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The 2012 World Science Festival took place on May 30-June 3 in New York City. We offered a slate of exciting new programs and old favorites this year, all aimed at unlocking the beauty and complexity of science for everyone. Sign up for our newsletter to stay connected and get exclusive interviews, stories, and updates on upcoming programs.

PANDEMIC FIX: SEEKING UNIVERSAL VACCINES

pandemic
Date: Saturday, June 2, 2012
Time: 02:00 PM-05:30 PM
Venue: New-York Historical Society, Smith Auditorium
Moderator: Richard Besser
Participants: Laurie Garrett, Gary Nabel, Michael Osterholm, Harold Varmus

Imagine beating every strain of flu with a single jab. Wiping out your risk of some lethal cancers, HIV, and malaria during a routine doctor’s visit. That’s the promise of next-generation vaccines, and researchers are closing in on the basic science needed to bring them to reality. Join epidemiologists, virologists, and public-health experts as they share insights on the new wave of vaccine research, and the race to eliminate pandemic threats. Setting the stage for the discussion is a screening of Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s chilling thriller about a deadly flu outbreak and the global race to contain it.

Screening at 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM and Program at 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Presented in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society, where “Get Vaccinated” is on display May 15 through September 2.

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Moderator

richard_besser
ABC News Chief Health & Medical Editor

Richard Besser is ABC News’ chief health and medical editor. In this role, he provides medical analysis and commentary for all ABC News broadcasts and platforms, including World News with Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America, and Nightline.

Since his arrival at ABC News in 2009, Besser has been at the forefront of news coverage for every major medical story. When ABC News first reported on the health problems facing then-hospitalized, former President Clinton, Besser was there with insights and reporting on heart health. In January 2010, he reported from the ravaged country of Haiti in the immediate aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

Besser is the leading correspondent on ABC’s global health series, Be The Change, Save a Life. He has traveled from Bangladesh to Burkina Faso, raising very important global health issues.

Besser came to ABC News from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he served as director of the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. In that role, he was responsible for all of the CDC’s public health emergency preparedness and emergency response activities. He also served as acting director for the CDC and acting administrator for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry from January to June 2009, during which time he led the CDC’s response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak.

Besser began his career at the CDC in 1991 in the Epidemic Intelligence Service working on the epidemiology of food-borne diseases. Following this, in 1993, he served for five years on the faculty of the University of California, San Diego, as the pediatric residency director. While in San Diego he worked for the county health department on the control of pediatric tuberculosis. He returned to the CDC in 1998, where he served in various capacities, including epidemiology section chief in the Respiratory Diseases Branch; acting chief of the Meningitis and Special Pathogens Branch in the National Center for Infectious Disease; and as the medical director of “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work,” the CDC′s national campaign to promote appropriate antibiotic use in the community.

He has authored and co-authored hundreds of presentations, abstracts, chapters, editorials, and publications. He has received many awards for his work in public health and volunteer service including the Surgeon General′s Medallion for his leadership during the H1N1 response.

Besser received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Williams College and his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed a residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

He met his wife Jeanne, a food writer, while on his first outbreak investigation in 1991. They have two sons, Alex and Jack.

Participants

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Journalist

Laurie Garrett is currently the senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Garrett is the only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big “Ps” of journalism: The Peabody, The Polk and The Pulitzer. Garrett is also the best-selling author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. Her most recent book is I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks. During her time at the Council on Foreign Relations, Garrett has written several reports and articles including: HIV and National Security: Where are the Links?, A Council Report (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 2005); ‘The Next Pandemic?’ (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005); ‘The Lessons of HIV/AIDS’ (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005); and ‘The Challenge of Global Health’ (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2007), The Future of Foreign Assistance Amid Global Economic and Financial Crisis, A Council on Foreign Relations Action Plan (2009); ‘Castrocare in Crisis’ (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010). Garrett is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and served as the organization’s president during the mid-1990s. She currently serves on the advisory board for the Noguchi Prize, François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights, and the Health Worker Global Policy Advisory Group, and is a principal member of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN). Garrett also chairs the Scientific Advisory Panel to the United Nations High Level Commission on HIV Prevention in collaboration with UNAIDS. She is an expert on global health with a particular focus on newly emerging and re-emerging diseases, bioterrorism, public health and its effects on foreign policy and national security. ­­­­­­­­

Photo by Viorel Florescu

picsgary_nabel.jpg
Virologist, Immunologist

Gary Nabel is a nationally recognized expert at the forefront of virology, immunology, gene therapy and molecular biology. He is the director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and InfectiousDiseases, where he oversees scientific research and guides the development of new strategies for vaccinating against HIV and other infectious diseases. Under Nabel’s leadership, the VRC began its first clinical trial of an HIV/AIDS vaccine, and it has developed a potential HIV vaccine that is currently being tested for efficacy. The VRC is also advancing universal influenza vaccine candidates and using new technologies to address emerging infectious threats like the Ebola and Chikungunya viruses.

Nabel completed his Ph.D. and M.D. at Harvard University. Before his appointment at the VRC, he was a professor of internal medicine and biochemistry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Among his many other honors, Nabel has received the Amgen Scientific Achievement Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2003, and election to the American Association of Physicians and the American Association for Advancement of Science. In 1998, he was elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, where he still serves.

picsmichael_osterholm.jpg
Public Health Scientist

Michael Osterholm is one of the nation’s foremost experts in public health, infectious disease and biosecurity. As the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, he has been an international leader on questions of the world’s preparedness for an influenza pandemic and the growing concern regarding the use of biological agents as catastrophic weapons targeting civilian populations. He has led numerous investigations into internationally important disease outbreaks, including foodborne diseases, hepatitis B in healthcare settings, and HIV infection in healthcare workers, and he is a frequent consultant to the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2001 to 2005, Dr. Osterholm served as a special advisor to the secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services onissues related to bioterrorism and public health preparedness. He has also been appointed to the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity and the World Economic Forum’s Working Group on Pandemics, among other prominent advisory positions. Dr. Osterholm has received numerous honors for his work, including an honorary doctorate from Luther College, the CDC’s Charles C. Shepard Science Award, the FDA’s Harvey W. Wiley Medal, and the Wade Hampton Frost Leadership Award from the American Public Health Association.

harold_varmus
Nobel Laureate, Oncologist

Harold Varmus received the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Dr. J. Michael Bishop, his former colleague at the University of California, San Francisco, for their discovery of cellular genes that are progenitors of retroviral oncogenes. This discovery led to the isolation of many cellular genes that normally control growth and development and are frequently mutated in human cancer.

The Director of the National Institutes of Health from 1993 to 1999, Dr. Varmus was President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for the following ten years and was a co-chair of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from January 2009 until he became the Director of the National Cancer Institute on July 12, 2010.

Dr. Varmus has authored over 350 scientific papers and five books, including a recent memoir titled The Art and Politics of Science. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine and recipient of the National Medal of Science, as well as the Vannevar Bush Award.

Photo credit – Matthew Septimus

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