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    Pandemic Puzzle

    Stanford University School of Medicine
    Special Events, Projects, Programs, or Campaigns - Silver

    Through the Pandemic Puzzle conference series, Stanford Medicine and Stanford Graduate School of Business convened leading experts — across government, business, and health care — to discuss the global pandemic response, lessons for our recovery, and how we can build resilience to current and future health threats. Here are high-level descriptions of the sessions:

    • Responding to a Global Pandemic: Responding to an existential health threat demands unprecedented coordination at all levels of government, across health care, and with the private sector. Stakeholders from these groups explored the intersecting roles of government and business during a pandemic.
    • Building Toward Health Equity and an Inclusive Recovery: This session explored how future pandemic responses must address socioeconomics and health disparities to prevent the inequitable outcomes suffered by minority populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Tracking and Mitigating a 21st Century Pandemic: This session focused on improving the tools and critical infrastructure needed to track pandemics and prevent their spread, including public health interventions, data systems, surveillance technologies, supply chains, and disaster-response stockpiles.
    • Agile Discovery and Innovation: Advancing Tomorrow’s Vaccines, Treatments, and Cures: From investment in research and development to regulatory science, this session explored how to build on the pace of biomedical innovation witnessed during the pandemic.

    What was the most impactful part of your entry?
    Our greatest impact was the caliber of leaders we were able to convene, from across sectors and political ideologies, to have this important conversation. This impact was reinforced by several speakers during the sessions who pointed out that, prior to this event, there was a dearth of opportunities to come together and constructively discuss lessons learned from the pandemic.

    What challenge did you overcome?
    Examining a pandemic while still being in one presented the unique challenge of having to continuously adapt programming to reflect the news of the day. On numerous occasions, we modified sessions the day before and even the day of to bring up breaking news. As one example, we updated a fireside chat conversation with Janet Woodcock, then acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to discuss the FDA’s approval of booster shots for eligible Americans — news that broke only hours before the live discussion. This required us to update our interview questions and preclear them with the FDA’s public affairs team.

    Alison Peterson