Webinar Recording: Surfing the COVID Waves

Public Health Panel

This Fall, the response to COVID-19 is complicated by an active Hurricane season and wildfires, among other things. Hear from public health experts in Houston, TX and Los Angeles, CA. on best practices, lessons learned, and challenges of dealing with the flu season and natural disasters all while fighting COVID.

Watch recorded webinar video below:


David M. Souleles, MPH

David M. Souleles, MPH

David M. Souleles, MPH
Director, COVID-19 Response Team
Program in Public Health
Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences
University of California, Irvine

Mr. Souleles has 33 years of experience in public health. Currently, he serves as the COVID-19 Response Team Director at the University of California Irvine (UCI). In this role he provides leadership in COVID-19 response planning as well as designing and operationalizing a COVID-19 campus-based contact tracing program.

Mr. Souleles previously served in a number of roles with the Orange County Health Care Agency including Deputy Agency Director/Director of Public Health Services, Public Health Chief of Operations, and Division Manager for Disease Control and Epidemiology. In these roles he led public health programs serving a population of more than 3 million. Prior to joining HCA, Mr. Souleles held various senior public health positions including an appointment by Governor Gray Davis as Chief Deputy Director for the California Department of Health Services and Preventive Health Bureau Manager and AIDS Program Manager for the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Souleles began his career as an HIV/AIDS health educator with UCI.

Mr. Souleles previously served as President and Executive Committee member of the County Health Executives Association of California (CHEAC), a statewide organization of county and city health directors.

Mr. Souleles holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles and an undergraduate degree in psychology from University of California, Irvine.

Jorge Orozco

Mr. Jorge Orozco

Jorge Orozco is currently the CEO at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, one of the largest and most complex hospitals in the United States, dedicated to providing world-class care for all. Prior to his appointment in 2018, he led Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center as the Chief Executive Officer since 2007. Mr. Orozco began his career as a Physical Therapist in 1988 and continues to practice at LAC+USC as a Physical Therapist.

Mr. Orozco earned his Masters of Science degree in Health Care Management from California State University, Los Angeles; a Physical Therapy degree from the University of California at San Francisco; and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Peter J. Hotez MD PhD

Peter J. Hotez MD PhD

Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine where he is also the Director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics. He is also University Professor at Baylor University, Fellow in Disease and Poverty at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, Faculty Fellow with the Hagler Institute for Advanced Studies at Texas A&M University, and Health Policy Scholar in the Baylor Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

Dr. Hotez is an internationally-recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. As head of the Texas Children’s CVD, he leads a team and product development partnership for developing new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and SARS/MERS/SARS-2 coronavirus, diseases affecting hundreds of millions of children and adults worldwide, while championing access to vaccines globally and in the United States. In 2006 at the Clinton Global Initiative he co-founded the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to provide access to essential medicines for hundreds of millions of people.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics from Yale University in 1980 (phi beta kappa), followed by a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Rockefeller University in 1986, and an M.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College in 1987. Dr. Hotez has authored more than 500 original papers and is the author of four single-author books, including Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases (ASM Press); Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor amid Wealth (Johns Hopkins University Press); Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism (Johns Hopkins University Press); and a forthcoming 2020 book on vaccine diplomacy in an age of war, political collapse, climate change and antiscience (Johns Hopkins University Press).

Dr. Hotez served previously as President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and he is founding Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (Public Health Section) and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (Public Policy Section). In 2011, he was awarded the Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Leadership in Inter-American Health by the Pan American Health Organization of the WHO. In 2014-16, he served in the Obama Administration as US Envoy, focusing on vaccine diplomacy initiatives between the US Government and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2018, he was appointed by the US State Department to serve on the Board of Governors for the US Israel Binational Science Foundation, and is frequently called upon frequently to testify before US Congress. He has served on infectious disease task forces for two consecutive Texas Governors. For these efforts in 2017 he was named by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the 34 most influential people in health care, while in 2018 he received the Sustained Leadership Award from Research!America. In 2019 he received the Ronald McDonald House Charities Award for Medical Excellence.

Most recently as both a vaccine scientist and autism parent, he has led national efforts to defend vaccines and to serve as an ardent champion of vaccines going up against a growing national “antivax” threat. In 2019, he received the Award for Leadership in Advocacy for Vaccines from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Dr. Hotez appears frequently on television (including BBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC), radio, and in newspaper interviews (including the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal).

Umair A. Shah, M.D., M.P.H.

Umair A. Shah, M.D., M.P.H.

In 2013, Dr. Umair A. Shah was appointed Executive Director and Local Health Authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – the nationally recognized and accredited $100 million agency comprised of 700 public health professionals serving the nation’s third largest county with 4.7 million people.

Dr. Shah earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University and M.D. from the University of Toledo Health Science Center. He completed Internal Medicine residency, General Medicine/Primary Care fellowship, and an MPH in Management & Policy Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center. During his training, he also completed an international health policy internship at World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Switzerland.

Dr. Shah has enjoyed a distinguished career as an emergency department physician at Houston’s well-respected Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center. His journey in public health began as Chief Medical Officer of Galveston County Health District before joining HCPH to oversee its clinical health system and infectious disease portfolio. Under his leadership, HCPH has won numerous awards including recognition as Local Health Department of the Year by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in 2016 for its work in innovation, engagement, and health equity.

Sought for his practical insights, Dr. Shah has presented in both the Texas Legislature and on Capitol Hill and sits on numerous national boards and advisory groups including with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Network for Public Health Law, Trust for America’s Health, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Texas Department of State Health Services, and Texas Medical Association. He previously served as president of NACCHO (and its Texas affiliate) representing the nearly 3,000 local health departments across the U.S. He remains active in clinical and academic activities through various Texas Medical Center institutions.

In addition to clinical activities, Dr. Shah has participated in various leadership trainings including with the National Public Health Leadership Institute, the American Leadership Forum, and the Kresge Foundation’s Emerging Leaders in Public Health Program. He has responded to numerous large-scale emergencies such as Tropical Storm Allison; Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike; novel H1N1 influenza; the devastating earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti; and responses to Ebola and Zika, respectively. Dr. Shah served as medical branch co-director for the 27,000 Katrina evacuees sheltered at the Houston Astrodome in 2005 and recently led Harris County’s public health efforts in response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017-2018.

On a personal level, originally from Pakistan and having grown up in Cincinnati, Dr. Shah appreciates the excitement of both cricket and baseball, while (unfortunately) remaining a diehard Cincinnati Bengals football fan. His travels have taken him across the globe from London to Lahore; Athens to Auckland; Dubai to Dhaka. He is married with three children who make sure he takes family time out to enjoy movies, museums, and parks.

Over his career, Dr. Shah has made significant contributions to the fields of medicine and public health as a clinician, innovator, educator, and leader.

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