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Speaker Bio: Laurie Garrett

Laurie Garrett

Author, speaker and Foreign Policy columnist Laurie Garrett was senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York from 2004-2017.  In 2018 Garrett founded the Anthropos Initiative, which engages at the nexus of the Anthropocene, climate change and human health. And she is a featured columnist for Foreign Policy magazine, and frequent contributing writer for The Lancet.

Ms. Garrett is the only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big "Ps" of journalism: the Peabody, the Polk, and the Pulitzer. Her expertise includes emerging diseases, epidemics, pandemics, drug resistance, bioterrorism, planetary health and climate change.

Laurie Garrett wrote her first bestselling book, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, while splitting her time between the Harvard School of Public Health and the New York newspaper, Newsday. During the 1990s Garrett continued tracking outbreaks and epidemics worldwide, noting the insufficient responses from global public health institutions in Zaire, India, Russia and most of the former USSR, Eastern Europe, and the United States. This resulted in publication in 2000 of the best-selling Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. The following year Garrett covered the attacks on the World Trade Center and subsequent anthrax mailings, leading to her third book, I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks.

A native of Los Angeles, Garrett graduated with honors in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She attended graduate school in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at University of California, Berkeley and did immunology research in the Herzenberg Lab of Stanford University, where the FACS was invented and used to sort living human cells of the immune system, determining their functions – a vital set of discoveries that included identifying CD4 cells just five years before the emergence of HIV, allowing speedy recognition that the virus’ primary target were the CD4s.

During the 1980s Garrett was a science correspondent for National Public Radio, having previously covered health, wars and development issues in southern and eastern Africa as a freelance broadcast journalist.

Among her most recent awards for her global health work and publishing are the 2014 NYU School of Medicine “Outstanding Contributions to Global Health,” and the 2015 Internationalism Award from the American Women for International Understanding. In 2017 she was named one of 10 “Remarkable Women of UC,” by the Board of Regents of the University of California.

Garrett has been awarded four honorary PhDs, honoris causa, from Wesleyan University (Illinois), University of Massachusetts (Lowell), Georgetown University and the Carl Icahn Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

For more than two decades Laurie Garrett has been much in demand as a lecturer, public speaker, analyst and writer. Since 1990 Garrett has delivered more than thirty commencement addresses for distinguished universities, including for several schools of public health and medical schools. Her appearances have ranged from Comedy Central to PBS, Oxford University to business conferences, Oprah to Charlie Rose. She has delivered five TED, TEDX and TEDMed talks, two POPTech speeches and given presentations at the World Economic Forum, Aspen Ideas Festival, several World Health Summits,and many more.

She has written and provided reportage for an enormous list of outlets including CNN, the BBC, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC Nightline, Foreign Affairs, and hundreds more. Garrett was one of three scientific advisors for the Warner Brothers motion picture, Contagion, directed by Stephen Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon (2011). Garrett’s work in the Ebola outbreaks in Sierra Leone and Libera was filmed as part of CNN’s “Unseen Enemy” documentary (2017). And her book, The Coming Plague, was produced as a six-part documentary series for CNN (1997).

Over the years Garrett has contributed chapters to numerous books, including AIDS In the World, edited by Jonathan Mann, Daniel Tarantola and Thomas Netter, Oxford University Press, 1993; Disease in Evolution: Global Changes and Emergence of Infectious Diseases, Mary E. Wilson, edit., New York Academy of Sciences, 1994; AIDS: The Women, Edited by Ines Rieder and Patricia Ruppelt, Cleis Press, 1988; Understanding Cancer, edited by Mark Renneker, 1978; How Did This Happen? Terrorism and the New War, edited by James Hoge, Public Affairs, 2001; Beyond Humanitarianism, edited by Princeton Lyman, 2007, The Best of 2013, foreign affairs, edited by Gideon Rose, 2014.

During her time as Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, Garrett has written several reports and articles including: HIV and National Security: Where are the Links?, A Council Report (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 2005); ‘The Next Pandemic?’ (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005); ‘The Lessons of HIV/AIDS’ (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005); and ‘The Challenge of Global Health’ (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2007), The Future of Foreign Assistance Amid Global Economic and Financial Crisis, (Council on Foreign Relations Action Plan 2009).

Garrett has been the subject of some books, including Covering the Plague by James Kinsella (1989); Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes by Richard C. Clarke & R.P. Eddy (2018).

Garrett is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and served as the organization’s President during the mid-1990s. She currently serves on the advisory board and final judging panel for the Noguchi Africa Prize. She served on the Board of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights (2006-2009) and the Health Worker Global Policy Advisory Group (2005) and as a Principal in the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) from 2007 to 2011. From 2015-2017 Garrett served on the Harvard/London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine commission analyzing the world response to the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic, resulting in two major reports appearing in The Lancet and the British Medical Journal.

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