Professor Christine Kreuder Johnson Appointed New Director for the UC Davis Institute for Pandemic Intelligence

UC Davis Grand Challenges is pleased to announce Professor Christine Kreuder Johnson as the new Director of the Institute for Pandemic Intelligence (IPI). Dr. Johnson has been serving as a Champion for the Grand Challenge on Emerging Health Threats since inception in 2022. The Institute for Pandemic Intelligence was also founded as part of the UC Davis Grand Challenge for Emerging Health Threats in 2022.

“Dr. Johnson possesses unparalleled knowledge of how to mitigate pandemic threats,” said Dr. Jonna Mazet, Vice Provost of Grand Challenges. “She is the ideal person to lead the university’s work in building a collaborative, transdisciplinary network to prepare for impending threats to health.”

Harnessing the Power of UC Davis for Pandemic Prevention

Preparing for the next pandemic requires implementing innovative practices and technologies developed by UC Davis and our partners to identify, respond to, and mitigate epidemics with the goal of saving lives. Professor Johnson brings over 20 years of experience in education, research, policy, partnerships, and strengthening capacity for pandemic prevention and global health security.

At UC Davis, Dr. Johnson has been leading initiatives to investigate the root causes of emerging infectious diseases and identify novel solutions to mitigate and prevent pandemic threats. Her research activities focus on zoonotic disease spillover and spread dynamics, epidemiologic drivers of zoonotic disease transmission, ecosystem level processes that impact wildlife population health and emerging infectious diseases, and mechanisms underlying species declines. She provides epidemiologic support to national and state agencies during unusual outbreak events and has developed and implemented risk-based approaches for surveillance and standardized risk assessment to enable systematic data analysis across a range of field studies from the local to global scale.

Her accomplishments include the design of core didactic instruction in One Health, ecosystem health, and population health for graduate and professional degree programs and primary mentorship to over 45 graduate students and post-doctoral scholars. From 2009-2020, Professor Johnson served as epidemiologist for USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT project, which aimed to optimize global surveillance activities to identify infectious disease threats at high-risk animal-human interfaces and worked with host country governments and international organizations to meet global health priorities. She also directed surveillance activities for PREDICT to implement concurrent animal and human sample and data collection needed to detect disease spillover, amplification, and spread and inform risk mitigation strategies.

Currently, Professor Johnson serves as Principal Investigator for the EpiCenter for Emerging Infectious Disease Intelligence (NIH-NIAID Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Disease), which seeks to strengthen disease detection capabilities for high priority zoonoses and understand adaptation in spillover and transmission, providing epidemiologic insight to mitigate risk and prevent epidemics. This work, implemented with collaborating scientists in Peru and Uganda, is investigating the influence of environmental change, especially deforestation and climate, on ebolaviruses, coronaviruses, and arboviruses at the edge of forest and urban ecosystems. Professor Johnson also directs the EpiCenter for Disease Dynamics, which is a team-based learning environment using data intensive approaches to inform solutions to complex problems spanning animal, human, and environmental health.

“Through the Institute for Pandemic Intelligence, we hope to harness the power of UC Davis and capture what triggers these emerging health threats with early detection and new technologies. We also are working to understand how these threats impact both humans and animals, and how we can inform community engagement and environmental stewardship,” said Dr. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson serves as Professor of Epidemiology and Ecosystem Health in the School of Veterinary Medicine, as Associate Director of the One Health Institute. She was elected into the National Academy of Medicine for pioneering approaches to surveillance of emerging diseases at the animal-human interface and investigating environmental drivers for spillover of viruses. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a distinguished U.S. Science Envoy for the Department of State.

More about Professor Christine Kreuder Johnson

• UC Davis News: Professor Christine Kreuder Johnson to serve as U.S. Science Envoy
• On CBS 60 Minutes: The Oct. 30 episode of 60 Minutes featured the EpiCenter for Emerging Infectious Disease Intelligence work near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
• UC Davis News: The Link Between Virus Spillover, Wildlife Extinction and the Environment
• UC Davis News: Epidemiologist Elected to National Academy of Medicine

More about Grand Challenges

Addressing our planet’s most complex issues requires new perspectives and visionary action. Grand Challenges is catalyzing the campus community to go beyond team science to holistically tackle wicked problems. Built from a foundation of grassroots work and prioritized by leaders across UC Davis, Grand Challenges cultivates and champions work to understand and find innovative solutions to complex issues. The work done by our campus community will serve as a global model and enable our world to move forward with equity and resilience.

Media Contact

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