CCST Workshop Envisions a More Holistic and Inclusive Public Health System Informed by COVID-19 Response

June 23, 2022 | , ,   | Contact: Mikel Shybut

An illustration of COVID-19 by the CDC half in color and half in black and white with a blue border and CCST logo


SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) hosted a workshop with leading public health experts on June 14th and 17th to identify opportunities to strengthen California’s public health system.  Participants were challenged with producing actionable, holistic, and equitable recommendations for policymakers.

The workshop was part of the CCST Disaster Resilience Initiative COVID-19 workstream, which focuses on applying lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to build California’s resilience to future pandemics and other disasters.  Michael Kleeman, Senior Fellow of UC San Diego’s School of International Relations, led the workshop as Chair of CCST’s COVID-19 Steering Committee.

The two-day workshop kicked off with a keynote conversation between Dr. Harvey Fineberg, President of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, Chief Equity Officer and Deputy Director of the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity. The two leaders discussed lessons learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and their vision for a 21st century public health system.


Headshots of Dr. Fineberg and Dr. Radhakrishna on a blue background with CCTS's logo


“Before people move on from COVID-19, we have a narrow window to boldly reimagine and build the resilient public health system that ensures our safety and wellbeing. Climate change is already increasing the frequency and severity of disasters acting as a force multiplier of communicable and chronic disease. This is the moment in our careers to break the historic cycle of panic, lament, and neglect. May the workshop recommendations address the urgency, hope, and visionary scale needed to ensure a healthy California for all,” said Radhakrishna.

“The COVID pandemic has taught us the vital role of public health leadership at all levels—national, state, and local. In California, we have been well-served by excellent public health leaders, and that spirit of excellence embraces an attitude of continued learning and continuous improvement. This workshop can provide lessons that will help us cope even more effectively with public health emergencies in the future,” said Fineberg.

The workshop included participants from a broad range of institutions, including public health experts from CCST’s university and federal laboratory Partner Institutions, as well as experts from local, county, state, and federal public health departments, universities outside of California, and nonprofit health and research organizations.

CCST CEO Amber Mace, PhD, welcomed participants and stressed the importance of convening diverse experts to identify opportunities to strengthen California’s public health system.

Zoom screenshot of Amber Mace, Harvey Fineberg, and Rohan Radhakrishna on a white background with CCST logo
CCST CEO Amber Mace, PhD, Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, and Dr. Harvey Fineberg speak during the Keynote discussion of the CCST COVID-19 public health workshop, part of CCST’s Disaster Resilience Initiative.


“Now in our third year of the pandemic and counting, there are so many crucial lessons to learn about our pandemic response,” said Mace. “The discussions among the wide range of experts involved in this workshop will produce timely, actionable recommendations for policymakers to support and improve our public health system.”

Expert discussions focused on six key issues relating to the public health system: Biosurveillance, Outbreak Detection, and Early Warning Systems; Case Reporting, Contact Tracing, and Containment; Data Infrastructure, Analytics, Modeling, and Forecasting; Media and Crisis Communications; Dispensing and Administering Medical Countermeasures; and Provisioning of Care and Treatment.

Though the keynote and subsequent conversations were not recorded, proceedings and recommendations from the workshop will be published at a later date. 

CCST COVID-19 Steering Committee:

Michael Kleeman (Chair), UC San Diego; Red Cross
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, UC Davis
Jesús G. Alvelo-Maurosa, National Science Foundation
Arleen Brown, UC Los Angeles
Richard Carpiano, UC Riverside
Michael Kurilla, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH


About the California Council on Science and Technology
The California Council on Science and Technology is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature — making California’s policies stronger with science and technology since 1988. We engage leading experts in science and technology to advise State policymakers — ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation.

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