.”
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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, @DrTedros
Director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health, and plays a critical role in most pandemics. Countries without a robust health system often rely on the agency for emergency care and assistance in controlling infectious diseases. To understand the coronavirus, what is needed to respond to a pandemic on a global scale, and the ins and outs of the WHO’s response, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is a worthwhile follow as the head of the organization and a very active tweeter.
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Cleavon Gilman, MD, @Cleavon_MD
Emergency medicine physician
Gilman, an emergency medicine doctor and Iraq war veteran who has been working on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York and Arizona, has an acute understanding of the toll of the disease. In his spare time, Gilman maintains a blog and site that tracks the people who have died from the disease around the U.S. He also frequently tweets about pandemic misinformation, ways to mitigate spread of Covid-19, and the issue of school reopenings. “Schools are not safe,” he recently shared. “I don’t care what you hear. Schools are not safe for kids, teens, or college students. This virus thrives indoors and we’ve seen how contagious it [is]. EVERY school that opens has an outbreak. Distance learning is not ideal, but it’s the safest!”
Gregg Gonsalves, PhD, @gregggonsalves
Global health activist and assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health
After more than 30 years of working on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues, the co-director of the Global Health Justice Partnership and assistant professor of epidemiology at Yale speaks truth to power. On Twitter, Gonsalves likes to call out “some seriously deranged bullshit.” In one of his tweets, Gonsalves describes the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and as an act of massive state-sponsored violence against the American people.
Scott Gottlieb, MD, @ScottGottliebMD
Resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Gottlieb’s time at the FDA was characterized in part by the strong stance he took on regulating the way vaping products targeted young people. Since he resigned from the position, he’s become a prolific expert on Twitter for the latest news and findings on another public health problem: Covid-19, but especially for issues at the intersection of health and industry (think vaccines, diagnostics, and antibody testing). He shares long threads about new study findings, as well as warnings that the window is closing to substantially improve the U.S. ability to manufacture drugs and tests at scale to have an impact until a vaccine becomes available.
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Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA, @celinegounder
Internist, infectious disease specialist, epidemiologist, and medical journalist
Gounder, who volunteered as an Ebola aid worker in Guinea in 2015, served as part of the executive committee of the New York City Covid-19 Rapid Response Coalition, and is currently the host and producer of the EPIDEMIC podcast and a medical analyst for CNN. On Twitter, Gounder often boils down public health messages for everyone to understand: “What tools do we have vs COVID now? MASKS! 6 ft apart (esp indoors). TEST TEST TEST. Isolate the infectious (& why we need to test quickly & at massive scale) from the uninfected/susceptible. MASKS! TEST! MASKS! TEST! MASKS! TEST!”
Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, @PeterHotez
Professor and dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development
If you’re looking for science-backed information on the Covid-19 vaccine, Hotez is a must-follow. The infectious disease expert is a go-to voice for debunking vaccine misconceptions and science misinformation, and has spent much of his career studying neglected tropical disease and urging pandemic preparation. He’s prolific on Twitter and is a trusted source for understanding the ins and outs of the ongoing Covid-19 vaccine research and approval process. His recent thread about his concerns of too-early approval of a Covid-19 vaccine provides a lot of helpful information into why rushing the technology is dangerous. (He also has a great collection of bow ties.)
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Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, @VirusesImmunity
Professor of immunobiology and molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, Yale University School of Medicine
Iwasaki is an expert in immunology, researching the body’s immune defense against viruses at mucosal surfaces, such as the nose or genitals. She also works on how innate and adaptive immunity work together to protect against future infections. Her lab is now working on the novel coronavirus, and they discovered that men may have a weaker immune response to Covid-19 than women do, which could explain why they are more likely to die from the disease. On Twitter, Iwasaki provides clear, helpful breakdowns of the latest coronavirus research, as well as fundamentals of the immune system, like her “Immunology 101 for Non-Immunologists” video.
Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH, @ashishkjha
Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health
Jha is a global expert on pandemic preparedness and response as well as health policy research. On Twitter, he describes himself as an “advocate for the notion that an ounce of data is worth a thousand pounds of opinion.” In one of his tweets, the public health expert, practicing internist, and passionate fighter against misinformation says that testing teachers and kids to return to school isn’t utopia, adding that “That’s what Whitehouse staff and major league sports get now.”
Rebekah Jones, GISP, @GeoRebekah
Founder of Florida COVID Action and co-founder of The COVID Monitor
In the beginning of the pandemic, Jones, the then-manager of Geospatial Sciences at the Florida Department of Health, designed and oversaw the state’s Covid-19 data and surveillance dashboard. She became a national story in May when she revealed that she was fired after refusing to manipulate the case numbers, which were being used to determine if the state could reopen. (The state disputes what happened.) Since her ouster, Jones has gone on to launch her own dashboard for Florida coronavirus tracking, as well as a dashboard to track Covid-19 in U.S. schools that she built because “we’ve had no leadership at the federal level.” Follow Jones for accurate Covid-19 data, especially as the school year continues.
Abraar Karan, MD, MPH, DTM&H, @AbraarKaran
Internal medicine and global health doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Karan, who has treated many people with Covid-19 in the emergency room and works on the Covid-19 response for the state of Massachusetts, frequently shares Twitter threads about issues ranging from testing backlogs to mask-wearing. He doesn’t hold back. “For the amount of resources we have, we have had *the worst* epidemic response in the entire world. That is literally insane,” he shared in a thread on July 31. “We have some of the world’s best scientists; epidemiologists; doctors; nurses etc — yet have a system that is so dysfunctional it doesn’t even matter.” He also frequently shares ideas from his peers on ways to improve the trajectory of the pandemic in the U.S.
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Dara Kass, MD, @darakass
Emergency medicine physician, associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, and Yahoo News Medical Contributor
Kass is the kind of expert you want to follow if you need to get fired up. She’s a doctor and political activist who has long been calling out inequities in medicine both for doctors and for patients, including as a Time’s Up Healthcare leader pushing for safe and fair treatment of women in the medical field. Kass — who tested positive for Covid-19 in March after treating people with the disease — frequently offers helpful insights on the important intersections of health and politics, and is often debunking misinformation and poor Covid-19 choices made by U.S. leaders. In response to recent news that the Trump administration may try to push a vaccine out before the election (skipping critical study steps) she shared, “Physicians and other healthcare leaders have cleared our calendars for the next 60 days in anticipation of this. Please, use us. We know the CDC and federal government don’t have credibility. We will fill that gap to discuss the science and lies.”
Florian Krammer, PhD, @florian_krammer
Professor of vaccinology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Krammer is researching the immune system’s antibody response to the novel coronavirus. His lab screened 50,000 New Yorkers and found that people infected with SARS-CoV-2 developed protective antibodies to the virus that remained stable for at least three months, even if they had only a mild infection. On Twitter, Krammer regularly promotes the work of other scientists studying Covid-19, tweeting out new exciting papers about the virus and the body’s immune response.
Krutika Kuppalli, MD, @KrutikaKuppalli
Assistant professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases, Medical University of South Carolina
Kuppalli is an infectious disease physician specializing in global health, emerging diseases, and pandemic preparedness. She is specifically interested in strengthening health systems and policy in places with limited resources. In addition to her new position at the Medical University of South Carolina, she is an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security and the vice-chair of the Global Health Committee for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. She has worked on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, cared for patients with HIV/AIDS, advised cities on their Covid-19 response, and is an expert witness for the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. On Twitter, Kuppalli offers smart critiques of the pandemic response by everyone from U.S. universities to foreign countries. Most recently, she helped to draft a set of guidelines for Americans to vote safely in the upcoming election.
