Jay K. Varma, MD

Senior Advisor for Public Health, NYC Office of the Mayor

Jay K. Varma, MD is a world-renowned expert on the prevention and control of diseases, having led epidemic responses, developed global and national policies, and led large-scale programs that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the United States. At the height of the coronavirus epidemic, Dr. Varma was based at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he led conception and development of the African continent’s first public health agency (Africa CDC). Dr. Varma authored the African continent’s strategy for COVID-19 response and policies on community social distancing measures, quarantine and monitoring, and clinical management of COVID-19, which have been credited with helping avert large-scale illnesses and deaths. Recruited by the Mayor of New York at the peak of the epidemic, Dr. Varma has served since April 2020 as the principal scientific spokesperson and architect for New York City’s COVID-19 pandemic response, including the largest diagnostic testing and contact tracing programs in the country, the phased re-opening of businesses, and the health policies and practices for the safe re-opening of the largest public school system in the country.

After graduating magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard, Dr. Varma completed medical school, internal medicine residency, and chief residency at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. From 2001-2019, he worked on infectious diseases prevention and control for US CDC with postings in Atlanta, Thailand, China, Ethiopia, and New York City.  Dr. Varma has authored 140 scientific manuscripts, six essays, and one book. He has been recognized as the US Public Health Service Physician Researcher of the Year (2010) and Physician Leader of the Year (2017), and has received the two highest awards in the US Public Health Service (Distinguished Service Medal, 2011; Meritorious Service Medal, 2018).

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