Jessica Taaffe, PhD

Associate Scholar

  •  Global Health and Science Consultant
  •  Azerbaijan | Belarus | Georgia | Moldova, Republic of | Romania | South Africa
  •   Capacity-building | global health diplomacy | Global Health Security | HIV/AIDS | Malaria | OneHealth | Public Health | Tuberculosis

Languages: English (native), Spanish (fluent), French (beginner)

Bio statement

Dr. Jessica Taaffe is on a mission to advance global health through science. A microbiologist by training, her biomedical expertise is in infectious disease, with a focus on HIV and malaria immunopathogenesis in human and non-human primates. After earning her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and post-doctoral work at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Taaffe started her career at the intersect of science and global health. She works with researchers and policymakers alike to evaluate, interpret, communicate, and apply scientific evidence in global health programs and policy.  She has done so on diverse projects and topics, including HIV implementation science, social protection programs, global health advocacy, and building research capacity. Her work has included projects in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and with government, academia, and non-governmental and multilateral organizations such as WHO, UNAIDS, and World Bank. In 2016, Dr. Taaffe served as a Scientific Program Planning Committee Member for the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Dr. Taaffe is also passionate about strengthening the scientific community’s voice on public platforms. She uses social media to share her opinions on science and global health and has been featured in podcasts like The Circus Life and Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria. She was a science correspondent and host of the YouTube show This Week in Global Health. Her opinion pieces have been published in leading science and health media outlets such as PLoS Blogs and Global Health Now. Dr. Taaffe has also given seminars and guest lectures on global health topics at local universities, including University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and Virginia Tech.  She was named among 100 Women Leaders in Global Health in 2014 by The Graduate Institute Geneva and is currently an IF/THEN Ambassador, serving as a Women in STEM role model for girls.

Recent global health projects

Dr. Taaffe is currently working in Washington, DC, as a global health and science consultant. for diverse stakeholders in academia, government, NGO and multilateral organizations. Her recent work includes communicating the impact of SARS-Cov-2 variants on public health interventions. Please contact her directly for more information.

As an IF/THEN Ambassador, Dr. Taaffe is engaging with organizations that support education and extracurricular opportunities for middle school girls. Through a variety of digital and in-person activities, she is sharing her personal STEM story and creating content focused around science and global health to inspire the next generation of Women in STEM. Her IF/THEN She Can Change the World grant project focuses on highlighting inspirational African women in STEM as role models for South African girls through short interview videos. In June 2021, she was featured in the 3M and Generous Films-produced "Not the Science Type" that premiered at an event during the Tribeca Film Festival. The docuseries aims to challenge stereotypes of women in STEM and profiles Dr. Taaffe's personal and professional story in science and global health.


Selected publications

Taaffe, J. et al. Advancing tuberculosis research using digitized programmatic data. (accepted, IJTLD)

Wollenberg, K. et al. A retrospective genomic analysis of drug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis in a high-burden setting, with an emphasis on comparative diagnostics and reactivation and reinfection status. BMC Infect Dis. 2020. https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-4739-z

Raja, A., Brickley, E., Taaffe, J. et al. A primate model of severe malarial anemia: a comparative pathogenesis study. Sci Rep, 2019.

Rosenthal, A., et al The TB Portals: An Open-Access, Web-Based Platform for Global Drug-Resistant-Tuberculosis Data Sharing and Analysis, J Clin Microbio, 2017.

Taaffe J, and Wilson D. (publication in process) Tailoring the local HIV response to local HIV epidemics. Disease Control Priorities, 3rd Ed: Major Infectious Diseases.  

Taaffe J, Longosz A, and Wilson D (2017) The Impact of Cash Transfers on Livelihoods, Education, Health and HIV — What's the Evidence?. Development Policy Review, 2017 April 20: 1-19. doi: 10.1111/dpr.12253

Bali S and Taaffe J (2017) Exploring the Synergies between the SDGs and Global Health Security Agenda for a Sustainable and Resilient World. Journal of Public Health Policy. May 2017, Volume 38, Issue 2: 257–268. doi: 10.1057/s41271-016-0058-4