Events / The Future of Public Health: A conversation with Rochelle Walensky, MD and William Powderly, MD

The Future of Public Health: A conversation with Rochelle Walensky, MD and William Powderly, MD

April 11, 2024
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Graham Chapel, Danforth Campus

Registration is still open. We will open Graham Chapel to attendees at 11:30 a.m. and start the event at noon.

Throughout their careers, Rochelle Walensky, MD, and William Powderly, MD, have contributed meaningful research on HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. There are numerous parallels in their careers – from teaching to research to leading public health institutions and associations. At the intersection of their work is a fundamental commitment to creating public health practice and policy that provides equitable access to care.

Rochelle Walensky is honored to share her perspective on the future of public health, the most pressing public health issues facing us today, and the transdisciplinary approach in higher education, scientific research, and community engagement that will be needed to guide our public health nationally and globally. 

In the fall of 2024, WashU’s college of Arts & Sciences will launch a minor and a major in Public Health and Society. At a time of a rapidly shifting public health landscape, WashU students, faculty, researchers, health practitioners, and the general public have a rare opportunity to hear from these renown leaders about the future challenges facing the public health community, and the opportunities we have to address them.

This event is presented in service of Public Health at WashU and supported by Arts & Sciences and the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis.


This event will take place in Graham Chapel on the WashU Danforth Campus. This event is free to attend. However, registration is required.

You will need to bring proof of registration or a WashU ID to this event. A confirmation email, which can serve as proof of registration, will be sent prior to the event.

Directions & parking

We recommend that visitors park in the Danforth University Center (DUC) Garage located under the Danforth University Center. Exit out of the DUC toward Mudd Field. Graham Chapel is east of the DUC.

For GPS mapping, use the address for the Danforth University Center: 6475 Forsyth Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63105.


If you have any accessibility needs, please contact Emily Hickner at We need to be notified at least five business days prior to the event to guarantee accommodation for interpretation and CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) services.

About the speakers

Rochelle Walensky, MD

Rochelle Walensky served as the 19th Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2021-23, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School from 2012-2021, and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital from 2017-2021. Rochelle Walensky is an infectious disease clinician whose research career is guided by a belief that the clinical and economic outcomes of medical decisions can be improved through the explicit articulation of choices, the systematic assembly of evidence, and the careful assessment of comparative costs and benefits. She has focused these beliefs on mathematical model-based research toward the promotion of global access to HIV prevention, screening, and care. Her ground-breaking work and over 300 research publications have motivated changes to U.S. HIV testing and immigration policy; promoted expanded funding for HIV-related research, treatment, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPfAR); and led to policy revisions toward aggressive HIV screening – especially for the underserved – and earlier treatment in resource-limited international settings.  In light of these contributions, Walensky has been an active member of policy discussions at the WHO, UNAIDS, the DHHS HIV Guidelines Committee, and the NIH Office of AIDS Research. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. 

Walensky served on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts until beginning her tenure at the CDC on January 20, 2021.  While at the CDC, Dr. Walensky led the nation – and the world – through unprecedented times, navigating the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic and further facing the largest density of diverse infectious threats likely ever seen in this country. During her tenure, she participated in nearly 100 press conferences and countless media appearances, and provided testimony at 17 Congressional hearings.  

Walensky received her BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, her MD from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health.  She completed her Internal Medicine residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and her Infectious Disease fellowship at the Massachusetts General/Brigham and Women’s Hospital combined program. 

William Powderly, MD

William Powderly is the Dr. J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine and co-Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases. He is also the Larry J. Shapiro Director of the Institute for Public Health, Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Science and Director of the Institute of Clinical and Translational Science at Washington University. As co-director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, William Powderly oversees the clinical operations, educational programs and clinical and translational research of the Division.

From 2005 to 2012, he was Dean of Medicine and Head of the School of Medicine at University College Dublin in Ireland.

Powderly has been actively involved in HIV-related clinical research for over thirty years with specific interests in opportunistic infections, metabolic complications and long-term outcomes of antiretroviral therapy. He is a former President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He attends on the ID consult service teaching fellows, residents, and students. He is the author of over 400 original manuscripts, reviews and book chapters. 

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians In Ireland, the Royal College of Physicians (London) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was, in 2017, President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.