Harvard epidemiologist Michael J. Mina — whose snippets of medical advice on Twitter throughout the pandemic have captivated hundreds of thousands — is leaving academia for a leadership position at biotech software company eMed.
Mina resigned from his faculty positions at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as at the Harvard Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, on Nov. 12. He is beginning his new role as Chief Science Officer at eMed Thursday, the company announced in a press release.
Beginning July 2019, Mina served as an Epidemiology and Immunology and Infectious Diseases assistant professor at HSPH and an associate medical director in clinical microbiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
HSPH Epidemiology chair Albert Hofman first announced Mina’s departure to department faculty in a Monday email, though he provided no further information about the sudden move.
Mina — who has been a major proponent of the usage of at-home Covid-19 antigen tests — said in an interview he was drawn to the equity-driven mission of eMed, a company that provides at-home medical testing and interpretation guides for diagnostic results.
“One of the things that really excites me about this new position is I can start thinking of all the new ways that we can bring public health and medicine to become much more accessible to people,” Mina said.
He also pointed to the company’s potential in increasing the speed by which patients receive care, thus maximizing treatment benefits for individuals. With Covid-19 antiviral drugs, in particular, their effectiveness wanes within a few days after symptoms arise, making rapid testing all the more important.
“Essentially the moment they have symptoms — if they use this verified, authenticated test, and they can get a prescription immediately — then we can reduce the time from symptom onset to treatment to 12 hours instead of five days and really gain massively from these drugs,” Mina said.
According to Mina, convenient access to medical testing at home is integral to a deeper understanding of personal health needs.
“What I hope to do in this position is to really change the way that we think about how health care has to be performed,” Mina said. “Frequently, it’s been gated by physicians — for good reason — but I also feel very passionately that people should have a right to know about their body.”
Mina said his work at eMed will focus on expanding eMed’s research efforts and promoting equity in recruitment of individuals into the company’s national clinical trials.
He added that his transition from academia to the biomedical industry stemmed from his desire to break through what he sees as “antagonism” between the two fields, in order to help generate advancements in public health and medicine.
“I felt like my hands were tied quite frequently during this pandemic in terms of the actionable effort professors can really take on,” Mina said. “The reality is if we want to create thought pieces and have thought leadership in public health or in medicine, and if we ever want that to go anywhere and become useful, then it requires industry to bring that to life.”
—Staff writer Anjeli R. Macaranas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.