Science & Technology

Scientist and entrepreneur kicks off UGA’s “Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard”

ATHENS, Ga. – Victoria Hale, an award-winning scientist and entrepreneur who defied skeptics by launching the first successful non-profit pharmaceutical company, will be the inaugural speaker for a new University of Georgia-sponsored lecture series featuring heroes in the global battle against premature death and disease.

Hale, founder and CEO of the Institute for OneWorld Health, will kick off the “Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard” series on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m. in the UGA Chapel. There is no charge for the lecture and advance tickets are not required.
In 2000, Hale founded OneWorld Health to address the lack of effective, safe and affordable drug treatments for malaria, diarrheal diseases and other tropical maladies that kill poor people around the world. Traditional pharmaceutical companies generally ignore these diseases and focus on making medicines for people who can pay for them.

Hale’s organization picks up promising drugs ignored by industry and determines whether they can help remedy neglected global health needs. For example, OneWorld Health sponsored clinical trials that demonstrated the effectiveness of a drug against visceral leishmaniasis, a disease infecting more than 1.5 million people. The organization is now in the final stages of bringing the drug to market in India.

Such work has not gone unnoticed. The Economist honored Hale with its 2005 Social and Economic Innovation award, and OneWorld Health was awarded the 2005 “Social Responsibility Award” at the prestigious Pharmaceutical Achievement Awards competition. In 2005, Reader’s Digest named Hale “Best Problem Solver” among “America’s 100 Best” in its annual survey, and the Skoll Foundation presented her with the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2004, Scientific American included Hale and OneWorld Health in its annual list of the 50 most outstanding acts of leadership in science and technology.

Hale earned her Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of California, San Francisco, where she is now an adjunct associate professor. She has helped create new medicines as a biotechnology company scientist and executive, regulated their development as a scientist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and advised the World Health Organization about drugs for the developing world.

“Victoria Hale’s lecture is the first of four by charismatic leaders in the battle against infectious diseases that disproportionately affect poor people worldwide,” noted Patricia Thomas, Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It’s easy to talk about alleviating misery and preventing unnecessary death around the world, but what makes these people special is that they’re actually doing something about this.”

Three additional programs are planned for Feb. 28, March 28, and April 18. All lectures will be held at 6 p.m. in the UGA Chapel, followed by a reception next door at Demosthenian Hall. The “Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard” lecture series is a joint effort of the Knight Chair and Daniel G. Colley, director of UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. For additional information, visit Funding for “Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard” is being provided by UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, the President’s Venture Fund and the Grady College Knight Chair in Health & Medical Journalism.

The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication provides seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, considered the electronic broadcasting industry’s most prestigious prize. For more information, visit