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Mythbusters & Misinformation: Tips from Healthcare Pros on Strategic Communications

February 25, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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Zoom Meeting



As communicators, our challenges are greater than ever as information can travel around the world in just seconds. According to the journal “Science,” false news spreads at a rate of about six times faster than the truth. Countermessaging to any false information can be an uphill battle—especially during a global pandemic where the amount of information being released every minute is too much to consume.

Join us on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 12pm CST as we've assembled an esteemed panel of healthcare pros who will discuss the challenges of communications with COVID—from the virus itself to the vaccine trials, and the vaccines that have been approved. You'll get answers straight from these experts who have first-hand knowledge and experience with the unprecedented and accelerated development of manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. You won't want to miss these strategic communications tips from the experts!

You will receive a confirmation email with Zoom login information once you complete your registration.

About Our Moderator

Christine Dobbyn is a multiple Emmy-Award winning television journalist who most recently worked at Houston’s ABC owned station. While at KTRK-TV, she covered Hurricanes Harvey, Ike, Katrina and Rita, the Royal Wedding in London, the Pope’s visit to NYC and Cuba, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and Gulf oil spill and the death of the King of Pop in LA. She’s been recognized by the Houston Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, the RIAS Berlin International Commission, the Texas, Ohio and Indiana Associated Press, the Gracie Awards, Clarion Awards, and Edward R. Murrow Awards for her work in journalism.

After catching the entrepreneurial bug, she decided to leave journalism and return to the classroom. She graduated with her MBA from Rice University in May 2020 and launched Dobbyn Digital Media, a communications and brand journalism agency. She’s been working for the Houston Fights COVID campaign since last summer to help educate, inform and drive leads for COVID vaccine research and trials at DM Clinical Research and Texas Center for Drug Development.

Meet Our Panelists


Vanessa Astros is a bilingual strategic communications professional and former journalist who now leads the St. Luke’s Health – Texas Division media relations strategy to increase awareness of the health system and improve public perception. In this role, she provides communications counsel to senior leaders and clinical staff and develops and executes sound crisis communications plans during a disaster or an unexpected event. 

Before joining St. Luke’s Health, Vanessa served as a health care communications expert for Arnold Ventures, a Houston-based philanthropy dedicated to improving lives through evidence-based research and policy making. In that role, she elevated awareness and support for a comprehensive legislative solution to lower drug prices and positioning the philanthropy as a go-to resource for policymakers as well as local and national media. Vanessa also has led the communications function at the Houston Symphony and worked as a senior advisor at Edelman PR, overseeing media relations strategies for the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and the American Heart Association. Ms. Astros holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communications from Illinois State University, with a minor in Latin American Studies.

Mohammad Millwala is CEO of DM Clinical Research - a clinical trials company he founded over a decade and a half ago. From a fledgling family company, he grew the organization to what is today the largest independent clinical research network serving Houston, with a footprint across three states and a position of leadership in the industry. At the last World Vaccine Congress, the company was nominated for the Best Clinical Trial Site Award. The company has also been recognized by the Society for Clinical Research Sites with the SPIRA award for innovation in patient recruitment. Over the years, their team, with the support of thousands of Houston-area participants, have played a key part in vaccine trials to help protect Americans against threats from the Ebola virus and anthrax to pneumonia and the flu.

Building upon that experience, in the summer of 2020, DM, with its sister organization the Texas Center for Drug Development, launched the #HoustonFightsCOVID initiative to invite Houstonians from all walks of life to join trials to aid the development of vaccines against COVID-19. Tens of thousands signed up, including adolescent and pediatric volunteers more recently. Being representative of the diversity of Houston was a key goal. The company was selected by major pharmaceutical partners to conduct landmark COVID vaccine trials, including those by Moderna, Pfizer, Janssen and Novavax.

Elizabeth Perez, MPH joined Harris County Public Health Department (HCPH) as the Director of Communications, Education, and Engagement (OCEE) in 2015. Her responsibilities include overseeing the overall communication and engagement methods of HCPH, both internally and externally. Her experience in both healthcare and with national campaigns, educational and communication efforts, bring a unique level of expertise and resources to serve the residents of Harris County.

Before moving to Harris County, Liz was a Public Health Advisor, Communication Specialist at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington D.C. During her time at HHS, Elizabeth worked at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of Minority Health (OMH). There, Liz managed groundbreaking healthcare communications projects introducing mobile apps and implementing the agencies' plain-language and multilingual efforts to diverse populations. Prior to HHS, she worked at the National Coalition of Health Care, a think tank and advocacy group for the Affordable Care Act. Ms. Perez originally worked in the health policy and communication arena as a clinician, as she worked within the health care sector for over eight years. She holds a Bachelors degree in Radiation Sciences, emphasizing in health administration and research, and a Masters in Public Health in Health Policy and Leadership from Loma Linda University.


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