Q: What is your role at USAID (United States Agency for International Development)?
A: I’m a Policy and Innovative Financing Advisor at USAID. In this capacity, I explore ways of using innovative financing mechanisms to accelerate the development, introduction and access to life-saving commodities, and to catalyze private investment into the global health sector. As an example, I most recently helped design and launch an Advance Purchase Commitment (APC) for Zika diagnostics, in partnership with UNICEF. The purpose of mechanisms like APC’s is to help incentivize private companies to invest in the development of urgently needed global health commodities that they might not otherwise prioritize. In this case, the APC will de-risk a manufacturer’s R&D investment in a point-of-care Zika diagnostic by guaranteeing the purchase of a certain quantity of this product.
Q: What did you study?
I did my BA (Economics, Community Health) from Tufts University and MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics) from The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE))
Q: How did you end up at USAID?
A: I have always been interested in health and development but my career trajectory wasn’t quite the straight line I expected between my interest in global health and working in global health. I actually started working on domestic health policy at the RAND Corporation and then moved to London to work for the British pharmaceutical trade association. My work visa was expiring and I was contemplating moving back to the States so I started looking at jobs in D.C. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular but came across a job posting for an innovative financing position at USAID. I remember reading the job description and thinking that this job was the perfect blend of my experience to date and my interest in global health. I applied, and the rest is history.
Q: What makes you passionate about your job?
A: I’m passionate about my job when I see how much this space has matured and grown over the past few years. When I first joined USAID, I would sit on panels and attend meetings that would involve donors sitting around the table talking about innovative financing and global health. Now, I attend these same meetings and they also involve investors and private companies talking about what we can do together. This shift has opened up so many new opportunities–this is what gets me out of bed every morning.
Q: What topic(s) in global health interest(s) you the most and why?
A: I’m most interested in market incentives for global health R&D. I love being able to apply economic and business principles and solutions to solve such a critical global health challenge. I find this topic incredibly satisfying from an intellectual standpoint, but most importantly, the results can be game-changing in terms of health impact.