Aspen Ideas: Health Releases Agenda for Three-Day Event Exploring the Future of Health Care, April 27-29

April 23, 2021

Register online for a free event presented by the Aspen Institute with media partner NBCUniversal News Group 

Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute

Washington, DC, April 23, 2021–The Aspen Institute today shared the agenda for the all-digital Aspen Ideas: Health, which will take place April 27-29 featuring leading voices from health care, public health, academia, government, business, the arts, journalism, and more. Speakers include Anthony Fauci, Rochelle Walensky, Atul Gawande, Marcella Nunez-Smith, Renée Fleming, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Attendees can register for Aspen Ideas: Health and view the full agenda here.

NBCUniversal News Group is the official media partner of Aspen Ideas: Health. Journalists from NBC News and MSNBC will lead interviews with key speakers and report on breaking news from the event. Select conversations will be streamed on NBC News NOW, and

Aspen Ideas: Health consists of a two-hour plenary each day featuring a series of conversations and performances on a range of health topics, “big ideas” presented by grassroots health leaders, and a one-hour Deep Dive, which will engage an expert panel and attendees in a focused discussion about a significant issue impacting health today. Speakers will address pandemics, structural racism in health care, ground-breaking discoveries in brain research and gene editing, and much more.

The agenda and hosts for each day is shared below, with the possibility of additional speakers to be announced before the event:

Tuesday, April 27, 1-3 p.m. & 4-5 p.m. ET – Hosted by John Torres, NBC News Senior Medical Correspondent, and Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute

  • Music to Our Ears (and Brains): The Arts Are Good for Your Health with Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health & Renée Fleming, World-renowned Soprano
  • Confronting and Dismantling Systemic Racism in Health Care with Amna Nawaz, Senior National Correspondent, PBS NewsHour & Laurie Zephyrin, Vice President, Advancing Health Equity, The Commonwealth Fund
  • Epidemics That Didn’t Happen with Tom Frieden, President and CEO, Resolve to Save Lives; Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President, Prevent Epidemics Initiative, Resolve to Save Lives; & Emmanuel Agogo, Nigeria Country Representative, Resolve to Save Lives
  • Beneath the Surface: Obesity and the Epidemic of Cardiometabolic Disease with ​Morris Birnbaum, Senior VP and Chief Scientific Officer, Internal Medicine Research Unit, Pfizer & Elise Labott, Columnist, Foreign Policy; Founder, Twopoint.0 Media
  • We Have Liftoff: Advancing Medicine on Earth Through Research in Space with Hayley Arceneaux, Physician Assistant, St. Jude; Participant, SpaceX Inspiration4 Mission & Serena Aunon-Chancellor, NASA Astronaut; Associate Professor, LSU Health Sciences Center, moderated by Tom Costello, Correspondent, NBC News 
  • Driving Healthcare Innovation in a Pandemic with Arpa Garay, President, Global Pharmaceuticals, Commercial Analytics, and Digital Marketing, Merck & Co. and Taren Grom, Co-Founding Partner, PharmaLinx; Editor, PharmaVOICE
  • Worth 1000 Words: Public Art as a Public Health Communication Tool with Aaron Huey, Founder and Creative Director, Amplifier
  • Structural Racism in Medicine: A Killer Disease and Public Health Crisis with Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair, COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force; Harriet Washington, Science Writer; Author; Medical Ethicist; David Williams, Harvard School of Public Health; moderated by Trymaine Lee, Correspondent, MSNBC; Podcast Host, “Into America” – Deep Dive

Wednesday, April 28, 1-3 p.m. & 4-5 p.m. ET – Hosted by John Torres, NBC News Senior Medical Correspondent, and Peggy Clark, Executive Director of the Aspen Global Innovators Group

  • Breaking the Code: CRISPR and the Gene Editing Revolution with Jennifer Doudna, Nobel Laureate; Professor in Biomedical and Health Sciences, UC Berkeley & Walter Isaacson, Professor of History, Tulane University
  • Meeting Tomorrow’s Public Health Challenges with Judy Monroe, President and CEO, CDC Foundation & Rochelle Walensky, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
  • Documenting the COVID-19 Era: The Smithsonian Museum’s Work in Progress with Alexandra Lord, Chair, Division of Medicine and Science, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
  • Strengthening Long-Term Community Health: A Health System’s Role with Thomas Priselac, President and CEO, Cedars-Sinai Health System & Rebecca Ruiz, Senior Features Writer, Mashable
  • Building a Healthier Brain at Any Age with Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN; Neurosurgeon & Maria Shriver, Founder, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, moderated by Natalie Morales, West Coast Anchor, NBC News’ “Today” and Correspondent, “Dateline NBC” 
  • Preventing the Next Pandemic with Brendan Carr, Professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System & Kenneth Davis, President and CEO, Mount Sinai Health System; Trustee, The Aspen Institute
  • From mRNA Science to Virus Vectors: Its Prime Time for Vaccine Technology with Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, Professor, Department of Microbiology; Director, Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System; Ozlem Tureci, Chief Medical Officer, BioNTech, moderated by John Torres, Senior Medical Correspondent, NBC NewsDeep Dive 

Thursday, April 29, 1-3 p.m. & 4-5 p.m. ET – Hosted by John Torres, NBC News Senior Medical Correspondent, and Ruth Katz, Executive Director of the Health, Medicine, and Society Program

  • From Variants to Vaccinations: An Update on the Pandemic with “America’s COVID-19 Doctor” with Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases & Lester Holt, Anchor and Managing Editor, “NBC Nightly News”
  • Postponing Care Amid the Crisis with Kim Keck, President and CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association & Julie Rovner, Chief Washington Correspondent, Kaiser Health News
  • R is for Resilience: Nurturing Healthy Kids During Difficult Times with Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President, US Social Impact, Sesame Workshop & Ashish Jha, Dean, Brown University School of Public Health 
  • Chef’s Special: A Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All with Bryant Terry, Chef; Author; Chef-in-Residence, San Francisco Museum of the African Diaspora & Joe Yonan, Food and Dining Editor, The Washington Post
  • Racism Is a Public Health Crisis: Reducing Inequities at the Frontlines of Care with Lisa Ling, Executive Producer and Host, “This is Life,” CNN & Michael Sneed, Executive VP of Global Corporate Affairs and Chief Communication Officer, Johnson & Johnson
  • Lessons from a Life Interrupted with Kate Bowler, Professor, Duke University; Author & Suleika Jaouad, Journalist; Author
  • No More Business as Usual: How Access and Affordability are Transforming COVID-19 Testing and Broader Healthcare with Peggy Clark, Co-Director, Aspen Ideas Health; Executive Director, Aspen Global Innovators Group, The Aspen Institute & Andrea Wainer, Executive Vice President, Rapid and Molecular Diagnostics, Abbott
  • Good Health For All: A Special Message from Dr. Tedros with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
  • The Future of US Healthcare in a Post-Covid World with Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google Health & Atul Gawande, Surgeon, Writer, and Public Health Leader – Deep Dive 

Since 2014, Aspen Ideas: Health has been the Aspen Institute’s premier event focused on global and domestic health. Traditionally, the program is held each summer as the opening segment of the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, where it is expected to return in 2022.

Editor’s Note: Members of the media are encouraged to register to attend, and also have the option to watch on the Aspen Institute’s YouTube channel. Please credit the Aspen Institute in any coverage. If your organization would like to use a recording from this event, contact Jon Purves: Join the conversation on Twitter #AspenIdeasHealth.

This year, Aspen Ideas: Health is generously supported by Abbott, BlueCross BlueShield Association, CDC Foundation, Cedars-Sinai, The Commonwealth Fund, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Mount Sinai Health System, and Pfizer.


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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