November 7, 2011

Outbreaks: Experts discuss roles of social media, medical response teams

Anthony S. Fauci, the renowned longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his groundbreaking work in battling the HIV/AIDS pandemic and establishing national biodefense programs, will lead a panel of disaster preparedness experts today, Nov. 7, as part of this fall’s Johns Hopkins Medicine Distinguished Speaker Series.

The topic of the free public event, to be held from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Anne and Mike Armstrong Medical Education Building on Johns Hopkins’ East Baltimore medical campus, is “Viral Reaction: Emergent Disease in an Increasingly Connected Society,” and panelists will discuss the implications for science, medicine and policy.

Fauci, an internationally recognized authority on global infectious diseases and an immunologist, will be joined by speakers from the Johns Hopkins University schools of Medicine and Public Health to discuss how planning for, and responding to, disease outbreaks has changed in today’s wired and technologically mobile society.

Johns Hopkins chose the topic in part because of the popularity of the recently released film Contagion, a fictitious account of a global disease outbreak. The presentations will be grounded in real-life crises stemming from the outbreaks of influenza A (H1N1) in 2009, multidrug-resistant TB in 2007 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and 2003.

The panel discussion, followed by a question-and-answer session for the audience, will be chaired by Atul Nakhasi, a Johns Hopkins first-year medical student and head of the speaker series, and will conclude with a public reception.

Fauci, who was a 2007 recipient of the Lasker Award for Public Service, will be joined on the panel by Johns Hopkins faculty members Katherine Clegg Smith, a sociologist with expertise in how people respond to news and social media during an outbreak; Jonathan Links, a medical physicist and Baltimore City’s pandemic and influenza planning adviser; Joshua Epstein, an expert in social and behavioral computer modeling of disease outbreaks and their spread; Khalil Ghanem, an internist and infectious disease specialist; and event moderator Tom Quinn, an infectious disease specialist and expert in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, and director of Johns Hopkins’ Center for Global Health.