Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was the keynote speaker at the 128th annual Shattuck Lecture “Epidemics Going Viral: Innovation vs. Nature” on April 27. The event was hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine.
The free live web event convened researchers, clinicians, and public health officials with firsthand experience combating epidemics.
Following his talk on the role of innovation in reducing the impact of future epidemics, Gates participated in a conversation with Michelle Williams, SM, ScD, Dean of the Faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“The world today isn’t fully ready for the next global pandemic, but we are beginning to assemble an arsenal of new tools to help protect people from deadly pathogens,” said Gates.
The five-hour summit included a panel discussion to analyze lessons from past epidemics that can be applied to combating future outbreaks. In another session, panelists reflected on their experiences and the unique challenges that arise in conducting research at epidemic sites around the world. Speakers included:
Anne Schuchat, MD, Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Harvey Fineberg, MD, PhD, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; former President, Institute of Medicine
Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, former CDC Director; President and Chief Executive Officer, Resolve to Save Lives
Jeremy Farrar, OBE, FRCP, FRS, Director, Wellcome Trust
“In the last 20 years, the medical community has confronted SARS, Ebola, and Zika outbreaks,” said Jeffrey Drazen, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. “In each case, the epidemic was contained, but not without significant losses of life or devastating impact. What if we could work together, faster, to contain – or prevent – these epidemics? It is my hope that this is our future. Those gathered for this event have the reach to make this more of a reality.”