Politics and Pandemics

Wednesday, 11 November 2009 - 5:00pm6:30pm

Harrison Auditorium, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street

Politics and Pandemics

Helen Epstein

Author of The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa

Technological advances have improved the ease of international travel, and globalization motivates the unprecedented crisscrossing of the world that marks our era. The value of such cultural connection and communication has its disadvantages, including the specter of new and deadly diseases sweeping uncontrolled across the globe. Public health advocate Helen Epstein examines the political issues surrounding these fears.

Helen Epstein is an independent consultant and writer specializing in public health in developing countries, and is adjunct assistant professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. She has advised numerous organizations on HIV prevention and public health in developing countries, including the United States Agency for International Development, The World Bank, Human Rights Watch, and UNICEF. She writes frequently for various publications, including The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Granta and many other publications.

Perhaps best known for her work on HIV and AIDS, Epstein published in 2008 The Invisible Cure: Why we are Losing the Fight against AIDS in Africa (hardback title: The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West and the Fight against AIDS). The hardback was a New York Times Notable Book of 2007 and was rated top Science Book of 2007 by the editors at Amazon.com.

Epstein received her BA in Physics from the University of California Berkeley, her PhD in molecular biology from Cambridge University, and her MSc in Public Health in Developing Countries from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1993 she moved to Uganda in search of an AIDS vaccine. There she taught molecular biology in the medical school at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, until 1994.

Her research interests include the right to health care in developing countries and the relation between poverty and health in industrialized countries.