Public health threats focus of annual conference

Readiness for and recovery from public health threats will be highlighted at the eighth annual conference of the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis. Some of the topics that will be discussed are infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters and civil unrest.

The conference will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Eric P. Newman Education Center on the Medical Campus.

The conference is free and open to the public, but participants are asked to preregister.

“There always will be public health threats from natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, civil unrest and other circumstances,” said William G. Powderly, MD, director of the Institute for Public Health and the J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine. “While we can’t always predict the impact of these problems, we can improve our ability to prepare for and respond to them.

“This conference will hear from experts working on the ground in these areas and explore challenges and strategies that all public health students and professionals can learn from.”

Stephen Redd, MD, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will deliver the keynote address, “Organized Chaos: Lessons in Public Health Preparedness and Response from Local, State, Federal and Global Perspectives.”

Before joining the PHPR, Redd served as director of the CDC’s Influenza Coordination Unit. One of his roles was serving as incident commander during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic, which caused more than 12,000 deaths in the United States.

Formerly a rear admiral and assistant surgeon general in the U.S. Public Health Service, Redd has investigated disease outbreaks, developed strategies to control malaria and worked to eliminate measles in the United States.

Discussions about emergency preparedness will follow the keynote. Gary Christmann, commissioner with the City of St. Louis Emergency Management Agency, will address how to prepare for and respond to events ranging from large emergencies to catastrophic incidents; and Debbie Mays, director of safety and emergency preparedness for BJC HealthCare, will discuss how to develop and implement emergency and regional disaster preparedness. Regina Greer, vice president of community response at the United Way, will address how to respond to crises, recover from major disasters and handle civil unrest.

A panel will follow, and a poster session and refreshments will conclude the conference. Conference attendees may submit questions for the keynote speaker and panelists in advance via social media with #Prep4Peril or by emailing

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