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September 9, 2021

Inoculating Cities: Case Studies of Urban Pandemic Preparedness

Event Series: Global Public Health Seminars

Showing the Inoculating Cities: Case Studies of Urban Pandemic Preparedness Video

Cities and urban areas are uniquely vulnerable to large-scale infectious outbreaks due to their dense and highly mobile populations, status as global transit hubs, persistent socioeconomic inequalities, and other unique contextual factors. However, they also frequently offer pragmatic models for addressing these issues and improving both local and global health security. It is in this context that Inoculating Cities: Case Studies of Urban Pandemic Preparedness was conceptualized. The volume, published in July 2021, represents a collection of case studies on models of urban pandemic preparedness and response from around the world. The first Global Health Security Seminar of the new academic year featured a seminar and facilitated discussion with the editors and three of the esteemed authors on the work done in cities to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies, and how these concepts relate to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This event was part of the Global Health Security Seminar Series, co-sponsored by Georgetown’s Center for Global Health Science and Security and the Global Health Initiative.


Rebecca Katz is a professor and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security and holds joint appointments in Georgetown University Medical Center and the School of Foreign Service. She teaches courses on global health diplomacy, global health security, and emerging infectious diseases in the Science, Technology and International Affairs, Security Studies, and Global Infectious Disease Programs. Since 2007, much of her work has been on the domestic and global implementation of the International Health Regulations as well as global governance of public health emergencies. 

Matthew Boyce is a Ph.D. student in the Global Infectious Diseases Program at Georgetown University. Prior to beginning his doctoral work, Matt worked as a staff member at the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University from 2017 to 2020, where he contributed to a number of projects, including tools and datasets housed in the Georgetown Infectious Disease Atlas, and the center’s work on urban pandemic preparedness, deliberate biological events, synergies between Global Fund activities and health security, the control of neglected tropical diseases, and response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saskia Popescu is an infectious disease epidemiologist and infection preventionist with a focus on health care biopreparedness. She currently serves as a member of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Coronavirus Taskforce and is a member of the Committee on Data Needs to Monitor Evolution of SARS-CoV-2 within the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). Prior to her faculty affiliations, Dr. Popescu worked as infecting prevention epidemiologist in several large healthcare systems, working to enhance readiness and biopreparedness. 

Jay Atanda is a healthcare professional and quantitative scientist with methodological expertise across epidemiology, biostatistics, and bioinformatics with extensive experience in analyzing large, high-dimensional healthcare data, project development, client engagement, and linking together multiple projects to build initiatives. With over 10 years of clinical and public health practice, he has applied experience in the use of real-world data to develop evidence strategy and identify value across multiple clinical areas cutting across chronic and infectious diseases.

Irene Lai is a physician with 20 years of experience in medical assistance, corporate pandemic preparedness, and health and risk communication. She is the global medical director for medical information and analysis at International SOS, providing technical and practical guidance to International SOS and its clients globally, on topics ranging from infectious and pandemic diseases, travel health, public health, disaster preparedness and response, and medical risk. She has worked in Sydney, Chicago, New York, Singapore, and Jakarta. In addition to her global role with International SOS, she continues clinical general practice.

Francesca Viliani is the director of public health at International SOS and a Chatham House fellow. Viliani is a public health specialist focusing on the role of the private sector in global health issues and wider international development. She is recognized internationally for her expertise in the environmental, social, and health impact assessment  of large-scale projects and the national plans they are associated with. She has gained extensive experience in health system strengthening, public private partnerships, and infectious disease outbreak preparedness and response.

Uwe Brandes is professor of the practice, faculty director of the Urban & Regional Planning Program, faculty director of the Georgetown Global Cities Initiative, and affiliated faculty in the Science, Technology, and International Affairs program at the Walsh School of Foreign Service and adjunct faculty at Georgetown Law. Brandes is a scholar-practitioner in the field of urban design and sustainable urban development, with more than 25 years of experience in planning, design, and development.