Benhur Lee, MD, @VirusWhisperer
Professor of microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
As his Twitter handle, @VirusWhisperer, suggests, Lee is a virus guy. His lab studies how new, highly infectious RNA viruses can infect human “host” cells, co-opting their basic machinery to replicate and spread. In doing so, Lee hopes to identify new targets for antiviral drugs that can disrupt the virus's life cycle. On Twitter, he provides detailed breakdowns of the latest SARS-CoV-2 research (including his own), like this deep dive on best practices to assess how well convalescent plasma works against the virus.
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Marc Lipsitch, DPhil, @mlipsitch
Professor of epidemiology, Harvard University
Lipsitch is an epidemiologist specializing in infectious diseases. His research focuses on the transmission, evolution, and control of bacteria and viruses, emphasizing the study of immunity, vaccines, and antibiotics. These issues are critical as the U.S. stumbles toward herd immunity to Covid-19, battling a second wave of infections while awaiting a vaccine. In February, Lipsitch made the dire — and still potentially prescient — prediction that between 40% and 70% of Americans would eventually become infected with the novel coronavirus. Since then, he has written opinion pieces for STAT News and the New York Times and provided expert commentary in numerous articles about how the pandemic is playing out, how to slow the spread of the virus, and how things might eventually end.
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Ian Mackay, PhD, @MackayIM
Virologist at University of Queensland, Australia
As a virologist, Mackay specializes in detecting and understanding viruses, how they work, and the diseases they cause — like the SARS-CoV-2 virus and Covid-19, rhinoviruses, influenza viruses, and emerging viruses. He’s a highly effective science communicator who accurately describes himself as a “reasonable, occasionally grumpy, voice on viruses,” and is a great expert to follow for understanding the science behind Covid-19.
Syra Madad, DHSc, @syramadad
Senior director, Special Pathogens Program at New York City Health + Hospitals and principal investigator, Institute for Diseases and Disaster Management at NYC Health + Hospitals
Madad is part of the executive leadership team overseeing New York City’s response to Covid-19 and was also featured in the Netflix documentary series Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak. Madad, who’s part of the Fortune 40 Under 40 in health, has worked through multiple epidemics and pandemics over the years from Ebola to Zika to measles. In one of her more popular tweets, she says that she’s “never witnessed this amount of stupidity that has plagued this pandemic from the get-go by electeds.”
Vineet Menachery, PhD, @TheMenacheryLab
Assistant professor in the department of microbiology & immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch
As the leader of one of the few labs in the country studying coronaviruses before the start of the pandemic, Menachery had a head start on figuring out how the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, worked. His research centers on how the virus infects “host” cells, including the factors, such as age and genetics, that make people — and their cells — more susceptible to the virus and less able to fight it off. On Twitter, Menachery posts about new research on the virus from his lab and others, like his latest paper on how a “host” protein called furin is key to the virus’s ability to infect and replicate inside cells.
Michael Mina, MD, PhD, @michaelmina_lab
Assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and the department of immunology and infectious diseases, Harvard University and associate medical director of molecular virology diagnostics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Mina is a pandemic triple threat with expertise in epidemiology, immunology, and clinical pathology, specifically molecular virology diagnostics. His research uses mathematical and epidemiological models, combined with laboratory experiments, to understand the immune response to infectious diseases and vaccines at both the population and individual level. He also studies the interplay between virus kinetics and pathogen spread, and how different interventions — like testing and vaccines — can be effectively used to curb epidemics. During the coronavirus pandemic, Mina has taken on the mantle of advocating for a cheap, rapid saliva test that could be used by the entire population, every day, at home. Mina thinks that such a test — even if it was less precise than the PCR nasal swabs — would be a game-changer and allow the economy to reopen safely. Thanks to his persistence, the cause has received significant media attention, and the FDA recently approved a rapid saliva test that is one step closer to Mina’s vision.
