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CDC’s Tauxe to kick off 2012 global diseases lecture series

Athens, Ga. – Dr. Robert Tauxe, a physician and public health expert who has spent his career battling illnesses transmitted by contaminated food and water, will open the seventh annual Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard lecture series on Jan 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the University of Georgia Chapel.

In his lecture on “Clean Water and Disease Prevention in the Developing World,”
Tauxe will talk about the ongoing struggle to protect people against hidden microbes. He’ll discuss his experiences as a disease detective for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the early days of AIDS as well as his subsequent experiences in North and South America, Africa and Europe. He will also speak on the cholera outbreaks following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which threatened an already fragile population and caused political upheaval.

“Rob has seen it all,” said Dan Colley, a UGA professor of microbiology and director of the UGA Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. “If you can drink it or eat it and get sick, he has studied it and often come up with ways to prevent it. He can also tell you about it in ways that are enlightening and memorable.”

Tauxe, an internal medicine specialist who earned his master of public health degree at Yale, has been with the CDC since 1985. He is deputy director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, which is part of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. His division is charged with preventing and controlling outbreaks of foodborne, waterborne and fungal infections. His team monitors U.S. infection rates, investigates outbreaks and develops strategies to reduce illness, disability and death.

Around the world, Tauxe has been part of efforts to make water safer in homes, schools, clinics and the marketplace.

The 2012 Voices from the Vanguard series continues Feb. 21 with a lecture by Sheila West, an expert on trachoma and blindness based at the Wilmer Eye Institute at John Hopkins University. Dr. Marc LaForce, who has spent the past 10 years developing a meningitis vaccine for Africa that is both effective and inexpensive, will speak on March 20. The 2012 series concludes on April 17 with field biologist and biodiversity expert Matt LeBreton of the Global Virus Forecasting Initiative, who looks for emerging infectious scourges among bush meat hunters and indigenous populations in Cameroon. All lectures will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the UGA Chapel, followed by a reception at Demosthenian Hall.

The “Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard” lecture series is a joint effort of Patricia Thomas, the UGA Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Daniel G. Colley, director of the UGA Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. For additional information, see

Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in journalism, advertising, public relations, digital and broadcast journalism and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.