Katelyn Jetelina Awarded Axelrod Prize in Public Health

Dr. Jetelina wears the Axelrod Prize medal and stands at the podium to give her lecture.
Photo courtesy Patrick Dodson

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 16, 2024) -- On April 11, 2024, the University at Albany School of Public Health awarded epidemiologist and science communicator Katelyn Jetelina the 2024 Axelrod Prize in Public Health, which recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of public health at the intersection of academia and government service at the local, state or federal level. 

Work at the intersection of academia and government is important to the University at Albany School of Public Health, founded in partnership by the New York State Department of Health and the University at Albany. Named after David Axelrod— former health commissioner and co-founder of the school— the award is given to one public health professional each year after nominations come in from across the country. Nominations are reviewed based on their vision for collaboration between academia and government, the impact of their contributions, and the role the contributions have played in reducing health disparities. 

Jetelina is the creator of the popular public health newsletter “Your Local Epidemiologist,” which ‘translates’ public health information for local, national and international communities. During the pandemic, the newsletter—with over 200,000 subscribers and 300 million views— covered COVID-19 topics like variants, vaccines, booster rollouts, new developments like antivirals, and more. In addition, Jetelina co-founded the Health Trust Initiative and is a senior scientific advisor to several government and non-profit agencies, including the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Resolve to Save Lives. She has received numerous national awards, including National Academies of Science and a medal of honor from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. 

“It was a privilege and honor to award Dr. Jetelina the Axelrod Prize in Public Health,” says Erin Bell, interim dean of the School of Public Health. “This prize provides a wonderful opportunity for our faculty, staff, students and colleagues to engage with nationally renowned researchers and to learn from them as we work together to improve public health.” 

Jetelina visited the University at Albany on April 11, 2024 to receive the Axelrod Prize medal and to give a lecture entitled “Reimagining Public Health Communication for the 21st century: A vision for the changing landscape”. 

"Trust in public health is declining, while capabilities to spread misinformation are growing stronger. If these trends continue, the ramifications to human health and communities will be dramatic, far-reaching, and increasingly deadly,” Jetelina explained, and walked the audience through how to reduce the communication gap between public health professionals and communities, along with how to deliver public health information more effectively. 

“It was so inspirational to meet a strong and powerful woman in the public health field who has experience in so many areas of public health,” says second-year Master of Public Health student Emily Huff. "She talked with us students about different aspects of her career, and she's done it all— communications, Covid-19, measles, working with the CDC... She really motivated me to embrace my passions and go for it!”

Nominations for the 2025 Axelrod Prize in Public Health will open in July 2024.