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Isaac Ghinai

Dr Isaac Ghinai, a Medical Director at the Chicago Department of Public Health and a former student of the MSc Global Health Science (now known as MSc Global Health Science and Epidemiology) at the Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH), has been recognised as one of the “40 Under 40 in Public Health” in recognition of his contributions to public health in the United States.

The de Beaumont Foundation announced its 2021 list on 14 September after reviewing the work of hundreds of rising leaders in public health. The cohort was selected by a distinguished panel of public health professionals for their leadership and impact on their community’s health.

Dr Ghinai said ‘Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of the public health workforce, whose contributions often go unrecognised. I’m honoured to be recognised as part of the de Beaumont Foundation’s “40 Under 40 in Public Health”, and to join an inspiring group of public health leaders. I’m particularly grateful for all of the training – including with NDPH – that has prepared me for the work I’m currently doing.’

Before moving to the United States in 2019, Dr Ghinai was a public health registrar and Academic Clinical Fellow at the Oxford School of Public Health. He completed his medical degree, academic foundation training and a BSc in International Health at University College London. He has held several research positions before coming to Oxford to study for the MSc Global Health Science. During his MSc, and subsequently as an Academic Clinical Fellow –  together with researchers at the Big Data Institute at Oxford University – Dr Ghinai embarked on the Mobile Malaria Project, travelling across four sub-Saharan African countries trialling novel, cheap genome sequencing methods in low-resource settings.

From 2019 to 2021 Dr Ghinai was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he was assigned to the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Public Health. Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Ghinai led the team responding to the first known person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the USA. Dr Ghinai has subsequently led Chicago’s response to COVID-19 in vulnerable populations, such as people experiencing homelessness and people incarcerated in correctional and detention facilities, and overseen testing and laboratory-based surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens of public health significance in Chicago. More recently, he deployed to the CDC’s International Task Force and participated in a World Health Organization Technical Working Group to establish global guidance for the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Speaking of his year in the MSc, Dr Ghinai said ‘The MSc in Global Health Science and Epidemiology was a fantastic year. I learnt so much about epidemiologic methods and statistical analysis from the excellent lectures delivered by global leaders; the small-group tutorials; and the regular, practical, hands-on computer sessions.

‘Whilst the year at the University of Oxford was stimulating and great fun, the truly unique value of this MSc has become clear to me only since graduating: the global reputation of the Nuffield Department of Population Health has opened doors to career options I could never have imagined, and the technical skills I developed during my MSc have been incredibly useful in subsequent research positions in Oxford, during fieldwork in sub-Saharan Africa, and are now invaluable in my work in the US.’

For more information about the honorees and their accomplishments, visit the de Beaumont website.