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Vol. LVII, No. 22
November 4, 2005

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Colwell To Give 2005 Barmes Lecture

Dr. Rita Colwell, distinguished professor at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, will deliver the David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 3:30 p.m. in Natcher Auditorium. She is former director of the National Science Foundation and is currently chairman of Canon U.S. Life Sciences, Inc. She will speak on "Global Climate, Environmental Pathogens, and Human Health: A New Paradigm."

  Dr. Rita Colwell

Colwell's talk will focus on the relationship between climate and infectious disease, including cholera. Her studies have found that the bacterium causing cholera, V. cholerae, is associated with plankton in the ocean and that weather conditions, including elevated sea temperature, create a favorable environment for the bacterium to flourish. Her work suggests that conditions for epidemics such as cholera outbreaks can be predicted by monitoring climatological factors.

Currently, she is co-principal investigator on a Wallenberg Foundation award to establish an international network to address infectious disease, water and health issues around the world. Her collaborators are from Sweden, Norway, Bangladesh, India, Japan, the U.K., Canada and the U.S.

Colwell served as the 11th NSF director from 1998 to 2004. She co-chaired the committee on science of the National Science and Technology Council. Prior to joining NSF, she was president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and professor of microbiology and biotechnology at UM.

A native of Beverly, Mass., Colwell earned a bachelor's of science in bacteriology and a master's of science in genetics from Purdue University. She was the first woman to receive a doctorate in marine microbiology from the College of Oceanography at the University of Washington.

Colwell previously served as chairman of the board of governors of the American Academy of Microbiology and also as president of several organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington Academy of Sciences and the American Society for Microbiology.

She is the author or coauthor of 16 books and more than 700 scientific publications and produced the award winning film Invisible Seas. She has served on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The recipient of 46 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education, Colwell also is an honorary member of the microbiological societies of the U.K., France, Israel and Bangladesh and has held a number of honorary professorships.

A geological site in Antarctica — Colwell Massif — was named in recognition of her work in the polar regions. NIDCR and the Fogarty International Center jointly sponsor the Barmes lecture, which honors the late David E. Barmes. He was a special expert for international health in the NIDCR Office of International Health. Prior to joining NIDCR, he had served in management positions on oral health, non-communicable diseases and health promotion for the World Health Organization in Geneva.

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