Want to know about the future of the pandemic? Join us at Brainstorm Health 2021

April 12, 2021, 10:15 PM UTC

If you had just two days to understand the state of U.S. health care today and, somehow, get a glimpse of its future as well, who would you talk to? 

Well, the first order of business would be to make sense of the still-rumbling quake of COVID-19, with its frightening aftershocks of viral variants. Naturally, you’d want to get some insight into how the three leading vaccines were faring against emerging strains and surges, how vaccine production can continue to speed up and expand to meet the urgent global demand, and how quickly new variant-specific boosters might be made. So, you’d speed-dial Dr. Albert Bourla, the CEO of PfizerStéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, and Alex Gorsky, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson, for an impromptu tête-à-tête.

You’d bring in Karen Lynch, the CEO of CVS Health, to better understand the vaccine rollout and its various challenges. You’d call Robert Ford, the CEO of Abbott, to get up to speed on rapid-fire diagnostics, and Mike Kaufmann, CEO of giant Cardinal Health, to get a handle on the mind-numbing complexities of the global medical supply chain. You’d have to speak with Daniel O’Day, the CEO of Gilead Sciences—which makes the antiviral medication remdesivir—and Robert Bradway, the CEO of Amgen, to see what else might be in our anti-COVID medicine chest and beyond. (And, of course, you’d ask Gorsky, Bancel, and Bourla to weigh in on that, too—as well as what cancer-fighting weapons the RNA drug revolution might bring…and possibly soon.)

At the heart of our heroic, overwhelmed, and still-sometimes-lacking response to this crisis are hospital systems. So you’d be wise to spend some time with those running the leading health care centers, insurers, networks, and providers. Top on your list, no doubt, would be Gail Boudreaux, CEO of Anthem; Greg Adams, CEO of Kaiser Permanente; Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Health; Dr. Kevin Churchwell, CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital; Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, and Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, the CEO of the Mayo Clinic. 

That would be the ultimate brain trust to consult…that is, if you could possibly get them in the same room over the same two days. As part of that inquiry, you’d want to tackle head-on the infuriating lapses in our vaunted health care system—and top on that list, to be sure, are the embedded inequities in this system linked to race, ethnicity, and zip code. For some powerful insight here, you’d be fortunate to talk with Dr. Ala Stanford, founder of the Black Doctors Covid Consortium; Dr. Rachel Thorton, at the John Hopkins Center for Health Equity; and Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa, Resident Physician at the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry, among others.

Here, it would be smart as well to enlist some of the biggest and most far-reaching thinkers in academic medicine and public health. So, you’d no doubt call Dr. Lloyd Minor, Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine; Dr. Michelle Williams, Dean of the Faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Dr. Joshua Sharfstein at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and former FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

To get a sense of President Biden’s outlook on science, you would do very well to reach out to Nobel laureate Dr. Frances Arnold, the newly tapped co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. And then call Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, and beg—highlight this one on your list—Sue Siegel, longtime CEO, board member, and chief big-idea ideator, for just a few minutes of her precious time.

Health care is big business, of course—and business is what’s leading so much of the transformation in health care and medicine today. With that in mind, you will surely benefit from a cheat sheet from those driving the multiple digital revolutions in the field—from consumer-centric genomics to telemedicine to the long-held promise of AI in drug discovery. If you can, I’d recommend getting some face time with Anne Wojcicki, the CEO of 23andMe; superstar investor Vinod Khosla, the founder of his eponymous Khosla Ventures; Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer at Google; Dr. Arif Nathoo, Co-Founder and CEO, Komodo Health; Dr. Dario Gil, director of IBM Research; and his corporate compatriot, Dr. Gretchen Jackson, Chief Science Officer at IBM Watson Health. And to tie up all of this insight with a bow, you might hope for a few minutes with Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture and corporate sensei for digital transformation.

Perhaps even more, you’ll crave an understanding of how you, yourself, can become healthier and more resilient in the midst of all of these physical, mental, and emotional challenges. For that, you might seek wisdom in music, through the guidance of Wynton Marsalis—or strength in the miracle of second chances, as United Airlines’ Executive Chairman Oscar Munoz, who underwent a heart transplant, can share. Or maybe what you want most are tips on surviving Zoomageddon, which you can get from Zoom CEO Eric Yuan.

It’s a crazy wish list of expertise to try and tap into over just two days. But I’m pleased—and somewhat amazed—to say that every one of the leaders above (and many more) will be at the sixth annual (and virtual) FORTUNE Brainstorm Health on April 27th and 28thwhich you can sign up for here.

It’s a phenomenal opportunity to share in the wisdom and insider perspective of those who are now leading America’s health care system and building the future one. Capsule subscribers get a 50% discount on registration. Use this code at registration: BSH21FIFTY.

I hope you’ll join my FORTUNE Brainstorm Health co-chairsDr. David B. Agus, CEO of USC’s Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine, and Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global—and me for what promises to be a powerful and unforgettable two days.

Clifton Leaf
Editor-in-Chief, Fortune
Co-chair, FORTUNE Brainstorm Health


Big tech flexes its muscles on data privacy in the COVID era. My colleague David Meyer relays how big tech companies such as Apple and Google are challenging the U.K. government when it comes to software updates on COVID contact tracing software because the firms believe this specific update would lead to the ability to collect private location data. "Specifically, the update would have encouraged the COVID-19 app's infected users to upload a history of the venues they have visited, so other visitors to those restaurants and shops could then be advised to book a test if multiple people at one of those places tested positive for the coronavirus," David writes. (Fortune)


Regeneron to seek FDA authorization for COVID antibody drug. Pharma giant Regeneron said that late-stage trials of an antibody cocktail to prevent the worst effects of COVID-19 is also effective at preventing symptoms of the disease in those living with someone with a known infection, and thus susceptible to exposure, with just a single dose. The company will be seeking FDA emergency authorization to expand the use of this drug cocktail, which is already authorized in the U.S. for those with mild-to-moderate COVID symptoms. This is the classic drug development playbook and just how the system works - make a drug, get an approval, and then carve out bigger and bigger spaces in the market as more clinical data comes in. (CNN


The former CDC director's new gig. Robert Redfield, a veteran virologist who served as former President Trump's CDC director, is taking on a new role as strategic health and safety advisor for Big Ass Fans' Clean Air Systems. The firm creates both personalized and industrial fan and ventilation systems with some pretty interesting technology, including UV tech that can ostensibly help kill pathogens such as the coronavirus. Figures that they'd want an expert such as Redfield to advise on infectious disease issues. (Fortune)


The 100 Best Companies to work for 2021by Fortune Editors

3 ways the best companies to work for helped employees endureby Emma Hinchliffe

Spring is in the air as IPOs pick up in Europeby Sophie Mellor

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet