Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

Soumya Swaminathan - Chairperson, Board of Trustees, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

Chairperson, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)

Soumya Swaminathan was most recently WHO's Chief Scientist and before that, Deputy Director-General for Programmes. Returning to India, she took over as Chairperson of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in February 2023.

A paediatrician from India and a globally recognised researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she brings with her 40 years of experience in clinical care and research and has worked throughout her career to translate research into impactful programmes. Dr Swaminathan was Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research from 2015 to 2017. In that position, she focused on bringing science and evidence into health policy-making, building research capacity in Indian medical schools, and forging south-south partnerships in health sciences. From 2009 to 2011, she also served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva.

She received her academic training in India, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and has published more than 480 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. She is a Fellow of the US National Academy of Medicine, the Academy of Medical Sciences of the UK and a Fellow of all the science academies in India. She has received several honorary doctorates, including from Karolinska institute, EPFL, Lausanne and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. She serves on several national and global advisory bodies and committees. She is an adjunct Professor at Karolinska university in Sweden and Tufts university in Boston, USA.

She is a Board Member of the Alliance Bioversity, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), FIND, Population Foundation of India and others. She is also a Governing Council Member of the Tamil Nadu Climate Change Mission and Chair of ICMR’s Scientific Advisory Board.

As WHO’s inaugural Chief Scientist, Dr Swaminathan built the Science division with a focus on research, quality assurance of norms and standards and digital health. She played a key role during the pandemic in coordinating scientific efforts at the WHO, as well as in setting up Covax, with a focus on equitable vaccine distribution to Low and Middle Income Countries.

All Sessions by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

10:25 am - 11:25 am
Auditorium (Selous)

Panel: Women’s Leadership and Health, Gender & Climate Change

In recent years, record-setting extreme heat, wildfires, floods, and disease outbreaks worsened by global warming have made clear how urgently action is needed to slow climate change and adapt to the related health impacts. This panel will spotlight issues at the nexus of climate, health and gender through the lens of women’s leadership, highlighting how women, especially indigenous women and women in the global south, are already leading frontline efforts to implement local solutions for adaptation and resilience. It will also delve into the role of women as leaders and active participants in decision-making and implementation, and explore how all people can collaborate to enable and scale the climate and health solutions our world so desperately needs.

Moderator: Dr. Yvonne Maingey-Muriuki, Founder and Technical Advisor, Panim Holdings

1. Dr. Debisi Araba, Public policy, innovation and strategy specialist
2. Sareen Malik, Executive Secretary, African Civil Society Network for Water and Sanitation (ANEW)
3. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chairperson, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)