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Infectious-Disease Research: New center at University of Minnesota. (EH Update).

The University of Minnesota Academic Health Center has established a new Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and appointed Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., M.P.H., as its director. Osterholm, who has been a member of the university's adjunct faculty for 23 years, is the former state epidemiologist of Minnesota. He founded and for the past two years was chair of ican, Inc. Osterholm will have an appointment in the School of Public Health.

The new center, which will be self-supporting, secured initial funding of $500,000 from the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. Foundation for Education, Public Health and Social Justice (RKMC Foundation), which is dedicated to funding initiatives that challenge systems and offer creative solutions to today's problems. Other sources of private funds, grants, and donations are also being secured.

"We are pleased to invest in enhancing the Academic Health Center's reputation in public health," said Michael V. Ciresi, chair of the RKMC Foundation board. "We believe that Mike Osterholm will lead the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy to a worldwide leadership position."

The center's purpose is to conduct research and provide information to policy makers so that they can develop and change public policies to reduce illness and death from infectious disease.

The center will have four priorities in its first year of operation:

1. implementation of routine food irradiation;

2. evaluation and response to pharmaceutical-company marketing practices that affect antimicrobial resistance;

3. evaluation of and response to the current state of public health, infectious-disease medical practice, and preparedness for catastrophic events such as bioterrorism; and

4. raising awareness of handwashing as a primary means of reducing infectious-disease transmission.

The center also will address the readiness of the United States and other countries as they prepare to respond to the emerging issue of bioterrorism. "Dr. Osterholm has been a perceptive and powerful leader in addressing emerging and resurging infectious-disease threats ranging from food safety to bioterrorism," said Peggy Hamburg, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services and vice president of biological programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (a program privately supported by Ted Turner). "The center has the potential to make a national and international impact on our thinking around these critical public-health issues."
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Article Details
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Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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