September 28, 2020

TIME's '100 Most Influential': Which health care leaders made the list?

Daily Briefing

    TIME last week released its annual "100 Most Influential People" list, which this year includes a number of individuals who have made major contributions to health care.

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    The list

    This year, TIME recognized several health care providers, scientists, public health officials, and advocates for their work in health care and combating the Covid-19 pandemic, including:

    • Ady Barkan, an ALS patient and health care activist in the United States, who has been working to draw "attention to our broken health care system, supporting frontline health care workers, and pushing for relief for working people as they get sick and lose their jobs," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote.

    • J Balvin, a musician, who publicly shared his struggle with anxiety and mental health, Camilla Cabello, a singer and songwriter, wrote.

    • Amy O'Sullivan, an ED nurse at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn, who treated the first Covid-19 patient at the hospital—a patient who later became New York's first Covid-19 death—Katie Couric, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, wrote. O'Sullivan eventually began displaying Covid-19 symptoms herself, spending four days on a ventilator and some time recuperating at home before she eventually returned to work.

    • Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has helped lead the United States through the new coronavirus epidemic and was "among the first to step forward with facts and only facts" when the new coronavirus showed up in the United States, television host Jimmy Kimmel wrote. Fauci "delivers the truth, as difficult as it may be to hear, earnestly and with one goal: to save lives," Kimmel wrote.

    • Bonnie Castillo, an RN and executive director of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association. Castillo was one of the first to call out the lack of personal protective equipment available to nurses nationwide and fought against layoffs and pay cuts amid theepidemic, Dolores Huerta, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, wrote.

    • Camilla Rothe, an infectious disease specialist in Munich who led a research team that became one of the first to document an asymptomatic infection of the new coronavirus, Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, wrote. "Her discovery has saved countless lives, and if only we all had listened to Dr. Rothe earlier, more spread could have been prevented," Topol wrote.

    • Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, a Congolese doctor who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976 and who "took exemplary action to battle misinformation and public mistrust of vaccine therapies," Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, wrote. Muyembe has also developed containment techniques for the Ebola virus and has served as "a model of excellence for humanity as he gives hope to the most vulnerable," Mukwege wrote.

    • Jung Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, who led South Korea's efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus by "candidly interacting with the public, based on the principles of openness, transparency, and democracy," Moon Jae-In, president of South Korea, wrote. When the new coronavirus first arrived in South Korea, Commissioner Jung held daily briefings giving updates on the number of confirmed cases, as well as the latest information on tests, treatment, and quarantine, and, in response, the South Korean public voluntarily cooperated with coronavirus prevention measures, Jae-In wrote.

    • Lauren Gardner, an associate professor of engineering at Johns Hopkins University, who helped develop the university's Covid-19 dashboard, which has become the "go-to resource to track the global pandemic," Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor wrote.

    • Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease, who helped develop a functional cure for HIV through stem-cell treatments from donors with a rare gene mutation. Adam Castillejo, also known as the London Patient, the second person to be functionally cured of HIV, wrote that Gupta's work has "clearly earned him respect and admiration from his colleagues in the HIV research community."

    • Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch physician and activist, who sued FDA in 2019 for the ability to provide early, safe abortions remotely through her organization, Cecile Richards, founder of Supermajority and former president of Planned Parenthood, wrote. "In this moment of fear and uncertainty, Gomperts is a beacon of hope, standing up for the principle that safe abortion is a human right," Richards wrote.

    • Shi Zhengli, a virologist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, who led one of the first research teams to isolate the new coronavirus and determine where it had come from, Carl Zimmer, a New York Times columnist, wrote. In 2015, Zhengli and her colleagues warned that a coronavirus stemming from bats—similar to the one that caused the SARS epidemic in 2003—would wreak havoc. "Five years later, [the new coronavirus] proved her right," Zimmer wrote.

    • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), who has been at the "center of the Covid-19 storm," Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, wrote. "Tedros has stood firmly for equity and access—the idea that all people, wherever they are and whatever their circumstances, have the right to quality health care," Okonjo-Iweala wrote.

    • Tunji Funsho, a former cardiologist and current chair of Rotary International's polio-eradication program in Nigeria. Funsho worked alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foudnation, WHO, CDC, and UNICEF to lead National Immunization Days to help millions of children get doses of the polio vaccine throughout Nigeria, Jeffrey Kluger, TIME editor at large, wrote. This summer, Nigeria was officially declared polio-free after seeing four years without a case of the disease.

    • Zhang Yongzhen, who led a team of researchers who published the first genome of the new coronavirus days after the first group of Covid-19 cases emerged, Pardis Sabeti, a professor at Harvard University and member of the Broad Institute, wrote. As a result of Yongzhen's work, scientists worldwide were able to start developing coronavirus tests as early as January.

    • Zhong Nanshan, leader of China's National Health Commission's expert panel for investigating the new coronavirus outbreak in the country. Zhong has been "very effective in calming public fear and anxiety with facts, and promoting community support for public-health measures," Margaret Chan, former director-general of WHO, said. Zhong also shared China's coronavirus containment efforts with the world and received a Medal of the Republic from President Xi Jinping for his contributions in the fight against the virus.

    • Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba, who helped keep supply chains running during the new coronavirus pandemic and brought artificial intelligence solutions to hospitals to help diagnose Covid-19, Joe Tsai, co-founder and executive vice chair of Alibaba, wrote.

    The list also recognized numerous political leaders and organizers who have influenced health policy or drawn attention to issues related to social determinants of health, including President Donald Trump; former Vice President Joe Biden; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.); Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, founders of Black Lives Matter; and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, leader of Feeding America.

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