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Preventing influenza pandemics- Read our series in Nature Research

Read in Nature

Documentary Series

The Influenzer Initiative’s video series highlights critical insights from conversations with leading infectious disease researchers, funders, and policymakers, who examine how recent vaccine breakthroughs could be applied to thwart another—potentially worse—pandemic threat: influenza.

The Latest


Ep 4. Applying Lessons Learned from COVID-19 to Prevent Influenza Pandemics

In episode four of our series, Alan Bernstein, Julie Gerberding, Edward Holmes, Mike Osterholm, Lynda Stuart, and Holden Thorp consider what COVID-19 can teach us about pandemic preparedness, vaccine development, and public health policy. Explore the full analysis in our white paper.


Scientific leaders discuss the future of pandemic vaccine R&D in light of the COVID-19 response.

Meet the Experts

Insights from these key opinion leaders in virology, public health policy, regulatory science and vaccine industry are featured in our documentary series and inform our messaging and publications.

Alan Bernstein

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

As leader of CIFAR, a global champion of cross-disciplinary scientific collaboration, Bernstein is an articulate advocate for the strategic application of AI in public health. CIFAR’s response to COVID-19 exemplifies these commitments as the organization advises the global community on the application of AI to stem the pandemic. CIFAR is also funding interdisciplinary, innovative, high-risk/high-reward projects applying AI to explore multiple aspects of COVID-19, including pathogenicity and transmission, accelerating vaccine development, and assessing its economic impacts.

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Harvey Fineberg headshot

Harvey Fineberg

President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

A former president of the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine), Fineberg is also board chair of the Science Philanthropy Alliance and co-chair of the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science & Policy Group.

In 2020, Fineberg assumed an additional chairmanship: leading the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Convened by request of the federal government in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the committee hosts discussions that inform national decision making on disease preparedness and response, explore lessons learned from previous efforts, identify best practices, and develop strategies for addressing misinformation.

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Julie Gerberding

Chief Patient Officer and Executive Vice President, Merck & Co.

In her role at Merck, Gerberding is responsible for a broad portfolio focused on patient engagement, strategic communications, global public policy, population health and corporate responsibility. She joined the company in 2010 as president of Merck vaccines.

Previously, Gerberding served as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leading the agency through more than 40 emergency responses to public health crises. The dozens of honors and awards she has received include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) distinguished service award, for her leadership in the response to anthrax bioterrorism and to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Gerberding is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American College of Physicians.

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Edward Holmes

Professor, University of Sydney, Australia

Known for his work on the evolution and emergence of RNA virus pathogens, Holmes was awarded the Australian Research Council’s five-year Australian Laureate Fellowship in 2017. He has studied the emergence and spread of viral diseases including COVID-19, influenza, dengue, HIV, hepitatis C, myxomatosis, rabbit hemorrhagic disease, and plague. Previously he held the Verne M. Willaman Chair in the Life Sciences at Pennsylvania State University and was an Affiliate Member of the Fogarty International Center (2005-2012) at the NIH.

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Michael Osterholm

Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP)

At the University of Minnesota, home of CIDRAP, Osterholm wears many hats: he is also Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health, a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute in the College of Science and Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the Medical School.

In November 2020, Osterholm was appointed to the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.

Osterholm is also co-author of the New York Times best-selling book, Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs (2017), which features a nine-point strategy to address infectious disease threats—beginning with preventing the next influenza pandemic.

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Lynda Stuart

Deputy Director of Vaccines and Human Immunobiology, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Stuart leads a team focused on sourcing novel approaches and accelerating the discovery, development, and translation of new passive and active immunization strategies for diseases deemed priorities by the foundation. She remains actively involved in basic research.

Prior to joining the foundation in 2016, Stuart was a faculty member at the Massachusetts General Hospital and at Harvard Medical School.  There she co-directed the Laboratory of Developmental Immunology and was a member of the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, an affiliate of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.  She also served on the Massachusetts General Hospital Executive Committee for Research.

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Holden Thorp

Editor-in-Chief of Science family of journals

From his position at the helm of a preeminent scientific journal, Thorp has advocated tirelessly for a science-driven response to COVID-19—a message that has resonated far beyond his usual audience within the research community.

Thorp trained as an inorganic chemist, founded two biotech companies, and held multiple teaching and leadership positions in academia before taking the reins at Science.  In Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-first Century, he and co-author Buck Goldstein champion the potential of research universities to address critical global challenges such as climate change and extreme poverty, while asserting that “virtually nothing important will get done in our great universities without the involvement of problem-based, multi-disciplinary teams.”

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