It's called the PITAG – and it's playing a central role in New Zealand's response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The Ministry of Health's Pandemic Influenza Technical Advisory Group brings together 11 of the country's foremost experts on public health and infectious disease.
Now meeting daily, the group has advised the ministry on crucial decisions such as travel bans.
So who's on the group?
Dr Caroline McElnay
The Ministry of Health's director of public health, Dr Caroline McElnay, chairs the group.
Along with the ministry's director-general of health, McElnay has been one of the faces of the Government's response to Covid-19, fronting daily media conferences and tackling many of the tough questions around the crisis.
She was appointed to the role in 2016, having served more than two decades as a medical officer of health.
A former president of the NZ College of Public Health, and board member of the national Plunket Society, she championed health equity throughout her previous posting at Hawke's Bay District Health Board, and authored a major report on the issue first published in 2014.
During her time with the DHB, she was involved in the response to Havelock North's gastro outbreak, and also fronted the first case of Sars in New Zealand and the listeria outbreak in Hawke's Bay.
Dr Anja Werno
German-born microbiologist Dr Anja Werno serves as chief of pathology and laboratories at Canterbury Health Laboratories.
She came to New Zealand in 1992 as a medical student and later returned to live, starting specialist training in microbiology in the virology department at Auckland Hospital in 1998, and then moving to Christchurch to work at Canterbury's laboratories in 2000.
Werno is also a member of the University of Otago's Department of Pathology and Biomedical Science.
In an interview with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists' quarterly magazine The Specialist, she said microbiology was "particularly intriguing because it can be very unpredictable".
"Novel infectious pathogens, like Sars or Mers, emerge and antimicrobial resistance is spreading worldwide," she said.
"The impact of these microbiological changes on human health and health economy is phenomenal. I find it inspiring to work on issues like these, trying to make a difference."
Dr Bryan Betty
Dr Bryan Betty is the medical director for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practice, a position he took up last August.
He is a practising GP, working at Porirua Union and Community Health Services in Cannons Creek, East Porirua, and previously served as deputy medical director for Pharmac between 2015 and May last year.
On top of that, he chairs the Capital Coast Alliancing Leadership Team, is on the Board of Tu Ora Compass Health PHO, and chairs its VLCA Youth Council.
A media statement advising his appointment to the top role at the college noted how equity, and issues such as access to quality healthcare for all people, had been big motivators throughout his career.
Professor David Murdoch
Murdoch is a renowned microbiologist who also served as dean of the University of Otago, Christchurch, and is co-leader of the collaborations The Infection Group and One Health Aotearoa.
He's also a senior associate in the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and a clinical microbiologist at Canterbury Health Laboratories.
His main research focuses are the epidemiology, diagnosis and prevention of respiratory tract infections, pneumococcal disease, legionellosis and bloodstream infections.
Further, he is the laboratory director of the Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health (PERCH) project focused on determining the causes of severe pneumonia in young children from developing nations, and has ongoing projects based in nine countries in Africa and Asia.
Dr Erasmus Smit
Dr Erasmus Smit is a virologist at Crown research institute ESR, and has previously worked with the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which was one of the largest organisations running NHS hospitals in England.
At ESR, Smit has been involved in creating a diagnostic test for Covid-19, based on a validated method widely used by many other national reference laboratories across the world.
Like Baker, he's also been fronting the media on the crisis, and giving comment on why major events around the world have had to be called off.
Dr Nigel Raymond
An infectious disease physician, Raymond also serves as the New Zealand chair of the Australasian Society for Infectious Disease.
Much of his career has focused on caring for people living with HIV, and worked with many patients before combination antiretroviral treatments became available in the mid-1990s.
He's served as a registrar at Auckland Hospital's infectious disease unit, and as an infectious disease fellow at Emory University hospitals for four years in Atlanta, US.
Since 1996, he's worked out of Wellington as an infectious disease and general physician, with research interests including HIV care in hospitals.
Dr Shanika Perera
Dr Shanika Perera is a medical officer of health for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.
Also a graduate of the University of Auckland's School of Medicine, she's worked with ARPHS since 2009, specialising in communicable disease control.
Her responsibilities at the service have included emerging diseases, pandemic and emergency planning, and leading public health planning for Ebola in the Auckland region.
She's fronted to the media on outbreaks of hepatitis A (2012), meningococcal disease (2018) and the current Covid-19 crisis.
Professor Michael Baker
A widely-respected University of Otago epidemiologist, Prof Michael Baker is also a member of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and holds a wide range of other roles.
They include director of Otago's Health Environment and Infection Research Unit, member of the World Health Organisation Regional Verification Commission for Measles Elimination, and principal investigator of the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities.
He has a wide range of public health research interests - with a particular focus on environmental health, infectious diseases, and housing – and has published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers.
In 2013, he was awarded the Health Research Council's Liley Medal for his contribution to the health and medical sciences, and the next year received the Prime Minister's Science Prize as a member of He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme.
Baker has been one of the most prominently quoted experts throughout the Covid-19 crisis, and has publicly aired his concerns around New Zealand's pandemic response planning.
Professor Stephen Chambers
A physician with the University of Otago, Prof Stephen Chambers specialises in respiratory infections, the treatment of infectious diseases and intermediary metabolism.
A big research focus has been on finding effective delivery of treatments for infectious disease, which minimised harm to patients.
Clinical studies undertaken by Chambers and his team have confirmed the limitations of current methods such as culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) - particularly in children - which depend on the collection of sputum and other specimens.
Dr Sally Roberts
Dr Sally Roberts is the clinical head of microbiology at LabPlus, Auckland City Hospital's medical diagnostic laboratory, and also serves as the national clinical lead for Auckland District Health Board's infection prevention and control programme.
A graduate of University of Auckland's School of Medicine, she's also been a member of a range of other Ministry of Health working groups, helping develop guidelines for MRSA and antenatal HIV screening.
Since 2011, she's also been working with the Health Quality & Safety Commission as clinical lead for the infection prevention and control programme.
Dr Virginia Hope
Dr Virginia Hope serves as medical director for ESR and was earlier a medical officer of health for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, where she specialised in a range of environmental health issues.
Before her work in public health, she worked for the Auckland Area Health Board (now the Auckland, Waitematā and Counties-Manukau District Health Boards) as whole-time occupational medicine specialist, also for a period of transition to Crown Health Enterprises as chief medical officer, chief health officer, and regional medical officer of health.
Her team at ESR includes specialists ranging from epidemiologists, to public health experts, to clinical microbiologists, all working together to support the work of the Ministry of Health and health providers in determining, and responding to, disease patterns.
Outside work, Pope serves as the health representative on the Territorial Forces Employer Support Council.
In 2014, she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of her service to health at national and local levels.