Emory Report
September 7, 2004
Volume 57, Number 03


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September 7, 2004
Great Teachers Lecture to focus on bioterrorism

BY holly korschun

Ruth Berkelman, Rollins Professor of Public Health and director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research, will deliver a Great Teachers Lecture, Thursday, Sept. 9, on “The Cost of Terror, The Price of Protection: A Public Health Perspective.”

Long before 9/11, Berkelman was at the forefront of the public health effort to prepare for the threat of emerging infectious diseases. In her roles as assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and deputy director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases, she confronted the critical need to develop strategies against new and reemerging biological pathogens identified over the past two decades. Now, with the additional looming threat of bioterrorism, Berkelman is using her public-health skills to lead a team of faculty, staff and students in programs of training, education and consultation to respond to biologic threats.

Within the Rollins School of Public Health, Berkelman directs research teams, training programs and student response teams, and collaborates with local, state and federal public health leaders, other academic medical centers, and business leaders to prepare responses to biologic and other threats, no matter their origin.
In her Great Teachers Lecture, Berkelman will discuss the newest challenges and potential of infectious diseases, both natural and man-made, and the active role her center plays in anticipating, preparing for and preventing urgent threats to public health.

Berkelman joined the Rollins school after retiring in 2000 from the U.S. Public Health Service with the rank of assistant surgeon general. From 1998–2000 she served as senior adviser to the CDC director. From 1992–97, she was deputy director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases and led the CDC’s efforts to respond to the threat of emerging infectious diseases. She is published widely in infectious diseases and disease surveillance literature. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Berkelman is board certified in pediatrics and internal medicine.

Berkelman recently was appointed chair of the American Society of Microbiology’s Public and Scientific Affairs Board, an organization representing more than 40,000 individuals dedicated to the advancement of the microbiologic sciences and their application for the common good. She also is a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a member of the American Epidemiological Society.

Berkelman is a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Emerging Infections and the National Academies’ Board of Life Sciences. She formerly served as a consultant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (established by Ted Turner and headed by former Senator Sam Nunn) on issues related to nonproliferation of biologic weapons and global public health surveillance.

The Great Teachers Lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held at Miller-Ward Alumni House from 7:30–9 p.m. For more information, contact the Center for Lifelong Learning at 404-727-6000.