- 1. Dr. Anthony FauciDirector, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force1. Dr. Anthony FauciDirector, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force
The tragic coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed the world may have made public-health authorities into household names, but Dr. Anthony Fauci was recognized as the country’s leading champion of sound public-health advice long before the current outbreak.
- 2. Jacinda ArdernPrime Minister of New Zealand2. Jacinda ArdernPrime Minister of New Zealand
New Zealand has been praised for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership, New Zealand has had fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita than most nations, and a brief period completely virus-free.
- 3. Dr. Deborah BirxCoronavirus response coordinator, White House Coronavirus Task Force3. Dr. Deborah BirxCoronavirus response coordinator, White House Coronavirus Task Force
Science has been a cornerstone of Dr. Deborah Birx’s life since she ran astronomy and biology experiments with her brothers in the shed behind their Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home growing up.
- 4. Dr. Scott GottliebResident fellow, American Enterprise Institute4. Dr. Scott GottliebResident fellow, American Enterprise Institute
In a year that will likely be remembered for medical misinformation and the proliferation of science-deniers, Dr. Scott Gottlieb continues to stand out as one of the clearest and most direct communicators of all things health-related.
- 5. Bill GatesBusiness magnate and philanthropist5. Bill GatesBusiness magnate and philanthropist
"We’re not ready for the next pandemic.”
That was the headline of a blog post written by technology mogul and infectious disease-focused philanthropist Bill Gates, not in 2020 as the U.S. struggled to respond to COVID-19, but in March 2015, nearly five years to the day before American life shut down.
- 6. Ken FrazierChairman and CEO, Merck6. Ken FrazierChairman and CEO, Merck
Ken Frazier is one of only four Black CEOs in the Fortune 500. He is also the first Black executive to run a major global pharmaceutical company.
- 7. Bonnie CastilloExecutive director, National Nurses United7. Bonnie CastilloExecutive director, National Nurses United
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bonnie Castillo was among the first to sound an alarm about the need to be properly prepared for a surge in cases. But while Castillo has fought for nurses over her entire career — she’s a registered nurse herself — 2020 proved her greatest battle.
- 8. Dr. Michelle WilliamsDean of the faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health8. Dr. Michelle WilliamsDean of the faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
The coronavirus pandemic has brought long-standing health inequities to the fore, from access issues to racial disparities. And as frontline clinicians tend to COVID’s acute-care cases, public-health advocates such as Dr. Michelle Williams are having a moment.
- 9. Dr. Tedros Adhanom GhebreyesusDirector-general, World Health Organization9. Dr. Tedros Adhanom GhebreyesusDirector-general, World Health Organization
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ career is marked by firsts. The Ethiopian biologist and public health researcher is the first African director-general of the World Health Organization and the first director-general who is not a medical doctor.
- 10. Dr. Robert RedfieldDirector, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention10. Dr. Robert RedfieldDirector, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Robert Redfield has steered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the most tumultuous year in its 74-year existence. It hasn’t been easy.
- 11. Dr. Ala StanfordFounder, Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium11. Dr. Ala StanfordFounder, Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium
COVID-19 disproportionately infects and kills Black Americans because they’re more likely to be poor, have chronic conditions, live in crowded spaces, have jobs that expose them to the virus and, especially, because of testing limitations.
- 12. Andy SlavittBoard Chair, United States of Care12. Andy SlavittBoard Chair, United States of Care
Most weeknights at around 9 p.m. ET, former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services acting administrator Dr. Andy Slavitt unleashes his daily tweetstorm. Alternately funny, thoughtful and furious, the dispatches tackle the COVID crisis from any number of angles: the leadership vacuum, the cascading economic effects on older people (whether or not they fall ill), the psychological/PTSD crisis likely to linger long after vaccines have been administered.
- 13. Dr. Uché BlackstockFounder and CEO, Advancing Health Equity13. Dr. Uché BlackstockFounder and CEO, Advancing Health Equity
As a Harvard-educated physician specializing in emergency medicine, Dr. Uché Blackstock could have punched her own ticket.
- 14. Dr. Jerome AdamsSurgeon General of the U.S.14. Dr. Jerome AdamsSurgeon General of the U.S.
By virtue of holding the post of Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams automatically ranks among the most dominant voices for public health in the country. However, what has distinguished Adams’ tenure in the role is the thoughtful way he has wielded this influence.
