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EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2002

Laurie Garret, Newsday, USA

Biography

Laurie Garrett is the only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big "Ps" of journalism: The Peabody, The Polk, and The Pulitzer.

Garrett has been honored with two doctorates in humane letters honoris causa, from Wesleyan Illinois University and the University of Massachussetts, Lowell.

Garrett is the author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. She is a medical and science writer for Newsday, in New York City. Garrett was born in Los Angeles, a 5th generation Los Angeleno. She graduated with honors in biology from the University of California in Santa Cruz. She attended graduate school in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at UC Berkeley and did research at Stanford University in the laboratory of Dr. Leonard Herzenberg. During her PhD studies, Garrett started reporting on science news at KPFA, a local radio station. The hobby soon became far more interesting than graduate school and she took a leave of absence to explore journalism. Garrett never completed her PhD.

At KPFA Garrett worked in management, in news and in radio documentary production. A documentary series she co-produced with Adi Gevins won the 1977 George Foster Peabody Award in Broadcasting, and other KPFA production efforts by Garrett won the Armstrong and CPB Awards.

After leaving KPFA Garrett worked briefly in the California Department of Food and Agriculture assessing the human health impacts of pesticide use. She then went overseas, living and working in southern Europe and subsaharan Africa, freelance reporting for Pacifica Radio, Pacific News Service, BBC-Radio, Reuters, Associated Press and others.

She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and served as the organization,s President during the mid-1990s.

Abstract

The gaps: Wealth, life expectancy, public health infrastructure and the big global killers

Four widening global gaps threaten still more infectious disease emergence: wealth, life expectancy, public health infrastructure and perception. The wealth gap has reached startling proportions, with 6 individuals now commanding a combined wealth that exceeds the combined GNPs of the 43 poorest nations. Life expectancy now has reached historic levels, with the gap between longest v shortest life expectancy for nations nearly reaching 50 years. The public health infrastructure gap, within wealthy nations, is bad enough, but between rich and poor world is staggering. And the perception gap, brought into sharp relief after 9 November 2001, finds wealthy nations perceiving threat as bioterroismderived, immigrant-related or food-sourced, while the majority of the planet views threat as an every day occurrence, structurally integrated into their societies and environments.