New book by Laura Kahn examines leadership during public health crises
Laura Kahn, a physician and research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School's Program on Science and Global Security, has authored the book, Who's In Charge?: Leadership during Epidemics, Bioterror Attacks, and Other Public Health Crises (Praeger, 2009).
Kahn argues that an imminent threat to the public health, such as the global H1N1/swine flu outbreak, is no time for a muddled chain of command and contradictory decision-making. “Who's In Charge?” explores the crucial relationships between political leaders, public health officials, journalists, and others to see why leadership problems occur during public health emergencies.
In the book the author examines the overarching issues of leadership, public health administration, and the threats of bioterrorism. In addition, Kahn further investigates five recent public health emergencies—the 2001 anthrax attacks and 1993 cryptosporidium outbreak in the United States, the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease crisis, and the decade-long battle against Mad Cow Disease in the U.K.
Kahn unravels how each event developed step-by-step and pinpoints specific leadership problems and issues that emerged. She presents official reports, medical literature, first-person accounts from officials and journalists, and discussions of the role of law enforcement and the military during health care emergencies.
A general internist who began her career in health care as a registered nurse, Kahn’s expertise is in public health, biodefense, and pandemics. From 2003-2005, she led a study that assessed the public health infrastructures and readiness of the states of New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. She has also co-organized the Carnegie Corporation’s "Biodefense Challenge" seminar series, which introduces biosecurity, codes of conduct, and dual-use biotech threats to the life sciences community. Prior to joining Princeton, she was a managing physician for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and a medical officer for the Food and Drug Administration.
Kahn holds a degree in nursing from UCLA, an M.D. from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, a Master of Public Health from Columbia University and a Master of Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians.