Our Person of the Week series is designed to inspire & encourage students to pursue a career in the myriad sectors within global public health. Public health is far reaching and incredibly expansive, providing the platform in which to improve the lives of local & national communities worldwide. As Dr. Seuss said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose…” – ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’-
Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response – May 13, 2013
Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, is the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As the Assistant Secretary, Dr. Lurie is the Secretary’s primary advisor on all matters that relate to bioterrorism and many other types of public health crises. In a leadership role for ASPR, Dr. Lurie coordinates activities between the HHS, many other federal departments, offices and agencies, as well as many state and local offices that handle emergency preparedness.
She also helps in the protection of civilians from bioterrorism and other types of public health emergencies. The primary role of the ASPR under Dr. Lurie’s leadership is to lead the country in the prevention, response and recovery from the effects of public health disasters and emergencies.
Dr. Lurie has received the AHSR Young Investigator Award, the Nellie Westerman Prize for Research in Ethics, the Heroine in Health Care Award, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Under her leadership the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response focuses on planning and response for public health emergencies; the build up of federal emergency medical capabilities; designing countermeasures of research, advance development and procurement and grants to provide more strength to hospitals and health care systems in public health emergencies.
Under the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act, HHS is the lead federal agency for the National Response Framework for the Emergency Support Function 8. ASPR is the leading office for all health and medical services in any health emergency that affects the public.
Dr. Lurie was Senior Natural Scientist and the Paul O’Neill Alcoa Professor of Health Policy at the RAND Corporation. She was the director of RAND’s public health and preparedness work and also for RAND’s Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. She served in the past as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services. She also has worked in the state government in Minnesota as Medical Advisor to the Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health. Also, she was Professor in the University of Minnesota Schools of Medicine and Public Health.
She attended both college and medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, and finished her residency and her MSPH at UCLA. There she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar.
Dr. Lurie has received numerous awards for her contributions to public health and is a member of the Institute of Medicine.
What She Has Been Up To
In early 2013, Dr. Lurie and more than 70 experts from two dozen federal agencies gathered on the NIH campus in Bethesda MD to determine ways that researchers can be deployed right away after acts of terrorism, natural disasters, pandemics and accidents.
Dr. Lurie was one of the leaders of this event and noted that the US is not organized at this time to do science in such moments of crisis. When a national disaster happens, first responders rush in, but research scientists often have to wait for approvals of data collection protocols, funding and reviews of proposed studies. All this must happen before they can get out the door to research.
This group worked together to come up with ideas to put processes in place that can speed up this response so lives can be saved.
Where She Has Been Quoted
“Our resilience depends on shared responsibility for preparedness across governments – from local communities to global partners, and includes all members of the public as full and equal partners in health security. Looking back, I’m encouraged by how far we have come and by how we are working together now in planning for the future.”
Testimony to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, entitled, “Safeguarding our Nation: HHS Readiness to Respond to a Biological or Other Emergency.” – October 2012
ASPR sends out regular tweets related to public health disaster preparedness:
— ASPR (@PHEgov) May 8, 2013
Learn how the whole community can work together to support each other before, during & after an emergency.go.usa.gov/Ts9m
— ASPR (@PHEgov) May 9, 2013
New National Planning Frameworks address emergency prevention, protection, mitigation, response & recovery. go.usa.gov/Ts9m
— ASPR (@PHEgov) May 10, 2013
For More Information
For more information about Dr. Lurie and to contact her, refer to the ASPR web page at the HHS website. Thank you for your work on behalf of public health, Dr. Lurie.