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Rick Escorla Homeland Security Lecture Series


Rick Rescorla Homeland Security Lecture Series Featuring Dr. Rajeev Venkayya

"Public Health, Individual Rights, and Personal Responsibility: A Conversation with Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, Former Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense"

Hosted by France Hoang, mcj '00

Dr. Venkayya is president of the Global Vaccine Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, where he is co-leading Takeda’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Hoang will lead a conversation with Dr. Venkayya on individual rights and personal responsibility as they relate to the United States response to COVID-19, as well as Dr. Venkayya’s role in Takeda’s development of a vaccine.

Francis Hoang and Dr. Venkayya served together in the George W. Bush White House with Venkayya serving as special assistant to the president for biodefense and Hoang serving as an associate White House counsel and special assistant to the president.


Zoom Link:
Meeting ID: 924 1710 0664
Passcode: Washburn
No need to RSVP. For questions, call 785.670.4483 or email


Rajeev VenkayyaDr. Rajeev Venkayya is president of the Global Vaccine Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, where he leads a vertically-integrated business developing vaccines for dengue, norovirus and Zika. He is also co-leading Takeda’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. He serves as an independent member of the board of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is funding and coordinating several vaccine development programs for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). He is also on the board of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Venkayya was previously special assistant to the president for biodefense at the White House. In this role, he was the principal author of the “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza” (2005), and his office led the development and execution of the companion “Implementation Plan” (2006). His team conceived the strategy of early, coordinated implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions to slow the spread of a pandemic virus, now known as “flattening the curve,” that was described in the US Government’s guidelines on community mitigation of pandemic influenza (2007). He also worked closely with the Department of Justice and FBI on a range of issues, including responses to the detection of potential biological threats through BioWatch and other environmental detection programs and the development of attribution capabilities to support biological threat deterrence.

Prior to joining Takeda, Dr. Venkayya served as director of vaccine delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, where he was responsible for the foundation’s top two priorities of polio eradication and the introduction of new vaccines into developing countries through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. He also served on the board of Gavi.

Dr. Venkayya has midwestern roots, having grown up in Ohio where his father was an aerospace scientist with the US Air Force and his mother founded a nonprofit organization that supports the local homeless population. He received his bachelor and medical degrees from the Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine and was a resident and chief medical resident in internal medicine at the University of Michigan. He trained in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also served on the faculty.

Dr. Venkayya now lives in Boston with his wife, Viktoria, and their two sons. Follow him on Twitter @rvenkayya.


France HoangFrance Hoang received a master of criminal justice from Washburn University in 2000. He graduated at the top 1% of his class at West Point and also graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center.

France is a veteran entrepreneur who has been on the founding teams of companies that have generated over $600 million of combined sales and employed over 1,200 professionals across the fields of law, aerospace, defense, government services and technology. He also has over 20 years of national security experience, with service in every branch of the U.S. government. He clerked for Chief Judge James E. Baker on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and for Judge Thomas Griffith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. France was appointed by President George W. Bush as an associate White House counsel and special assistant to the president. Shortly after leaving the White House, he mobilized in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM where he served as the executive officer of a U.S. Army Special Forces Company on a combat deployment in Southeast Afghanistan.

France previously deployed to the Former Yugoslavia during Operations Joint Endeavor and Joint Guard and later served as the deputy chief of police and SWAT commander for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He previously worked as a lawyer at the law firm of Williams & Connolly and briefly served as an assistant United States attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He currently serves as a distinguished visiting lecturer at the U.S. Military Academy in the Department of Law.

France's current and previous board service includes MAG Aerospace, the Stimson Center, Marymount University, Bunker Labs, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. He also serves as an advisor to the ABA Standing Committee on Law & National Security.

France was born in Saigon, left Vietnam in a hurry in 1975 before the age of 2, and was raised in Tumwater, Washington. He currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia.

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