Emily Landon, MD, executive medical director of infection prevention and control at UChicago Medicine, started out as a voice major at Augustana College in Rock Island until she realized that practicing music alone in a studio wasn’t how she wanted to spend her life.
“I decided in college that I didn’t want to be a musician,” she says. “I wanted to do something where I had a connection with people.” Landon, who grew up in Crystal Lake, dropped voice to study microbiology, a decision she’s never regretted.
Fast forward to March 2020, when Landon was called upon to use her voice to stem the effects of Covid-19. As the pandemic was unfolding in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker asked Landon to explain to the public the importance of following the state’s stay-at-home order.
Landon says she felt the weight of delivering a message that many people would not relish hearing. She urged individuals to make sacrifices and abide by restrictions to ensure community health. “I just said what I really thought and how I really felt,” she says. “But I was worried people wouldn’t believe in it. I needed people to believe in it.”
Imagine Landon’s surprise when the video of her speech at the governor’s press conference went viral. “When I got in my car, I literally had hundreds of messages on my phone,” she says.
Knowing that her message likely saved lives is gratifying for Landon, who is thankful she pursued a medical career that helps stem the tide of infectious disease.
“I have the least boring job in the world,” she says. “Infection control weaves its way through every aspect of medical care.”