- 15. Andrew CuomoGovernor of New York15. Andrew CuomoGovernor of New York
One curious development during the coronavirus pandemic has been the reinvention of the reputation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
- 16. Seema VermaAdministrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)16. Seema VermaAdministrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Few if anyone in the Trump administration has the spending power of Seema Verma. The administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services oversees a budget of $1 trillion, or more than one-quarter of federal government spending, for coverage programs for more than 130 million Americans.
- 17. Dr. David FeinbergVP, Google Health17. Dr. David FeinbergVP, Google Health
Dr. David Feinberg is a health industry vet, having served as CEO of hospital network Geisinger Health before joining Google Health in 2018.
- 18. Dr. Esther ChooAssociate professor, Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University18. Dr. Esther ChooAssociate professor, Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University
ER physicians have emerged as the tip of the spear for many of society’s worst problems, and none wield that weapon quite like Dr. Esther Choo.
- 19. Dr. John WhyteChief medical officer, WebMD19. Dr. John WhyteChief medical officer, WebMD
WebMD’s Dr. John Whyte does not proclaim to be a seer. At the same time, he was one of the few experts who anticipated the “infodemic” that would coincide with the coronavirus pandemic.
- 20. Jacob SchickCEO, 22Kill
- 21. Zeynep TufekciAssociate professor, University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science21. Zeynep TufekciAssociate professor, University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in January that Americans didn’t need to wear masks to prevent them from the novel coronavirus that was ravaging China, Zeynep Tufekci was skeptical.
- 22. Stacey GrierSVP, chief marketing and strategy officer, Clorox22. Stacey GrierSVP, chief marketing and strategy officer, Clorox
After joining Clorox in January of 2019, Stacey Grier’s status as its first female CMO meant the ad trades wanted her take on industry-wide issues, such as Clorox’s decision to join the Facebook advertising ban.
- 23. Gretchen WhitmerGovernor of Michigan23. Gretchen WhitmerGovernor of Michigan
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer had just been given one of the highest-profile spots in her party in February: delivering the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
- 24. Dr. Rose Marie LeslieFamily medicine resident, University of Minnesota Physicians24. Dr. Rose Marie LeslieFamily medicine resident, University of Minnesota Physicians
Doctors as social media influencers is a rapidly growing niche — and few play the game as well as Dr. Rose Marie Leslie.
- 25. Tom Hanks and Rita WilsonCOVID-19 celebrity patients zero25. Tom Hanks and Rita WilsonCOVID-19 celebrity patients zero
It was on the night of Wednesday, March 12, that COVID-19 got real for many Americans. And it had little to do with a presidential address from the Oval Office that, per The New York Times, contained “surprising —and significant — inaccuracies” about the burgeoning crisis.
- 26. Lidia FonsecaEVP, chief digital and technology officer, Pfizer26. Lidia FonsecaEVP, chief digital and technology officer, Pfizer
Think you’ve got a big job? Lidia Fonseca’s role at Pfizer tasks her with setting and overseeing digital strategy for the venerable 170-year-old drugmaker. Recent successes include the identification of digital tools to help employees work more efficiently and to encourage collaboration among the company’s thousands of scientists.
- 27. Jack DorseyCEO, Twitter27. Jack DorseyCEO, Twitter
Twitter’s outsized role during COVID-19 is simultaneously absurd and expected. Known for hot takes, insults and character limits, Twitter hardly seems suitable for comms during an international pandemic.
- 28. Dr. Mona Hanna-AttishaFounder and director, Michigan State University Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative28. Dr. Mona Hanna-AttishaFounder and director, Michigan State University Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, commonly known as Dr. Mona, has advocacy in her blood. Born in Sheffield, England, her parents were Iraqi scientists and dissidents who fled Saddam Hussein’s regime before eventually settling in Michigan. A pediatrician, public health advocate and professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Hanna-Attisha caused a public outcry when she exposed the Flint, Michigan, water crisis in 2015.
- 29. Jim WeissFounder and CEO, W2O29. Jim WeissFounder and CEO, W2O
Following a year in which W2O expanded via several high-profile acquisitions and saw revenue breach the $200 million plateau, Weiss and his team turned its attention to — what else? — COVID-19.
- 30. Dr. Sanjay GuptaChief medical correspondent, CNN30. Dr. Sanjay GuptaChief medical correspondent, CNN
As one of the most recognizable and respected faces in the medical community, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been addressing COVID-19 since the beginning.
- 31. Kym WhiteSVP and chief comms officer, CVS Health
- 32. Drew AltmanPresident and CEO, Kaiser Family Foundation32. Drew AltmanPresident and CEO, Kaiser Family Foundation
As he alternately covered and commented upon the nation’s descent into pandemic devastation, Kaiser Family Foundation leader Drew Altman minced few words.
