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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 9, 2003

NOTE TO EDITORS: Michael T. Osterholm will be available to speak with reporters from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, in the North Room of the Iowa Memorial Union. Osterholm's formal remarks begin at 12:15 p.m. in the Main Lounge of the IMU. Reporters are invited to attend the lecture.

UI College Of Public Health Names 2003 Hansen Award Winner

The University of Iowa College of Public Health has selected Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., professor of public health and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, to receive the 2003 Richard and Barbara Hansen Leadership Award and Distinguished Lectureship.

On Oct. 22, Osterholm will deliver the Hansen Distinguished Lecture, "Emerging Infections: The New Infectious Disease Frontier," at 12:15 p.m. in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Osterholm, a native of Waukon, Iowa, is a noted public health scientist whose areas of expertise include bioterrorism, antibiotic resistance, food safety and infectious disease. He served for 24 years in the Minnesota Department of Health, including 15 years as state epidemiologist and chief of the Acute Disease Epidemiology Section. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he served as a special advisor to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson on issues related to bioterrorism and public health preparedness. He continues to advise Sec. Thompson and Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on emerging infectious diseases, including SARS. Osterholm is also the author of the best-selling book, "Living Terrors: What America Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe."

"Mike's instincts, decisiveness and action make him one of this generation's greatest and most respected public health leaders," noted Gerberding in a letter supporting Osterholm's nomination for the Hansen Award. "He is truly a national treasure when it comes to public service and public health leadership."

The Hansen Award is a $10,000 prize given annually by the UI College of Public Health to honor individuals who have made sustained contributions in the health field. The award recognizes exemplary leadership, high ethical standards and an enduring commitment to improving health care on a national and international level. The award is made possible by a gift from Richard and Barbara Hansen of Iowa City. The Hansen's gift, made in 2000, was the first contribution in the College of Public Health's Founding Partner program.

During his visit to the UI campus, Osterholm will also meet with students and faculty to discuss his research, participate in seminars and engage in roundtable discussions. He is also scheduled to meet with local legislators and community officials.

"The issues surrounding emerging infectious diseases, their potential as bioterrorism agents and the need for society to be prepared to handle disease outbreaks are among the most pressing public health concerns facing Iowa and the nation. There is no one more qualified to address this topic than Dr. Osterholm," said James Merchant, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the College of Public Health. "Through the generosity of Richard and Barbara Hansen, we are delighted to be able to honor Dr. Osterholm, a national and international leader and native Iowan, and bring him to the University of Iowa campus."

While now widely recognized for his leadership in detailing the potential use of biological agents as weapons against civilians, Osterholm has spent most of his nearly 30-year career on the front lines of infectious disease epidemiology.

"He has led numerous investigations of outbreaks of international importance, including food-borne illnesses, the association of tampons and toxic shock syndrome, the transmission of hepatitis B in health care settings and HIV infection in health care workers," said Mark Becker, Ph.D., dean of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "While at the Minnesota Department of Health, his team conducted numerous studies regarding infectious diseases in childcare settings, vaccine-preventable diseases, Lyme disease and other emerging infections. They were also among the first to call attention to the changing epidemiology of foodborne diseases."

For more information about the Hansen Award, visit

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health, Office of Communications, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dan McMillan, 319-335-6835,