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Grand Challenges: Pandemic Readiness Initiative (PRI)

Grant Type: Impact Award
Topics: Global Health, Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery

Grand Challenges Grants Program


Since 2020, the world has been impacted by a devastating pandemic, leaving millions of people dead. COVID-19 revealed failed communication, inequitable impacts, and the lack of a proactive and coordinated response that was evidence-based. The pandemic further revealed that, although system-level responses and resources are necessary, we also need to understand human behaviors in public health emergencies. Social and behavioral science research can provide this knowledge for action.

The new Pandemic Readiness Initiative (PRI) integrates a broad array of social and behavioral sciences to learn from COVID-19 and other disasters to better prepare for future public health emergencies. Our faculty are experts in public health and risk communication, health literacy, health equity, social media and other digital technologies, public opinion, cognitive processing of messages, disaster management, and cultural studies. Faculty use traditional quantitative and qualitative social science methods and cutting-edge data science techniques. Animated by core principles of health equity and community engagement, the team promotes educational opportunities for students, faculty, and practitioners across diverse fields.

Team Members:

PI: Cynthia Baur (SPHL), Endowed Chair and Director, Horowitz Center for Health Literacy

PI: Brooke Fisher Liu (ARHU), Professor, Communication

Sandra Quinn (SPHL), Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Science

Stephen B. Thomas (SPHL), Professor, Health Policy and Management and Director, Center for Health Equity

Carina Zelaya (ARHU), Assistant Professor, Communication

Anita Atwell Seate (ARHU), Associate Professor, Communication

Christina Getrich (BSOS), Associate Professor, Anthropology

Ernesto Calvo (BSOS), Professor, Government and Politics

Michael Dougherty (BSOS), Chair and Professor, Psychology

Sarah Mcgrew (EDUC), Assistant Professor, Teaching and Learning, Policy, and Leadership

Naeemul Hassan (JOUR), Assistant Professor, Journalism

Cody Buntain (INFO), Assistant Professor, Information Studies

Beth St. Jean (INFO), Associate Professor, Information Studies


  • Center for Health and Homeland Security, UMB
  • Center for Health Security, Johns Hopkins University
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