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Eleanor Murray, ScD, MPH, MS, @EpiEllie
Assistant professor of epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health
Murray is an epidemiologist who studies how to do epidemiology better. She does so by using statistics to evaluate how research and clinical trials could have been better executed to obtain higher quality data. Since the pandemic hit, Murray has taken her critical thinking, sense of humor, and artistic ability to Twitter to help educate people about the scientific research process and coronavirus best practices using gif-filled threads and comics she sketches. She also helped launch the Epidemiology Covid-19 Response Corps at Boston University to understand the spread of the virus and how harm reduction tactics — from wearing a mask to fighting disinformation — can help.
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Jennifer Nuzzo, DrPH, @JenniferNuzzo
Associate professor in the department of environmental health and engineering and the department of epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
An epidemiologist by training, Nuzzo directs the Outbreak Observatory at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Her work focuses on ways to improve disease outbreak preparedness, detection, and response by looking at global health systems, biosurveillance, and infectious disease diagnostics. She is one of the masterminds behind the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 Dashboard, one of the most essential sites of the pandemic that has tracked SARS-CoV-2 cases globally since January. Nuzzo is particularly vocal about testing, which she says is essential for getting the pandemic under control and is something the U.S. is still not doing enough of.
Saskia Popescu, PhD, MPH, @SaskiaPopescu
Assistant professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and an adjunct professor in the University of Arizona College of Public Health Department of Epidemiology and Biostats
Popescu is an epidemiologist and hospital infection preventionist in Arizona who has spent her career researching pandemic preparedness and how that facilitates global health security efforts. She’s currently helping to train the next generation of pandemic professionals as part of George Mason University’s biodefense program. Popescu has been working on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic in her state, which is one of the country’s hot spots. Popescu frequently shares her views on the best practices for pandemic response, as well as the insights of her colleagues in health and medicine.
Megan Ranney, MD, MPH, @meganranney
Emergency physician and director of Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health
Ranney is a Brown University emergency physician on the front lines of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. In May, she testified before Congress and urged lawmakers to ramp up the manufacturing and distribution of personal protective equipment for essential workers and health care professionals. She also co-founded GetUsPPE.org, a nonprofit working to get donated PPE to those who need it most. One of her most popular threads on Twitter is a “shortlist of things we do and don’t yet know about #COVID19.”
Angela Rasmussen, PhD, @angie_rasmussen
Associate research scientist, Center of Infection and Immunity at the Columbia University School of Public Health
Rasmussen is a virologist researching the interaction between viruses and human cells. She gives frequent interviews on the fundamentals of vaccines, antiviral treatments, and the body’s immune response to the coronavirus, but her specialty is fiery take-downs of shoddy science, bad journalism, and conspiracy theories about hydroxychloroquine, Chinese cover-ups, and low mortality rates.
The Best Masks for Every Situation, According to Health Experts
What are epidemiologists, virologists, and doctors putting on their (and their families’) faces in day-to-day life?
Caitlin Rivers, PhD, MPH, @cmyeaton
Assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Rivers, an epidemiologist, is an expert on how to prevent and prepare for outbreaks. Her research focuses on how infectious disease modeling can help support public health decision-making. Rivers is a great follow for understanding whether current Covid-19 strategies for testing, contact tracing, and more are working or not. She’s also an advocate for public health institutions to build and maintain the public’s trust. “We will still need public health on the other side of this pandemic,” she shares. “Limping through this tragedy at any cost cannot be the goal. Erosion of our public health systems, experts and confidence will have echoes far beyond the current crisis.”
Andy Slavitt, @ASlavitt
Former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and host of In The Bubble, a popular podcast about the pandemic
Slavitt ran the federal agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid from 2015–2017 under former president Barack Obama, and in doing so became one of the most well-connected figures in medicine and health policy. He spends his days on the phone with scientists, health care providers, and politicians, and in the evening Slavitt distills the day’s learnings into a Twitter thread and Medium post update. He’s become a go-to account for the daily inside scoop on where the U.S. is progressing and where it’s failing. It’s also a good source of a dose of humanity — including his viral thread inviting people to share a photo and short caption that best summarizes their life in the pandemic. It will make you laugh and cry.
What Will Happen In the Next Two Months
Coronavirus cases are dropping, but be prepared for what’s coming
Tara C. Smith, PhD, @aetiology
An infectious disease epidemiologist at Kent State University College of Public Health
Smith’s research focuses on zoonotic infections, which are diseases that spill over from animals to humans (Covid-19, for example, is thought to have come from bats). She was the first scientist to identify strains of resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the United States from livestock. She even urged people to avoid cruise ships due to disease spread long before the pandemic started. Smith frequently shares her thoughts on recent Covid-19 news and the research work of her colleagues, as well as insights from her own life during the pandemic, including the first time someone she knew got a severe case of Covid-19.
Craig Spencer, MD, @Craig_A_Spencer
Director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center
During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, Craig Spencer, MD, became the first person in New York City — and one of only a handful Americans — to become infected with the disease. He contracted the deadly virus while he was volunteering in Guinea, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Six years later, Spencer became one of the leading physicians treating people with Covid-19 in New York City. On a regular basis, Spencer shared the experiences inside emergency rooms, and he continues to plead for the United States to improve its response to the virus. In one especially poignant and viral Twitter thread, Spencer shared what his daily life is like treating people with the virus. “You might hear people saying it isn’t real. It is,” he shared. “You might hear people saying it isn’t bad. It is. You might hear people saying it can’t take you down. It can. I survived Ebola. I fear #COVID-19. Do your part. Stay home. Stay safe. And every day I’ll come to work for you.”
What Life Is Like in the ER: Then and Now
Lessons from the Covid-19 frontlines through the eyes of Dr. Craig Spencer
Devi Sridhar, PhD, @devisridhar
Chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh
Sridhar is the chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh and frequently writes for The Guardian. On Twitter, Sridhar likes to remind us that while people are frustrated and blame is being put on restrictions and public health measures, it’s important to not forget that the true culprit is the virus. Sridhar is also vocal about potential long term consequences and warns that the virus could become “our generation’s polio.”
Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, @chngin_the_wrld
Associate dean of global health sciences, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and author of The Perfect Predator
As an epidemiologist focused on infectious diseases, Strathdee is a good source for science-backed information on how to navigate infectious disease pandemics and how U.S. policy for virus mitigation could be improved. Every day Strathdee shares what she calls a shout-out to Women in STEM, and shares a recently published study led by a woman scientist. While Strathdee kept up the tradition over the last three years, and well before the pandemic, today much of the research she features is Covid-19-related, making Strathdee a good source for understanding the scientific contributions women are making to the understanding of Covid-19.
Eric Topol, MD, MPH, @EricTopol
Founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research Institute
If you’re interested in a science-backed view of coronavirus research, Topol is your man. The physician and author is known for his impressive ability to seemingly read every major science story and study and his careful sharing of published research, including annotated screenshots of especially notable findings. Check out his thread on a recent study about the lack of protection from face shields and N95 masks with valves. Topol has also become a loud advocate for unbiased research and leadership, recently calling out the head of the FDA for questionable decision-making over the approval of convalescent plasma for treatment of Covid-19.
Robert Wachter, MD, @Bob_Wachter
Chair of the department of medicine, University of California, San Francisco
In 1996, Wachter coined the phrase “hospitalist,” meaning a physician who specializes in the care of hospitalized patients, and over the last 25 years, he has dedicated his career to patient safety and health care quality. It’s no surprise, then, that when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Wachter became a go-to source for how to prepare hospitals for the pending crisis. However, Wachter also took it upon himself to share his knowledge with the public, publishing lengthy Twitter threads on the steps UCSF hospitals were taking, as well as publicizing the university’s weekly Grand Rounds — expert presentations for physicians on new research and insights into Covid-19 and how to treat it. In an article about his tweeting, Wachter said, “I had a sense that people — both laypeople and medical professionals — were hungry for information, and that without it the vacuum would be filled with rumor, fiction, and existential dread.”
There’s No Debate: Masks Save Lives
The UCSF Chair of Medicine says there’s no debate: Masks are a simple and effective strategy to save lives