Travis Gayles, MD-PhD, RBS 1997

Scholars Helping Lead the Fight Against COVID-19 Travis Gayles, MD-PhD RBS 1997

As Chief Health Officer for Montgomery County, MD, Dr. Travis Gayles is on the front lines of the fight against the corona virus. Travis, a Duke graduate who earned his MD and Ph.D from the University of Illinois, is a pediatrician who previously served as Chief Medical Officer for the Washington DC Department of Health’s HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis, STDs, and TB Administration. Today, Travis leads a team of over 500 employees, using his training and experience in community health and health policy to protect the welfare of the residents of his county. Travis explains, “As the Health Officer for Montgomery County, my job has been to lead the County’s COVID-19 pandemic response. This involves overseeing all aspects of public health emergency preparedness including executing CDC, state and local disease control policies, developing and implementing COVID-related clinical policies throughout the county, distribution of protective resources, coordinating surge planning for hospitals and health systems, and informing/educating the public on pandemic progress.” Now that corona virus has made celebrities of public health officials, he has become a conspicuous figure in Southern Maryland and Washington, DC. Travis not only directs and implements policy for the county of one million residents, he is also the face of public health in southern Maryland, educating the public about risk mitigation on tv news, at press conferences, and via social media. As the calm and steady embodiment of reliable scientific information, Travis is using public policy and public perception to keep people safe. Living up to the ethos of this Program, Travis writes, “The support from the Ron Brown Scholar Program, including financial support and ongoing mentorship, have equipped me with the skillset to pursue this career path and have the confidence to execute these duties in a time of chaos and uncertainty.”