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Public Interest and Profit: Big Pharma and the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

February 24, 2021 at 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm EST

About the Program: 

Recent history has witnessed a remarkable example of private industry’s effective response to a health crisis. On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization’s Country Office in the People’s Republic of China first picked up on a media statement by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China.[1] On December 11, 2020, – less than a year later – the FDA granted emergency use authorization (to an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.[2] Big Pharma identified a new pathogen, found an immune response against the pathogen, and developed and tested a safe and effective vaccine in record time.[3]

Join the Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity on Wednesday, February 24th as we welcome a panel of business, public health, and policy experts to discuss the creation of COVID-19 vaccines and their subsequent distribution. Speakers will examine the roll Big Pharma played in developing the various vaccines and their decision-making to determine how the vaccine is delivered and who will receive it.

[1] https://www.who.int/news/item/27-04-2020-who-timeline—covid-19

[2] https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-takes-key-action-fight-against-covid-19-issuing-emergency-use-authorization-first-covid-19

[3] https://connect.uclahealth.org/2020/12/10/the-fastest-vaccine-in-history/


Kenneth Abbott

Ken Abbott recently retired from his position as America’s Chief Risk Officer at Barclays Bank. Prior to that he was Chief Operating Officer (COO) for all Firm Risk at Morgan Stanley, a position he held for over nine years.  While at Morgan Stanley he covered Commodities, Rates, FX, Retail and Emerging Markets businesses, and was CRO for Morgan Stanley’s buy-side activity. 


He also spent 14 years at Bankers Trust in a number of trading, research and risk management roles. He spent over 5 years at Bank of America in several senior Market Risk Management roles. Abbott currently sits on the Boards of the New Jersey Scholars Program, the Harvard Club of New Jersey, and CGU’s Financial Engineering Program, where he has recently been appointed as a Senior Fellow.


Ken Abbott has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University; a Master of Arts in Economics and Master of Science in Statistics and Operations Research from New York University.  He is an avid musician, playing clarinet, saxophone, oboe, English horn, and tuba.

Dr. Eric Rubin


Eric J. Rubin, M.D., Ph.D., joined the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and NEJM Group as Editor-in-Chief in September 2019, taking on the responsibility for oversight of all editorial content and policies.

Dr. Rubin is an Associate Physician specializing in infectious disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is a Professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He serves on several scientific advisory boards to groups interested in infectious disease therapeutics. Dr. Rubin has also previously served as the Associate Editor for Infectious Disease at the New England Journal of Medicine as well as an editor for several basic science journals including PLoS Pathogens, Tuberculosis, and mBio.

Robert Santangelo


Robert Santangelo is a Managing Director of Credit Suisse in the Investment Banking division, based in New York. He is the Global Head of Equity Capital Markets Origination.

Mr Santangelo joined Credit Suisse in 2007 from Bank of America where he was a Managing Director in Equity Capital Markets. Prior to that, he worked in a variety of capacities in equity derivatives and corporate finance. Mr Santangelo began his career as an attorney with Sullivan & Cromwell.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Prof. Jonathan Engel


Jonathan Engel conducts research in the historical evolution of U.S. health and social welfare policy. His books are Doctors and Reformers: Discussion and Debate on Health Policy, 1925-1950 (University of South Carolina Press, 2002); Poor People’s Medicine: Medicaid and U.S. Charity Care Since 1965 (Duke University Press, 2006); The Epidemic: A History of AIDS (Smithsonian Books, 2006); American Therapy: The Rise of Psychotherapy in the United States (Gotham Books of Penguin/Putnam, 2008); Unaffordable: American Healthcare from Johnson to Trump (University of Wisconsin, 2017); and Fat Nation: Obesity in America Since 1945 (Rowmn & Littlefield, 2018). He is currently writing a history of science policy in the United States during the Cold War titled Transforming American Science.​


Professor Engel teaches courses in the healthcare policy track of the MPA, in addition to teaching the research methods sequence. Prior to joining Baruch College in 2008, he was a professor of healthcare policy and management at Seton Hall University for 13 years. He has also taught courses in healthcare finance and policy at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and at the School of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts. He currently serves as Faculty Development Coordinator for the Marxe School.Sarah Lageson is sociologist who studies criminal justice, law, privacy, surveillance, and tech. Her research examines the growth of online crime data, mugshots, and criminal records that create new forms of “digital punishment” and has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, National Public Radio’s Planet Money, WNYC’s the Takeaway, and other media outlets. Sarah is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University-Newark School of Criminal Justice, a 2020-2021 American Bar Foundation/JPB Foundation Access to Justice Scholar, and is a grant recipient of the National Institute of Justice Early Career Award. Her research has been published in peer reviewed journals including Criminology, Law and Society Review, Law and Social Inquiry, Punishment & Society, The British Journal of Sociology, and Contexts. Her book, Digital Punishment, was published in 2020 by Oxford University Press.


12:30 pm – Program begins

1:45 pm – Program concludes


Complimentary pre-registration is required to attend this program. Please register online through Zoom.


February 24, 2021
12:30 pm - 1:45 pm EST




Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity