City of Cambridge Convenes COVID-19 Expert Advisory Panel


Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale appointed a COVID-19 Expert Advisory Panel that includes four Harvard experts, according to a city announcement Monday.

In a press release, Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and DePasquale wrote that the panel first met on March 24 and will continue to meet remotely as needed.

The panel — composed of eight medical and subject matter experts from Harvard, MIT and the Cambridge Health Alliance — will advise the city’s planning and response efforts to the coronavirus pandemic. Assaad J. Sayah, CEO of the Cambridge Health Alliance and Cambridge Commissioner of Public Health, will chair the group.

The Harvard-affiliated panel members come from a wide array of medical and public health specialties.


Kirby Erlandson, a Cabot House resident tutor and fourth-year joint Harvard M.D.-MBA graduate student, has a background in outbreak response. Erlandson spent two years in Liberia designing public health responses to the then-ongoing Ebola epidemic.

Harvard School of Public Health professor Paul D. Biddinger is the director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and an emergency preparedness expert.

Epidemiology professor and Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics faculty member William P. Hanage has conducted research into pathogen evolution and how it fits into understanding disease epidemiology.

Karen Byers manages the biosafety program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an affiliate teaching institute of Harvard Medical School.

The announcement of the panel comes off the heels of Cambridge’s first confirmed death due to COVID-19 complications. As of Monday, there are 78 confirmed cases in the city.

—Staff writer Simon J. Levien can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @simonjlevien.