St. Olaf College | News

MPR broadcasts Institute conversation with infectious disease expert Mike Osterholm

Minnesota Public Radio aired the St. Olaf College Institute for Freedom and Community’s recent conversation with infectious disease expert Mike Osterholm on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “MPR News Presents” program broadcast the discussion on air Thursday, November 12, and featured it on the broadcast web page.

The conversation, which was hosted by Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community Edmund Santurri, is part of the Institute’s fall 2020 series, The Presidential Election and a Nation in Crisis: Polarization, Pandemic, Prejudice.

Mike Osterholm has been appointed to President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus task force.
Mike Osterholm has been appointed to President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force.

Osterholm, who was just appointed to President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

He is the author of the News York Times best-selling 2017 book Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, in which he not only details the most pressing infectious disease threats of our day but lays out a nine-point strategy on how to address them, with preventing a global flu pandemic at the top of the list.

He told St. Olaf audience members that the nation is heading into a very difficult phase of its battle against COVID-19.

“We’re hitting the darkest days of this pandemic. The next 8-14 weeks, I think, are going to be absolutely horrible,” Osterholm said as he began the conversation. 

Osterholm is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) and the Council of Foreign Relations. In 2005 he was appointed by Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Michael Leavitt to the newly established National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity. In 2008 he was named to the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center’s Academy of Excellence in Health Research. Later that year, he was appointed to the World Economic Forum Working Group on Pandemics. From June 2018 through May 2019, he served as a Science Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

In addition to leading CIDRAP at the University of Minnesota, Osterholm is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, and Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health; a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute in the College of Science and Engineering; and an adjunct professor in the Medical School. 

Established at St. Olaf in 2014, the Institute for Freedom and Community encourages free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues. Through its range of programming for students, faculty, and the general public, the Institute offers a distinctive opportunity to cultivate civil discourse within the context of the liberal arts.

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