Lurie's job is to plan for the unthinkable. A global flu pandemic? She has a plan. A bioterror attack? She's on it. Massive earthquake? Yep. Her responsibilities as assistant secretary span public health, global health, and homeland security. That means a lot of coordination with her colleagues at HHS, as well as state and local officials and other federal agencies. It also means a mission that includes both science and communications strategy. In the digital age, she is working to improve the department's data capabilities—the better to know who lives in a given community when disaster strikes—and its ability to harness social media to deliver messages about how to stay safe. "Both the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge is to build communities that are more resilient to the types of challenges that come their way," she says. Lurie, 60, is from Connecticut and lives in Maryland with her husband. She's a fitness buff, generally carving time out of her afternoons to run, skate, or practice yoga. Her undergraduate and medical-school degrees both come from the University of Pennsylvania, and she holds a master's degree in public health from UCLA. Lurie keeps her clinical skills sharp by volunteering every week in a community clinic, where she also teaches medical students and residents.
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