Fall Global Health Tuesdays explore infectious diseases, vaccines and migration

The fall 2022 Global Health Tuesdays explore infectious diseases, the state of vaccines and migrant health locally to globally.

With experts from across campus and around the world, the monthly seminars host researchers and practitioners from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and across the world. The speakers showcase the complexity of global health challenges and the many kinds of expertise needed to address them. By sharing their experiences with the campus and wide-ranging audiences, these guests provide insights into global health, encourage conversation, and help connect colleagues locally and globally.

Here’s a look at this semester’s seminars and speakers:

Understanding GHI’s One Health Centers

December 6, 2022
12:00-1:00 p.m. CDT
Watch the recording here.

Partnering across 21 schools, colleges and divisions, GHI’s work is grounded in a “One Health” ethic that recognizes the health of humans, animals and the planet’s ecosystems are inextricably linked. Over the next five years, GHI is establishing One Health Centers (GHI-OHC) in the Americas, Africa and Asia opening opportunities for new research, education and action to benefit humans, animals and ecosystems.

Panelists include GHI-OHC country leaders Peter Halfmann, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Juan Pablo Hernandez-Ortiz, National University of Colombia, Alhaji N’jai, University of Sierra Leone and Calyn Ostrowski, University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will discuss opportunities to connect academia, government, industry and communities in mutually beneficial relationships, broaden the understanding of health and disease, share lessons learned, spark new questions and address critical global challenges. GHI’s new Director Jorge Osorio will moderate.

  • Peter Halfmann, Ph.D., is a research associate and professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences in UW’s School of Veterinary Medicine. His research has focused on the biology and pathogenicity of Ebola virus. He developed a biologically contained Ebola virus to study the virus outside of high containment labs, and an inactivated vaccine candidate for Ebola virus that is in clinical trial in Japan. Halfmann is also a visiting research scientist at NIAID’s biosafety level-4 containment facility, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, where he carries out research on authentic filoviruses. During the West Africa Ebola outbreak, he established a research lab at 34 Military Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone with Dr. Alhaji N’jai where his research team examined host responses to Ebola virus infection in humans. Halfmann’s activities also include extensive research on the characterization of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.
  • Juan Pablo Hernandez-Ortiz, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Materials and Nanotechnology at the National University of Colombia. After completing his Ph.D. at UW-Madison in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Chemical Engineering, Hernandez-Ortiz dedicated his research efforts to multi-scale mathematical and statistical models to leverage knowledge of complex biological systems. and has focused his attention on guided molecular engineering towards personalized medicine platforms. He is also the director of the GHI-One Health Colombia Institute, which serves as an open-doors laboratory with unprecedented local capacities in molecular biology, pathogen discovery, immunobiology and more. More recently, with GHI Director Jorge Osorio, Hernandez-Ortiz cofounded VaxThera, a Colombian-based company that will produce vaccines and biologicals for Colombia and the region.
  • Alhaji N’jai, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the Departments of Microbiology, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) and Biological Sciences, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. He also holds a honorary research fellow position in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. N’jai is the founder and chief strategist for Project 1808, Inc, a nonprofit and Sierra Leone community-based organization, whose mission is to transform communities through education linked to service, innovation, cultural empowerment and skills development. Since 2014, he has led the Ebola control and infectious disease emerging in Africa (IDEA) initiative that has resulted in the establishment of international collaborative projects between the University of Sierra Leone and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. N’jai is currently a technical advisor for the Directorate of Health Securities and Emergencies at the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and a national consultant for the formation of the National Public Health Agency, and serves as chairman of the One Health Technical Working Group in Sierra Leone.
  • Calyn Ostrowski, MNO, is the associate director of strategic partnerships and development for UW-Madison’s Global Health Institute (GHI) where she leads philanthropic, research and academic partnerships to advance the interconnected issues of One Health. In 2022, Calyn led GHI’s research investigating industrial hemp’s versatility to advance the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to UW, she served as Managing Vice President for Business Development & Financial Empowerment at Summit Credit Union and executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions where she worked with cooperatives, trade associations and development partners to advance accessible financial services and products to communities worldwide. In 2008 – 2012, she managed the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Global Health Initiative — a top 10 global think tank — where she researched and facilitated policy-relevant dialogue events on the intersections of global health, maternal and reproductive health, equity and climate change to generate transdisciplinary solutions and catalyze global action for policymakers, civic leaders and public.
  • Jorge Osorio, DVM, Ph.D., M.S.,  is the director of the UW-Madison Global Health Institute and a professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Osorio has had a lengthy career in medical sciences, including virology, field epidemiological studies, vaccinology, antivirals and vector control programs. He is also the co-director of a Colombia-Wisconsin One Health Consortium, a joint effort between the University of Wisconsin and Universidad Nacional in Colombia that is studying emerging diseases and one-health issues. Osorio recently founded VaxThera, a Colombian-based company that will produce vaccines and biologicals for Colombia and the region. He was also a co-founder and chief Scientific officer of Inviragen, a biotechnology company that developed a novel chimeric tetravalent dengue vaccine that recently completed successfully Phase 3 clinical trials. He also developed vaccines against chikungunya, influenza, rabies, plague and many other emerging infectious diseases.

Connecting Climate Change, Infectious Diseases and Animal Behavior

September 27
4:30-5:30 p.m. CDT
Watch the recording here.

