School of Public Health alum Bryan Murphy-Eustis (SPH’04) didn’t intend to pursue a career in public health consulting, but the consensus building and goal-oriented nature of the sector appealed to him while he was an MPH student studying epidemiology and biostatistics at SPH.
Now, Murphy-Eustis is entering his 17th year as executive director of BME Strategies, a public health consulting firm he founded after graduating from the school in 2004. The Boston-based practice works with non-profits, governments, and community organizations all across the globe to help build and strengthen capacity, develop interventions, and prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.
“I love the variety of projects and people that I’ve engaged with over the years,” says Murphy-Eustis, who also serves on SPH’s Alumni Leadership Council. “The skills I’ve gained from building collaboration, advocating for change, and driving a project forward are skills that I’ve used in every single project since.”
His first glimpse into public health consulting occurred during his practicum at the Needham Health Department. His practicum took place just a few years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and anthrax scare, after which every health department was tasked with creating risk communication plans and emergency operations plans. Murphy-Eustis developed the department’s first risk communication plan during his practicum, and then after he graduated, he was hired as a consultant to craft Needham’s emergency operations plan.
“Eventually I wrote the plans for the health departments in Cambridge, Somerville, and many other cities across Massachusetts, and then the state-wide plan for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, so BME Strategies became a business organically,” he says. The focus of the company is not only to support communities in preparing for health emergencies, but support governments to build stronger health systems and health programs.”
Last September, Murphy-Eustis became the vice president of programs for The Max Foundation, a global nonprofit that improves access to cancer treatment in 75 countries. The organizationcollaborates with pharmaceutical partners, physicians, and patient advocacy groups to increase care in mainly low and middle-income countries.
“It’s really exciting and rewarding to be able to support The Max Foundation’s programmatic efforts and help our teams get medications to patients who would otherwise not have access to these treatments,” he says.
Previously, Murphy-Eustis spent several years working abroad (and in Boston) for Partners in Health. In Malawi, he served as a Global Health Corps fellow and later in a program management role to guide transitions in the HR, operations, and finance departments. From 2014 to 2017, he served as the chief operating officer for PIH’s Ebola response and then as executive director of PIH Liberia. His work in West Africa focused on leading clinical and operational teams that improved services in treatment facilities throughout Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“Working at Partners In Health was wonderful—it’s a mission-driven organization that supports communities in a way that’s locally driven and hyper-focused on the needs of the patient,” Murphy-Eustis says. “When the Ebola outbreak occurred, we knew we had to get involved and support setting up programs and operations. After Ebola subsided, we made long-term commitments to help strengthen the health systems in Sierra Leone and Liberia to work toward mitigating something like this in the future.”
Now the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, BME has supported communities’ COVID-19 response in the US, and the team began to help cities develop effective vaccination programs and outreach programs, as well as educational initiatives about the vaccine, earlier this year.
“In the midst of disaster response, we try to think about how we come out of it stronger,” Murphy-Eustis says. “We know that when public health work goes well, no one knows about it. I hope we can invest more, not just in public health, but in health systems, so that we are able to respond to crises on a much greater level.”
In addition to his ALC role, Murphy-Eustis has also served as a mentor to many SPH students through the Alumni Mentorship Program, and several BME consultants are SPH graduates.
“BU was a great school when I applied, but my affiliation to the school is one I’ve come to value more and more because the school and its programming have just gotten better and better.