Emerging and Persistent Infectious Diseases

Focus on Pandemic Preparedness

Join us for this interactive conference with leading scientists and policymakers.

April 11–12, 2014
Ursinus College
Collegeville, Pennsylvania

There is no registration fee to participate in this important community discussion. Registrants must be able to attend both days.



The Institute on Science for Global Policy (ISGP), in partnership with Ursinus College, announces a new conference model that links scientifically reliable information to the formulation and implementation of sound, effective domestic and international policies.  The distinctive, if not unique, ISGP model emphasizes critical debates and extended caucus discussions among highly credible scientists, policymakers, and the public to clarify scientific and technical understanding for the nonspecialists who are often charged with, or directly influence, local, national, and global policy decisions.  ISGP conferences also provide an opportunity for scientists to experience the challenging task routinely faced by those responsible for formulating and implementing effective policies involving scientific and technological issues. The model has been pioneered by the ISGP in a series of invitation-only conferences that gathered distinguished scientists and policymakers from throughout global communities to consider Emerging and Persistent Infectious Diseases, Food Safety, Security, and Defense, and Environmentally Compatible Energy.  Traditionally, all such ISGP conferences are conducted without attribution (i.e., under the Chatham House Rule) and without media engagement.   

The ISGP-Ursinus Conference announced here breaks new ground by opening these critical debates and caucuses to the public and the press.  The ISGP-Ursinus partnership makes it feasible for Ursinus students to organize and convene ISGP-styled conferences for their institution and members of the local community, without the restriction of the Chatham House Rule.  Under the control of Ursinus students, this conference will address some of the most important scientific and technological issues facing societies worldwide.

Sponsored by the Center for Science and the Common Good at Ursinus College, and supported by funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, this ISGP-Ursinus Conference emphasizes the importance of clear communication among the scientific community, policymakers, and the public.  


The conference program has two parts. Registrants must be able to attend both days.

Friday, April 11

10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

On Friday, the three internationally recognized scientists named above will debate their respective policy position papers on issues associated with pandemic preparedness and infectious diseases.  All three papers will be made available to the public through the Ursinus Web site by April 1st.  Through both their papers and contributions to the debates, the scientists will present their views of the current realities and the scientific opportunities and challenges, and their recommendations for policy.  The scientists will defend their positions in debate sessions that involve critical questioning by a panel of Ursinus students and faculty, scientists and physicians, and representatives from government, the private sector, and the community.  Members of the audience also will be able to submit written questions that are given to the moderator.  Representatives from the media will be invited to observe these debates, but will not be able to pose questions during the debates.


9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

On Saturday, all conference participants will join small-group caucuses, with priority given to audience members who attended the debates on Friday.  These caucuses will identify areas of consensus and actionable next steps to be considered by governmental and societal leaders.  The conference concludes after lunch, with a mid-afternoon plenary session that synthesizes the conclusions from all the individual caucuses.  Summaries of these conclusions and of the Friday debates will be prepared by Ursinus students and faculty in collaboration with ISGP staff and published with the scientists’ policy position papers in a publicly available book shortly after the conference.



George W. Korch

Senior Science Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Dr. Korch retired from the U.S. Army Medical Department in 2008, where he had served as Commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Department of Defense Medical Chemical and Biological Defense Research Program.  His area of expertise is in viral and rickettsial zoonotic diseases and in medical countermeasure development (vaccines, therapies and diagnostics) for biodefense needs.  



Prof. of Clinical Epidemiology, 
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
Dr. Morse's interests focus on epidemiology and risk assessment of infectious diseases (particularly emerging infections, including influenza), and improving disease early warning systems. In 2000, he returned to Columbia after 4 years in government as program manager for Biodefense at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Defense. His book, Emerging Viruses (Oxford University Press) was selected by "American Scientist" for its list of "100 Top Science Books of the 20th Century". 



Professor of Health Communication, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health 

Dr. Viswanath’s work, drawing from literatures in communication science, social epidemiology, and social and health behavior sciences, focuses on translational communication science to influence public health policy and practice. His primary research is in documenting the relationship between communication inequalities, poverty and health disparities, and knowledge translation to address health disparities. He has written more than 150 journal articles and book chapters concerning communication inequalities and health disparities, knowledge translation, public health communication campaigns, e-health and digital divide, public health preparedness and the delivery of health communication interventions to underserved populations.  He is the Co-Editor of three books: Mass Media, Social Control and Social Change (Iowa State University Press, 1999), Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research & Practice (Jossey Bass, 2008), and The Role of Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use (National Cancer Institute, 2008).   





Executive Director, ISGP, and former Science and Technology Adviser to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell
Dr. Atkinson’s academic experience includes classroom and graduate teaching, scientific research, and administration. In the private sector he launched a new high-technology sensor development company serving the semiconductor industry. In the U.S. government, Dr. Atkinson served in several capacities, including as the Science and Technology Adviser to U.S. Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.  In January 2008, Dr. Atkinson launched the new Institute on Science for Global Policy (ISGP). He was recently elected as President-elect of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

George H. Atkinson