Boston Book Festival 2021 Boston Book Festival 2021

Kickoff Keynote: Our Pandemic Future

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Nicholas A. Christakis
Apollo's Arrow, Friday, October 15 | virtual

Nicholas A. Christakis is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University. His work is in the fields of network science, biosocial science, and behavior genetics. He directs the Human Nature Lab and is the codirector of the Yale Institute for Network Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2006, the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.

Sandro Galea
The Contagion Next Time, Friday, October 15 | virtual

Sandro Galea, a physician, epidemiologist, and author, is Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health. He previously held academic and leadership positions at Columbia University, University of Michigan, and the New York Academy of Medicine. He has published extensively in the peer-reviewed literature and is a regular contributor to a range of public media about the social causes of health, mental health, and the consequences of trauma. Galea has been listed as one of the most widely cited scholars in the social sciences. He is past chair of the board of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and past president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and has received several lifetime achievement awards. Galea holds a medical degree from the University of Toronto, graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow.

Vanessa Kerry
Friday, October 15 | virtual

Vanessa Kerry is the co-founder and CEO of Seed Global Health (Seed), a nonprofit that focuses on the power of investing in health and the health workforce for social well-being, economic growth, and equity which transforms countries. Her work has been featured at conferences, in print, online and media including the Aspen Ideas Festival, the United Nations, the World Health Assembly, NPR, PBS, MSNBC and Marie Claire, the New England Journal of Medicine, the New York Times, and the Lancet. She graduated from Yale University summa cum laude and Harvard Medical School cum laude, completing her clinical training at Massachusetts General Hospital. She earned her Master’s in Health Policy, Planning, and Financing from the London Schools of Economics and of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is currently a critical care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and serves as the Associate Director of Partnerships and Global Initiatives at MGH Global Health. She directs the Global Public Policy and Social Change program at Harvard Medical School where she has focused on links between security and health. Kerry is a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Social Entrepreneur, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was recently appointed to the prestigious President’s Council for International Activities at Yale University, and sits on the Advisory Boards of Wellbeing Foundation Africa and the University of Global Health Equity.


Our opening session spotlights the profound effects of the pandemic and what we must do to shore up the very foundation of our society to avoid a similar catastrophe in the future. In the highly lauded Apollo’s Arrow, bestselling author, physician, sociologist, and public health expert Nicholas A. Christakis discusses what it means to live with plague. In The Contagion Next Time, physician, epidemiologist and bestselling author Sandro Galea argues that poor public health, economic inequalities, and racism are largely to blame for our inadequate preparation and response to the crisis. Our host for this timely session is Vanessa Kerry, director of the Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.