Global Health Expert Rebecca Katz Joins Georgetown University Medical Center

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON (June 1, 2016) — Georgetown University Medical Center announced today that Rebecca Katz, PhD, MPH, a specialist in global health science and security, has joined its faculty.  Katz, her research partner, Julie Fischer, PhD, and four other members of her research team, were recruited to Georgetown from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.

Katz is a tenured associate professor in the School of Nursing & Health Studies’ (NHS) Department of International Health.  Fischer, a microbiologist, and research team member Erin Sorrell, PhD, Msc, a virologist, join the department of microbiology and immunology. Claire Standley, PhD, MSc, a disease ecologist, joins Katz in the department of international health at NHS.  Research assistant Andrea Vaught and research associate Nina Kanakarajavelu. MA, MPH, also join the team at Georgetown.

“The work that Dr. Katz and her team are doing is an important contribution toward ensuring global health security and they’ll find great support and synergy here at Georgetown,” said Edward B. Healton, MD, MPH, executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the Georgetown School of Medicine. 

Katz says she was attracted to Georgetown because of the opportunity to “take a multidisciplinary approach and to engage faculty and students across the Medical Center as well as with the Law Center, the School of Foreign Service and other parts of the University.”

For more than a decade, Katz and her team have worked to help design systems and implement policies to facilitate a coordinated response to potential microbial outbreaks and pandemics in 22 countries — many low resourced and developing.

In their work, as Katz explains, “We ask and answer questions like, ‘What kind of systems do you need in place to have countries working together. How do you think about the types of capacity that is going to be required at the municipality level? What does this mean for travel and trade? Are there international agreements that should be in place to facilitate mitigation and response, and how do countries implement the ones that are already in place?’”

These are the challenges that can lead to advances, or breaks, in broader international diplomacy.

“Ours is policy work. We analyze policies and practices used throughout the world to prevent, detect and respond to emerging health threats before they become international crises,” Katz says.

“The better a country’s public health systems are, the sooner it can recognize that something abnormal is happening, the faster they can do something about it — and the more lives they are able to save,” she says. 

With the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations as a guiding framework and with federal funding, Katz and her colleagues have completed aspects of this work in Guinea, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Oman, Turkey, Cambodia, Lao, Malaysia, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

Katz also works on issues related to foodborne illness surveillance and response, and biosecurity and biosafety. Since 2004, she has consulted for the State Department working on issues related to the Biological Weapons Convention and emerging and pandemic threats.

Katz’s interest in international diplomacy has deep routes. Her undergraduate work at Swarthmore College was in political science and economics.  She received a Master of Public Health in international health from Yale University and a Master of Arts in public affairs from Princeton University, before earning her PhD, also at Princeton.

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.