The University of Toledo’s next virtual town hall discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic will feature Dr. Matthew Hepburn, a highly regarded infectious diseases physician who played a key role in the U.S. government’s efforts to accelerate the development of safe, effective vaccines against the virus.
The free, public event will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20, via Webex. Registration is required.
Hepburn, a retired U.S. Army colonel, served as vaccine lead for what was then known as Operation Warp Speed. His final Army assignment over his 23-year career was as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.
At the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Hepburn implemented numerous breakthrough investment programs to prepare for the current pandemic. These investments led to improved infectious diseases forecasting, better diagnostics and medical care in resource-limited settings and development of vaccine and therapeutic products.
“Dr. Hepburn is a national treasure,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences and executive vice president for clinical affairs.
“He has a long track record in cutting-edge approaches to infectious diseases for the Department of Defense and now for our nation,” Cooper said. “He is on the front lines of our national response, and we have much to learn from him and his colleagues.”
“I’m honored and thrilled to be part of this discussion and share my experiences working to help deliver vaccines to all Americans,” Hepburn said.
Hepburn will be joined on the panel by Cooper; Dr. Joan Duggan, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Toledo Medical Center and professor of medicine; Dr. Jason Huntley, an associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology; and Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.
“The incredible efforts to develop, manufacture and deliver the COVID-19 vaccine has been a continued practice in working together with a whole-of-government approach and making decisions founded in science,” Hepburn said.
Topics are expected to include recent findings about the effect of COVID-19 and its vaccines on cardiovascular health and the outlook for the virus both locally and nationally.
Panelists also will field questions from community members in attendance.
“We have made unbelievable progress in the fight against COVID, but our community is not yet completely safe from the virus,” Cooper said. “The delta variant now represents more than 50% of cases in the U.S. and unvaccinated people continue to get sick. It’s important the University continue fostering conversations with leading experts to keep our community moving forward and finish what we have started.”
The town hall is the sixth in an ongoing series of COVID-19 discussions hosted by The University of Toledo Foundation.