David Catania (I-At large), one of the District’s two openly gay City Council members, announced earlier this month that he has been appointed to faculty at the city’s George Washington University. In accordance with Catania’s extensive experience in public-health issues, he’ll be joining the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services as a professorial lecturer.
”When I became chair of the [City Council’s] Committee on Health, there were many times that I needed outside expertise,” says Catania. ”This is pretty sophisticated subject matter. So I forged a partnership between the District, the Department of Health, and George Washington University. I’m very excited about the collaboration we’ve had over the last four years.
”In the area of HIV, the District, the HIV/AIDS Administration, could not secure an epidemiologist. But George Washington University had a world-class epidemiologist and we were able to establish a relationship to assist with data collections. It’s been a fantastic relationship.”
Aside from chairing the health committee, Catania also serves as chair of the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices, a national, bipartisan, nonprofit group founded by state legislators to both reduce drug prices and to expand access to prescription drugs.
”One thing I’m eager to talk about is the District leading the country with its code of conduct for pharmaceutical distributors,” Catania says of what GW students may expect from him, adding that while the appointment is new, he has spoken to GW students on previous occasions. ”Another issue is how we promote health care safety, generally. We’re on the cutting edge here in the District on public safety.”
Catania says that while he majored in international politics as an undergraduate, before pursuing his law degree, he’s had ample on-the-job training in public health.
”I’ve had no special training in the health field,” he grants. ”But if you’re open to learning from other people, you can get past the learning curve.”
Catania’s office reports that the he will forgo any remuneration for this appointment to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. As for the amount of time Catania may commit to GW, that remains to be cemented.
”It will be as time permits,” says Catania. ”There will be more opportunity when we’re not in budget season.”