With Lyric Bartholomay, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-borne Diseases; Jonathan Patz, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Center for Sustainability & the Global Environment, Department of Population Health Sciences; Benjamin Zuckerberg, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology; and Moderator Tony Goldberg, Department of Pathobiological Sciences

The facts are startling: • From floods to heat waves to drought, the effects of climate change have been linked to more than half of infectious diseases in humans. • More than 60 percent of human infectious diseases originate in animals. • Modern climate also has well-documented effects of species and ecosystems across the world and is a threat multiplier of infectious diseases in wildlife populations.

The panel of UW experts will look at the connections between climate, infectious disease and animal behavior, looking at current research, immediate and future risks and planning for change.

  • Lyric Bartholomay, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Upper Midwestern Center of Excellence for Vector-borne Diseases. Her research spans public health entomology and basic vector biology, and her lab tracks and tests interventions for endemic and emerging vector-borne diseases in mosquitoes and ticks. She is also a member of the GHI Advisory Committee.
  • Jonathan Patz, M.D., MPH, Vilas Distinguished Professor and John P. Holton Endowed Chair of Health and the Environment, has dual appointments in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health. A pioneer in the effects of climate change on health, Patz was the inaugural director of the UW-Madison Global Health Institute, recently stepping down to pursue his climate and health work full time. He is a member of the GHI Transition Team. He served as lead author for the united Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC) for 15 years and co-chaired the health expert panel of the U.N. National Assessment on Climate Change. He recently co-authored a study that found 58 percent of human infectious disease has been worsened by climate hazards.
  • Benjamin Zuckerberg, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, he was a latecomer to ecology, but in his undergraduate years he quickly became fascinated by how birds respond to climate change. Zuckerberg received his Masters from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and doctorate from the State University of New York where he then went on to serve as a research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. His research focuses on how modern climate change and habitat loss influence wildlife behavior, abundance, and distribution. Members of his lab often work closely with natural resource managers to provide guidance on various aspects of climate change adaptation. He teaches a course on Climate Change Ecology and is a strong advocate for the role of community science in understanding how species will respond to the global pressures of the 21st century.
  • Tony Goldberg, DVM, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences whose research and teaching focus on the ecology, epidemiology and evolution of infectious diseases. The overall goal is to discover generalized mechanisms that govern pathogen transmission, evolution and emergence, and to improve the health and well-being of animals and humans while helping to conserve the rapidly changing ecosystems that we share. He is also a member of the GHI Advisory Committee.

Vaccines, Immunization and Fake News: Where are we now?

October 18, 2022
4:30-5:30 p.m.

Watch the recording here.

With COVID-19, vaccinations became a football in the culture wars in Wisconsin, the U.S. and beyond. With the COVID lockdowns and individual choice, children across the world missed essential vaccinations against diseases including measles and polio. Equally concerning is the continuing presence of fake news regarding vaccinations and the virus itself, and its impact on global vaccination rates. A panel of experts, including former Ambassador John Lange, senior fellow for Global Health Diplomacy at the United Nations Foundation, Dominique Brossard, professor and chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication in the College of Agicultural and Life Sciences and Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin’s Chief Medical Officer for the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, explore the status of vaccines, locally to globally. GHI Transition Team Member James Conway will moderate.

  • Dominique Brossard, M.S., MPS, Ph.D., is professor and chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Brossard’s research agenda focuses on the intersection between science, media and policy. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the International Communication Association, Brossard is an internationally known expert in public opinion dynamics related to controversial scientific issues. She is particularly interested in understanding the role of values in shaping public attitudes and using cross-cultural analysis to understand these processes. She has published more than 100 research articles and has been an expert panelist for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on various occasions.
  • John Lange, M.S., J.D., is a senior fellow for Global Health Diplomacy at the United Nations Foundation, as well as a member of GHI’s Board of Visitors. Ambassador Lange had a distinguished 28-year career in the Foreign Service at the U.S. Department of State, where he was a pioneer in the field of global health diplomacy. Lange is the author of a case study on pandemic influenza negotiations, has delivered numerous lectures and writes a blog on global health issues and has served on global health and security committees of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. He currently chairs the Leadership Team of the Measles & Rubella Initiative and earlier served as Co-Chair of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s Polio Partners Group.
  • Paul Hunter, M.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, associate director of the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine and director of the Ambulatory Acting Internship. He served as associate medical director of the City of Milwaukee Health Department from 2009 to 2019 and continues to provide backup consultations on communicable diseases. He also has worked with underserved patients at Federally Qualified Health Centers and free clinics in Milwaukee and Rockford.
  • James Conway, M.D., FAAP, is a pediatric infectious disease specialist who works both domestically and globally with programs designed to improve the lives of children. Conway’s projects largely involve training local professionals in the recognition and treatment of infectious conditions, and improving systems for prevention particularly through strengthening immunization programs. He has been involved with long term field programs in Thailand, Kenya and Ethiopia. He also works with the UW health science leaders to develop programs and partnerships for clinical education and outreach around the world.

Postponed: Refugees, Health & Trauma Informed Care

November 29, 2022
4:30-5:30 p.m.

Refugees are fleeing from war and violence across the world. UW experts from the Schools of Nursing and Law take a look at the health consequences and outcomes for those who have left their homes in hope for better lives. Karen Solheim, clinical professor emerita, and Pam McGranahan, clinical professor and director of the Doctorate of Nursing program, in the UW School of Nursing, and Erin Barbato, director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic in the School of Law, will examine the status of refugees in Wisconsin and across the world.