Dr. Judy Monroe, a former Indiana state health commissioner who co-chairs the Governor’s Public Health Commission, writes a piece for STAT News about how public health agencies can learn from NASA about regaining the public’s trust. Dr. Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, finds lessons in the partnership, resources, scientific rigor, and imagination today’s NASA has deployed to create and launch the Webb and Hubble telescopes. “Establishing a new era in public health will take these same elements to give the public health system the funding, tools, and workforce needed to protect Americans from unprecedented health threats,” Dr. Monroe writes. “NASA embarked on that road by moving from being a hierarchical, closed system that develops its technologies internally to an open network organization that embraces innovation, agility, and collaboration. The U.S. public health system must follow that trajectory” NASA undertook after the Challenger disaster, when it was “beset by questions about its decision-making and faced a significant challenge with public perceptions. It learned painful lessons about a flawed management structure and poor communications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies find themselves in a similar position these days, having lost the trust of their stakeholders during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she writes. “Just as it took NASA years to transform itself into one of the most trusted federal agencies, it will take time for the public health system to earn back the trust it has lost.” She continues, noting that 36 years ago, when NASA faced “a crisis of trust,” it required a presidential commission “before the agency launched a space shuttle nearly three years after the Challenger disaster. But unlike launching into space, which is an arbitrary goal, the next health crisis could happen at any time, whether it’s another Covid-19 variant, a new virus that has leapt from animals to humans, a worsening opioid crisis, or an increase in chronic diseases. The public health system must implement change now to protect Americans’ health and safety,” Dr. Monroe posits. “Investment in public health is paramount, but so are the underpinnings that make it work – growing the workforce, creating the legal authority to ensure the system has the tools needed to do its job, achieving health equity, updating and modernizing technology, and reimagining public-private partnerships. Americans need all sectors to come together to strengthen their public health infrastructure,” the former family practice physician in Indianapolis concludes.