Adam Aasen, MPH

University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Public Health Administration and Policy
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Global Affairs

How have you contributed to one of CDC’s priorities through your ASPPH/CDC Fellowship assignment? Explain what you have done that has “made a difference” at CDC and benefitted public health in the United States.

I started my fellowship at the HHS Office of Global Affairs (OGA) in the Pandemic and Emerging Threats office about five months before the COVID-19 pandemic began. In those initial five months, I spent my time working on influenza, pandemic preparedness, and vaccine confidence issues representing and supporting the U.S. Government on these issues in international and multilateral fora (such as the World Health Organization, World Health Assembly, the United Nations General Assembly, G7, G20, etc.). Once the COVID-19 outbreak began, my office – as the leading global health policy office for the U.S. – became fully immersed in tracking the outbreak, following international travel restrictions, mitigation measures, and sharing and adapting CDC guidance into global health policy. Because of my flu and vaccine confidence work, my team and I became immediately enmeshed in the U.S. COVID-19 response as a health policy office. Throughout the latter year and a half of my two-year fellowship, I led and supported various activities including but not limited to: coordinating with international partners on COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic development and international SARS-CoV-2 sample sharing; leading the coordination of the Pan American Health Organization Leveraging national experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen influenza pandemic preparedness in the Americas project sponsored by OGA; developing and refining the U.S. government policy positions on Mental health preparedness and response for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Public health implications of implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, the Immunization Agenda 2030, Strengthening WHO’s global emergency preparedness and response, and others; supporting the negotiations and subsequent adoption of the World Health Organization 148th Executive Board resolution on Mental Health Preparedness and Response for Public Health Emergencies; led U.S. engagement with international partners on vaccine confidence policy for the G7 Global Vaccine Confidence Campaign and through a Five Eyes partners Vaccine Confidence Small Group to share best practices and lessons learned; and supported high-level HHS and White House convened meetings on the COVID-19 response sharing the global health perspective and to keep OGA senior leadership informed on current policy issues and decisions.

How will your fellowship experience shape your career?

My fellowship had a profound impact on my career goals and aspirations. While my path is not laid in stone, my experiences and interest in pandemic preparedness and response has grown substantially due to the work I was able to do and participate in during my fellowship at HHS. I am now employed on the same influenza and pandemic preparedness team in the Office of Pandemic and Emerging Threats at HHS/OGA, and I’m excited to see how this transition from a fellow to FTE will lead me to my next goal for my career.

Describe specifically some of the relationships/partnerships you have built through the fellowship and how those relationships have helped/will help you in your career

My fellowship gave me the opportunity to engage with pandemic preparedness and response subject matter experts across the globe. Building relationships with the technical experts in other Ministries of Health, the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and in the private sector and nongovernmental organizations was a key part of succeeding in the projects I worked on throughout my fellowship. Looking internally to the US, I am very grateful for the connections and relationships built with my colleagues in OGA, HHS (including
ASPR, ASPA, CDC, NIH, FDA, etc.), and the U.S. Government interagency notably the close connections with colleagues at the State Department and USAID. This network will be a strong support system as I continue to grow in my career in pandemic preparedness and response, and public health at large.