Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael T. Osterholm will offer
his views on influenza pandemic preparation during the first annual
John R. LaMontagne Memorial Lecture, to be given Thursday, May
11 at 2 p.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10.
|Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael T.
During his talk, "Pandemic Influenza: Lessons Learned and Revisited," Osterholm,
who is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and
Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, will examine current
challenges in preparing for a potential flu pandemic and the truth
about the avian flu threat. "A pandemic will happen, absolutely.
It's like hurricanes. The big one might not happen this year, next
year or even 5 years from now, but it will happen," he says. "What
people need to understand is that nothing we do now to prepare
will be wasted."
Despite what the media say, however, "we are not all going to
die," he adds. "We can't change the future in terms of when a pandemic
will occur, but we can change our level of preparedness and how
we prioritize." According to Osterholm, this includes building
vaccine reserve capacity and spurring a commitment to develop a
universal flu vaccine applicable to a variety of flu strains.
"In 1961, President Kennedy pledged that we go to the moon by
the end of that decade, and scientists rose to the challenge," he
noted. "We have to have that same level of commitment for the flu
In addition to his leadership role in CIDRAP, Osterholm is also
associate director of the Department of Homeland Security's National
Center for Food Protection and Defense and a professor in the University
of Minnesota's School of Public Health. From 2001 to 2005, he served
as special advisor to then HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on bioterrorism
and public health preparedness issues. Last summer, HHS Secretary
Michael Leavitt appointed Osterholm to the new National Science
Advisory Board on Biosecurity.
An epidemiologist by training, Osterholm served for 24 years with
the Minnesota department of health where he led numerous investigations
into infectious disease in child-care settings, the transmission
of hepatitis B and HIV infection in health care settings and food-borne
The author of more than 300 journal articles, he also wrote the
New York Times bestseller Living
Terrors: What America Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist
Catastrophe. His recent
papers on flu pandemic preparation have appeared in Foreign
the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature. Osterholm is a
fellow of both the American College of Epidemiology and the Infectious
Diseases Society of America.
The lecture honors Dr. John R. LaMontagne, former NIAID deputy
director (1998-2004) whose leadership and accomplishments in fighting
emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases earned him international
recognition, numerous accolades and widespread admiration.