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Leading experts join global discussion into Covid-19 impact


Some of the world’s most respected public health figures – including Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Nanshan Zhong – are to join a series of University of Edinburgh debates analysing the future implications of Covid-19.

Dr Fauci – leading infectious disease expert and chief medical advisor to the Biden Administration – and China’s top respiratory diseases expert Dr Zhong will take part in the first Edinburgh Futures Conversations event.

The opening session, which focuses on public health, will be chaired by former Botswanan Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou, Co-Chair of the Nursing Now Global Campaign.

Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Devi Sridhar, and Baillie Gifford Chair in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence, Shannon Vallor, will also join the event to share their perspectives of the pandemic and how to reshape public health systems.

Participants will examine the role that universities and students can play in nurturing a multi-sector, multi-level approach to collective action.

The free online event will take place on Tuesday, 2 March.

Further events in the series will focus on Covid-19’s impact on the global economy, social justice, sustainability, the creative sectors, and East-West relations.

The events will enable global influencers, academic experts and policymakers to discuss the longer term impacts of Covid-19.

The series aims to promote global understanding and cooperation, and contribute action-oriented thinking to the public debate about the world’s response to Covid.

It will also showcase the role that the University of Edinburgh’s research and teaching can play in supporting post-Covid-19 recovery and regeneration.

The events are being hosted on behalf of the University by the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), a cross-University forum committed to interdisciplinary collaboration.

EFI’s research and event programme brings together experts in the arts, humanities and social sciences with researchers working in data science, engineering, the natural sciences and medicine.

A key strand of its multi-disciplinary approach is working in partnership with communities, government and industry.

This first event is being led by Assistant Principal, Professor Liz Grant, and Assistant Principal and Director of EFI, Professor Lesley McAra.

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “ The Edinburgh Futures Conversations are designed to bring together global influencers, academic experts and policymakers to discuss some of the biggest issues facing the world. With a public health focus, the first event aims to promote global understanding and contribute action-oriented thinking to the world’s response to Covid-19.

“These events stand as testament to the critical role the University of Edinburgh can play internationally as a place of discussion, debate and challenge. I am delighted that Edinburgh will provide such a platform for leading experts from across the globe.”

Professor Lesley McAra, Director of EFI, said: “ The global pandemic demonstrates the need for international cooperation and mutual understanding to solve the many threats that our planet is facing today. Universities have a vital role to play in bringing diverse and competing interests to the table, as well as providing research evidence. The Edinburgh Futures Institute is proud to be hosting these conversations on behalf of the University of Edinburgh.”