- 33. Dr. Amy ActonDirector, KIND Columbus33. Dr. Amy ActonDirector, KIND Columbus
While many were surprised by the state of Ohio’s fast, proactive response to the arrival of COVID-19, those who know Dr. Amy Acton certainly weren’t.
- 34. Alex GorskyCEO, Johnson & Johnson
- 35. Dr. Jennifer DoudnaProfessor of biochemistry and molecular biology, University of California at Berkeley35. Dr. Jennifer DoudnaProfessor of biochemistry and molecular biology, University of California at Berkeley
Biochemist Jennifer Doudna sprang to international renown in 2012 when she and French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier proposed that CRISPR-Cas9 enzymes, a kind of bacterial immune system, were also a highly programmable tool for manipulating DNA.
- 36. Ed YongAuthor and science writer, The Atlantic
- 37. Kenneth ColeDesigner, founder of Mental Health Coalition37. Kenneth ColeDesigner, founder of Mental Health Coalition
Kenneth Cole has been using his platform as a fashion designer to promote social issues for more than 30 years. Not a stranger to controversy, Cole has created catchy slogans and raised millions to support AIDS research, homelessness, global warming and same-sex marriage.
- 38. Kirsten GorsuchChief comms officer, UnitedHealthcare38. Kirsten GorsuchChief comms officer, UnitedHealthcare
As CCO for the world’s biggest healthcare company by revenue, UnitedHealthcare’s Kirsten Gorsuch is by default a healthcare comms influencer.
- 39. Ray JordanChief corporate affairs officer, Moderna39. Ray JordanChief corporate affairs officer, Moderna
Moderna, one of the pharmaceutical companies working on a potential COVID-19 vaccine, hired Ray Jordan in June, but he was consulting for Moderna four months before he joined the company.
- 40. Dr. Peter BachDirector, Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center40. Dr. Peter BachDirector, Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Peter Bach, a physician and epidemiologist, directs the Drug Pricing Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
- 41. Dr. Eric TopolEditor-in-chief, Medscape and EVP, Scripps Research41. Dr. Eric TopolEditor-in-chief, Medscape and EVP, Scripps Research
Dr. Eric Topol is best known for his research, which includes a whopping 1,200 peer-reviewed articles and more than 250,000 citations. This places him on the list of the top 10 most-cited researchers in medicine.
- 42. Leerom SegalChairman and cofounder, Klick Health
- 43. Dr. Juan RiveraChief medical correspondent, Univision43. Dr. Juan RiveraChief medical correspondent, Univision
A cardiologist and a longtime advocate of heart health, Dr. Juan Rivera has brought his expertise to bear as a leading voice for underserved Hispanic communities. In doing so, he became one of the country’s most trusted medical professionals.
- 44. Demi Lovato and Chyler LeighPerformers/advocates, Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health44. Demi Lovato and Chyler LeighPerformers/advocates, Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health
Singer Demi Lovato and actress Chyler Leigh came together over the last year to throw their influence behind the Be Vocal initiative, which encourages individuals to share their struggles with mental health.
- 45. Michael DowlingCEO, Northwell Health45. Michael DowlingCEO, Northwell Health
Michael Dowling worked in U.K. steel mills and on the New York docks, at Blue Cross Blue Shield and as director of New York’s Health, Education and Human Services.
- 46. Dr. Peter HotezDean, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine46. Dr. Peter HotezDean, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, few faces were as familiar on cable news than Dr. Peter Hotez. In 2017, Fortune named Hotez among the 34 leaders who are changing healthcare, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing.
- 47. Donald McNeil Jr.Science and health reporter, the New York Times47. Donald McNeil Jr.Science and health reporter, the New York Times
Donald McNeil Jr. has spent decades covering plagues, among them AIDS, Ebola, malaria and SARS. Often, he has done so from the angle of the hundreds of millions of poor people most impacted.
- 48. Jeff OlsonVP of corporate communications, Rite Aid48. Jeff OlsonVP of corporate communications, Rite Aid
Jeff Olson joined Rite Aid as comms head in April, shortly after Heyward Donigan was named Rite Aid’s CEO and Jim Peters was selected as COO.
- 49. Devi SridharProfessor and chair of global public health, founding director of Global Health Governance Programme, Edinburgh University49. Devi SridharProfessor and chair of global public health, founding director of Global Health Governance Programme, Edinburgh University
With her strong academic pedigree and willingness to enter the fray, Devi Sridhar has become a popular gladiator in the COVID-19 info wars.
- 50. Charli D’AmelioTikTok star