By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has named Mariana Mazzucato, a leading economist advocating for sustainable growth, and Dr. John N. Nkengasong, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator and special representative for global health diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State, as members of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

They were among the seven new members the pope named as “ordinary academicians” Oct. 15.

Mazzucato, 54, who holds U.S. and Italian citizenship, is professor in the “economics of innovation and public value” at University College London, where she is founding director of the university’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She graduated from Tufts University and The New School for Social Research in New York.

A highly acclaimed author on economics, her work even impacted Pope Francis, who said in his 2020 book, “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” that her writings “provoked a lot of reflection” within him, seeing a way of “thinking that is not ideological, which moves beyond the polarization of free market capitalism and state socialism, and which has at its heart a concern that all of humanity have access to land, lodging and labor.”

Nkengasong is a Cameroonian-American virologist with more than 30 years’ experience in public health. He has served as chief of virology at the World Health Organization and has worked on the diagnosis, pathogenesis and drug resistance of HIV/AIDS. After moving to the United States, he began working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continuing specialized work on HIV diagnosis.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nkengasong was appointed the WHO special envoy for Africa. In June, he was named the U.S. global AIDS coordinator and special representative for health diplomacy, a post that includes overseeing PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

The other ordinary members the pope named are:

  • Archbishop Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio of Lima, Peru, a theologian with long experience in student and university pastoral care.
  • Federico de Montalvo Jääskeläinen, a professor in Spain and expert in constitutional law, human rights, civil liberties and medical law and bioethics.
  • Saad al-Din Mosaad Helaly, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University in Egypt.
  • Dr. Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, a public health expert and consultant from Congo, former director of the department of immunization, vaccines and biologicals of the World Health Organization.
  • Sheila Dinotshe Tlou, an educator and nurse specializing in HIV/AIDS and women’s health, former minister of health for Botswana and former director of the World Health Organization’s collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Development in Primary Health Care.