SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden identified the members of his new coronavirus advisory board and three of them are from the Bay Area.
When President-elect Biden announced his new advisory panel to launch a crusade against COVID-19, he drew heavily from the faculty of University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and helping lead the team will be a man who has been a crusader, all along.
Dr. David Kessler first became known to the public in 1994 when, as FDA Commissioner, he bucked the powerful tobacco industry by trying to get nicotine regulated as a drug. Dr. Jon Swartzberg is proud of his UCSF colleague.
“I particularly admire him because of his taking on Big Tobacco at a time when it took a lot of guts to do that,” Dr Swartzberg said. “He took them on more than anyone else had in the past and, though not as successful as I know he wanted to be, he really did move the needle.”
Dr. Kessler, a UCSF professor of pediatrics, has fought junk food producers for trying to hook their customers and, most recently, called out the pharmaceutical industry for creating the opioid epidemic.
Kessler is not the only fighter from UCSF on Biden’s team. Professor Eric Goosby, born and raised in San Francisco, worked at San Francisco General in those dark early years of the AIDS epidemic and was later appointed by President Obama as the US Global AIDS Coordinator.
“Just did wonderful, wonderful work with AIDS,” said Dr. Swartzberg. “Has an impeccable career and will be able to lend tremendous perspective in terms of how to handle this pandemic, because of his knowledge and experience and wisdom about what he did with AIDS.”
Finally, Dr. Robert Rodriquez will be lending his experience on the front lines as an emergency room physician, recognized nationally as an expert on the effects of extreme stress on emergency room (ER) workers during the pandemic.
These three men are tasked with conquering the greatest health emergency in our lifetimes, and they all come from the Bay Area’s own backyard, a fact not lost on Governor Gavin Newsom in his Monday address.
“I would be shocked if you do not hear more announcements in the coming weeks and months of other high-profile Californians getting picked to either advise, or picked for formal roles in the new administration,” he said.
The president-elect said he will rely on the advisory team to help create a “blueprint” for a national strategy to combat the pandemic.