KSOM Dept of PopPublicHS_1 lineWhtGold

COVID-19 Pandemic Research Center (CPRC)


Frank Gilliland, M.D., MPH, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator and Director

Dr. Gilliland is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at USC. He is an epidemiologist and physician-scientist whose clinical expertise, in conjunction with his decades of occupational, environmental, and population health research experience, have been instrumental in formulating and implementing pulmonary research directions and initiatives at USC and internationally.

Jennifer Unger, Ph.D.

Co Principal Investigator, Co-Director and Leader, Survey Research Group

Dr.Unger is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at USC. She has conducted population-based survey research in California for the past 25 years. She has served as PI or Co-I on several large-scale school-based and community-based etiology and intervention studies of health behaviors among diverse populations, including a 10-year NIDA- funded longitudinal cohort study of the etiology of substance use and violence behaviors among Hispanic adolescents in LA County, who were followed from 9th grade through their mid-20s.

Howard Hu, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D.

Co Principal Investigator and Co-Director

Dr.Hu is the Chair of and Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at USC. He has founded and led population-based molecular epidemiology research in children and adults as well as clinical trials in NIH-funded cohort studies. Dr. Hu also founded and directed the Harvard-NIEHS P01 Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Research and the University of Michigan-NIEHS P30 Environmental Health Sciences Core Center.

Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Leader, Community Engagement

Dr.Baezconde-Garbanati is Professor of Preventive Medicine at USC and Associate Dean for Community Initiatives at the Keck School of Medicine. She is responsible for the KSOM COVID-19 community response from the Dean’s office, and is engaged in the Dean’s COVID Strategy Task Force, the KSOM COVID Advocacy Task Force, and the Keck Medicine, University, Local and Government Relations and KSOM Community Engagement for COVID-19 Task Force. She is also the PI of an innovative COVID-19 mitigation behaviors project where art meets public health, working with local artists on culturally specific messaging and imagery to increase compliance with COVID-19 health safety behaviors.

David Conti, Ph.D.

Leader, Data Sciences Group

Dr.Conti is Professor of Preventive Medicine at USC and Associate Director for Data Science Integration for the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at USC. His current research program includes developments in statistical methodology, applied investigations into the genetic contribution to prostate and colon cancer, and collaborative projects in smoking initiation and cessation atherosclerosis, inflammation, diabetes, asthma, lymphoma, and psychiatric disorders.

Andrea Kovacs, M.D.

Leader, Laboratory Group

is Professor of Pediatrics, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Preventive Medicine, Division Head of the LAC+USC Pediatric Infectious Diseases and LAC+USC Director of the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Center for Infectious Diseases and Virology. Dr. Kovacs directs the MCA Research Laboratory, which is certified by the NIH, CLIA, CAP and the State of California to perform clinical trials and natural history studies. She has led multiple multidisciplinary complex clinical and laboratory-based epidemiologic and translational studies that involved coordination of teams of multidisciplinary scientists. Projects have included NIH funded intensive studies within large cohorts including assay development and required high-throughput; clinical trials design and conduct, epidemiological studies that involve small and large cohorts and translational studies that go from the bench to bedside. Dr. Kovacs’ current research focuses on the impact of co-viral infections including HIV, CMV, and HCV and now SARS-CoV-2 on pathogenesis of disease. She has been the PI or study chair of multiple NIH clinical trials and large pathogenies studies including currently serving as Principal Investigator for the USC NIH IMPAACT Clinical Trials Unit (IMPAACT) and serves as site PI for the MACS WIHS Combined Cohort Study as part of UCSF. She is currently studying HIV and HCV co-viral infections and effect of HCV cure on immune activation and dysregulation and HIV reservoirs. Since March 2020 her research has focused on the development of diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2 for epidemiologic research and pathogenesis studies including viral dynamics and immune response and mother to child transmission of SARS-CoV-2.