Time this week released its “100 Most Influential People” list, which includes a number of individuals who have made major contributions to health care.
This year, TIME recognized several health care providers, scientists, public health officials, and advocates for their work in health care, combating the Covid-19 pandemic, and advocacy for health equity including:
- President Joe Biden, who after taking office in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic “created a strong vaccine program that will save tens of thousands of lives,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote.
- Simone Biles, one of the most decorated American gymnasts of all time, who used her platform to share her personal journey and change the narrative on mental health, wrote professional tennis player Serena Williams.
- Barney Graham, a physician-scientist and thought leader in vaccine design, who created the foundation for many successful COVID-19 vaccines used today, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH. According to Fauci, “Graham has helped save millions of lives and altered the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
- Katalin Kariko, a biochemist and SVP at BioNTech, who pioneered early research efforts to demonstrate mRNA’s potential, ultimately leading to the development of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, wrote Jennifer Doudna, a Nobel Prize–winning biochemist, a co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9, and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Lidia Morawska, a physicist and Distinguished Professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Queensland University of Technology, who recognized the importance of aerosol transmission in the spread of Covid-19 and piloted the data used to convince authoritative bodies, including the World Health Organization, to do the same, wrote Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner.
- John Nkengasong, founding director and leader of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, has been a life-saving force during the Covid-19 pandemic by acting as an advocate for equitable access to vaccines—making him a “modern-day African hero,” wrote Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization. According to Okonjo-Iweala, Nkengasong, who is “one of the world’s leading virologists working on HIV/AIDS,” has during the pandemic contributed to “improved testing, better provision of Covid-19 tools—especially vaccines—and a more transparent approach to sharing Covid-19 data by all African nations.”
- Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, who has demonstrated “we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access” to end the pandemic, according to Prince Harry and Megan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, founders of the Archewell Foundation.
- Naomi Osaka, a professional tennis player, who spoke openly about her mental health struggles while advocating for justice for Black Americans. According to Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Osaka has shown that “you can be among the best in the world at what you do, and still fight for justice, and be open about the challenges you face.”
- Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, whose promise to produce “1.1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the developing world by the end of 2021” serves as the “backbone of the plan for global vaccine access mounted by a coalition of institutions, including [WHO],” Abhishyant Kidangoor, a TIME producer wrote. Kidangoor noted that while a “series of issues” have “slowed” Poonawalla’s ambitions, the Serum Institute “has almost doubled production of Covid-19 vaccines since May and is adding newer vaccines … to its portfolio in the coming months.”
- Prince Harry and Megan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, founders of the Archewell Foundation, who among other initiatives have partnered with nonprofit organizations “to help communities in need,” including “offering mental-health support to Black women and girls in the U.S., and feeding those affected by natural disasters in India and the Caribbean,” wrote José Andrés, chef and founder of World Central Kitchen.
- Adi Utarini, who is working to curb the threat of dengue fever—described by WHO “as one of the 10 greatest threats to the world’s health”—by “inoculating mosquitoes with Wolbachia, a bacteria that is harmless to humans but blocks mosquitoes from transmitting dengue with their bite,” according to Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of Pivotal Ventures.
- Rochelle Walensky, director of CDC, who exuded “calm courage” during her time on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, wrote Julie Gerberding, former CDC director and EVP at Merck. Walensky over the course of her career has also contributed to important research on “controlling HIV infection,” Gerberding added.
The list also recognized numerous individuals who have influenced health policy or drawn attention to issues related to social determinants of health, including TV host Tucker Carlson; Apple CEO Tim Cook; artist Mark Bradford; investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones; United States VP Kamala Harris; Nvidia President and CEO Jensen Huang; track and field athlete Allyson Felix; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-general of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Gro Intelligence Founder and CEO Sara Menker; India Prime Minister Narendra Modi; singer and humanitarian Dolly Parton; Donald Trump, former president of the United States; and environmental activist Phyllis Omido. (TIME, 9/15)
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