Regina Rabinovich, MD, MPH

Posted 2 September 2016

President-Elect candidate

Regina Rabinovich, MD, MPH
Harvard University, Massachusetts, U.S.
ISGlobal, University of Barcelona, Spain  

Personal Statement 
Looking back, one day we will think - It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….

When I first attended the Society’s Annual Meeting, I was an epidemiology fellow at NIH, attracted to a relatively small group focused on tropical diseases and issues of relevance to distant and disenfranchised populations. Because of relevance to my interests, over the years I became a volunteer in the Society, serving as Councilor (2005-2009) and on the Scientific Program Committee, joining in at the creation of the Global Health subgroup, and, currently, as a section editor for our journal, AJTMH. It has become my professional home base.  With enthusiasm, I agreed to be considered by our membership for the role of President, ASTMH.

Reflecting on what the role entails allows me to consider the changes facing the Society today. The world has shifted dramatically: we focus now on both the problems and the potential solutions that can be brought to bear to a range of tropical infectious diseases and global health. As recently as 15 years ago, few drugs or vaccines were being developed to combat these, and those that existed were not being used at scale or accessed by those most at risk. There has been a significant transition from a framework of rare, tropical infectious diseases, to a framework of global health that recognizes that some of these cause a significant burden of mortality and/or morbidity that require application of the best science (from basic research to product development, epidemiology, social sciences, and health systems) and engagement of diverse sectors (such as academia, infectious disease clinicians, industry, product development partnerships, government and multilaterals). The drivers for this transition has been a combination of what can be achieved based on application of the best science, with the vision and commitment that have marshaled the creation and distribution of new funds.

The confluence of Neglected, Tropical and Emerging diseases – most actively embodied by Zika and Ebola – has made evident to the public that these can have global impact. We must apply the best clinical and public health measures to their control and prevention. As an independent organization of committed individuals, we will have the opportunity, the privilege, and at times, the obligation, to be an informed and measured voice. Fear of the little known, and its devastating consequences, multiplies in the absence of good science, and this is an opportunity to draw from our leadership, including but not limited to the President, to reflect on emerging data, and ensuring that sufficient and timely solutions are created and available – globally. Notably, beyond the gap in resources to take on these specific challenges, there is still a gap in the business model for engaging industry in a sustainable manner to develop interventions that may ultimately not be used. 

The growth of our Society reflects the transitions in the field, and I believe points to some opportunities for evolution that would be one of my priorities. The expansion in the breadth and size of the Annual Meetings and the submissions to the AJTMH, and the growth in our membership allow us to ensure global involvement in the Society at all levels, including our governing bodies. We need to expand our ability to sustain engagement of the next generation, whether directly or through application of communication technologies beyond our Annual Meeting. 

The global transition in leadership will continue to transform the landscape. Aside from changes in the political leadership of nations, we will witness changes in leadership of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and key U.S. health programs. Moreover, the new paradigm of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by which countries are now measuring their own progress, reflects tensions between the emerging burden of chronic diseases with the changing goals for infectious diseases, be these control or elimination. The solution is clearly not one over the other, but evidence-based strategies-- for maximizing the impact of health interventions in a world challenged by the environmental crisis and failed states --are needed, and I believe our Society can be one of the loci for these discussions. 

I know that the Society has been an important voice in the US for this agenda, and must continue to engage science leaders in tropical and infectious diseases, by recognizing excellence and advocating for the investments in the research that underlies the best health interventions. Our agenda can also consider alignment in strategic partnerships with other organizations to achieve these goals, both through exploration of programmatic areas for discussion, as well as an aligned advocacy platform. 
It would be an honor to serve. 

Summary of Volunteer/Member Roles in ASTMH
I first served as Councilor in 2005-2009. I began to learn how the society worked as a membership organization with an extremely committed volunteer base, and how the perspectives of the extremely varied membership needed to be considered in setting the vision and agenda for the organization.

Member of the Scientific Program Committee member from 2010-2014. Again, learned more about the amazing commitment by volunteers to an excellent annual meeting, with thoughtful discussions on balance, how to highlight innovation, and how to structure the meeting and sessions.

Global health subgroup (ACGH) nominating committee member, 2011 through 2013. The growth of global health institutes in academia has been driven by the interests of the students in being involved early in their career. The appreciation that there are a variety of tracks into “global health” and that this includes a variety of disciplines both enriches and challenges them to find their path. Mentorship, modeling and elevating the focus to the broader agenda are priorities. In this context, I was co-chair, 2014 Global Health Pre-Meeting Course: Whither Health? Ensuring Health Impact in the Post-2015 Global Agenda, which was well attended and reviewed. 

Global Health subgroup - nominated Section Editor AJTMH 2013 to present.  This is an important aspect of society membership and engagement, both as reviewers and as authors, with increasing workload as the number and types of publications expand. 

Biographical Information
Regina Rabinovich is the ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence at Harvard University, and Director of the Malaria Elimination Initiative at ISGLOBAL at the University of Barcelona. She serves as the Chair of the Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance, hosted at ISGLOBAL, and has led the steering committee for the ongoing Malaria Eradication Research Agenda refresh. She has over 25 years of experience in global health across research, public health, and philanthropic sectors, with focus on strategy, global health product development, and the introduction and scale-up of tools and strategies resulting in impact on endemic populations. Prior to joining Harvard, Dr. Rabinovich served as Director of the Infectious Diseases division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, overseeing the development and implementation of strategies for the prevention, treatment, and control of infectious diseases of particular relevance to malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, and neglected infectious diseases. Dr. Rabinovich was Chief of the Clinical and Regulatory Affairs Branch at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), focusing on the development and evaluation of vaccines through a network of US clinical research units. She participated in the Children's Vaccine Initiative, a global effort to prevent infectious diseases in children in the developing world. In 1999, Dr. Rabinovich became the founding director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance efforts to develop promising malaria vaccine candidates. She serves on the boards of CMMB, and AERAS, a non-profit biotech focused on development of vaccines for tuberculosis, the UNITAID PRC, and the Sabin Vaccine Institute. Dr. Rabinovich holds a medical degree from Southern Illinois University and a Masters of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina.