Monday, March 30, 2009

Pandemics, Infectious Diseases, and Public Policy

Engage in discussion with UNC-Chapel Hill scholars, researchers, and clinicians—four Thursday evenings, 7–9 pm, beginning April 2 at the Friday Center. What's the Big Idea? is presented by the Friday Center in partnership with Endeavors Magazine. Advance registration is required. Lectures are $10 each or all four for $30; further information is available online.

Spring 2009: Pandemics, Infectious Diseases, and Public Policy
Join us for four evenings of lectures by eminent UNC-Chapel Hill scholars and researchers to examine a topic that deserves serious focus in an ever-shrinking world. Infectious diseases can have small-scale local consequences as well as global effects. How is the medical community responding to research and the public’s need for knowledge and treatment? Are emergency management teams prepared? Are public policies in place to deal with a pandemic? Learn what UNC-Chapel Hill is doing to address these issues.

:: The Global HIV Pandemic 2008: Where Do We Go From Here?
Thursday, April 2, 7–9 pm

Thirty-six million people are living with HIV; sixteen million have died from the disease. Eighty percent of the HIV epidemic is in sub-Saharan Africa, and as many as one-third of adolescent girls in South Africa have acquired HIV by age 21. Why is the disease focused in this geographic location, and what are we doing about it? This presentation considers the global HIV pandemic with a focus on the disease in Africa and possible approaches to stopping the devastation of HIV.

Myron Cohen is associate vice chancellor for Medical Affairs-Global Health and director of the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases.

:: Social Forces and the HIV Epidemic: Why Some People Get HIV and Others Don't
Thursday, April 16, 7–9 pm

Poverty, incarceration, and segregation are some of the economic and social forces that disproportionately impact African Americans. This presentation will examine the ways that social and economic forces affect the distribution of HIV in the US population.

Ada Adimora is professor of medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

:: Geographical Analysis in Vaccine Trials: Concepts and Case Studies
Thursday, April 23, 7–9 pm

Trials are the gold-standard tool for evaluating the effectiveness of vaccines. However, some people question the utility of conventional vaccine trial methods, arguing that it is difficult to make decisions about whether or not to vaccinate diverse populations because, due to different social and environmental circumstances, vaccines might work better in some areas than others. This presentation will introduce “ecological vaccine trials,” which use geographical analysis to determine the circumstances in which a vaccine will work best. Case studies, including the trials for cholera and malaria vaccines, will be used to guide the discussion.

Michael Emch is associate professor of geography at UNC, a Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, and adjunct associate professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

:: Emerging Infections and Biodefense: Are We Doing Too Little or Too Much?
Thursday, April 30, 7–9 pm

This presentation will examine the national and regional response to the anthrax attacks of 2001. Now that we strongly suspect that the perpetrator of these attacks was a US scientist, many worry that a massive post-2001 increase in research intended to prevent or treat attacks with infectious diseases could paradoxically increase our risk of attacks from within. Are these fears justified? How do we protect ourselves against “rogue” scientists? Are there risks (the “dual use” problem) in conducting research on biodefense? How can we protect ourselves from dual-use threats? We also are increasingly aware of naturally emerging threats to our health that respect no geographical borders, including drug resistant tuberculosis and staphylococci, and a plethora of viruses. How great are the risks? What should be our responses to them? What is the proper balance between biodefense research and emerging infections research in an era of financial limitations?

Fred Sparling is professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the UNC School of Medicine and director of the Southeast Regional Center for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infections.

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