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Water and Health

Water and Health

Friday, November 13, 2009

The New York Academy of Sciences

During his presidential campaign, then Senator Barack Obama was frequently heard to exclaim that "water is one of the grand challenges facing the 21st century." Since his election President Obama has highlighted several aspects of this pressing issue, including universal access to clean water, the increasingly complex politics of water, and the crumbling water infrastructure which poses threats in even the most economically developed nations. None of this is news to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and its legion of researchers who have been actively engaged in water science since the early 20th century when Abel Wolman pioneered the chlorinating process for public water supplies. To echo President Obama's call to action, and to publicize the challenges posed, the Bloomberg School will be hosting a symposium on water on Friday, November 13, at the New York Academy of Sciences offices in lower Manhattan.

Presented by

Photo credit: Shehzad Noorani

Connecting Human Rights and Public Health

Chris Beyrer (Johns Hopkins University)


12:30 PM


1:15 PM

Introductory Remarks


Ellis Rubinstein, The New York Academy of Sciences


Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

1:30 PM

Rita R. Colwell, PhD, University of Maryland College Park

2:00 PM

Peter Courtland Agre, MD, Bloomberg School of Public Health

2:30 PM

Erik R. Peterson, MBA, MA, Center for Strategic and International Studies

3:00 PM

Kellogg Schwab, PhD, MS, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

3:30 PM


4:00 PM

Panel Discussion
Moderator: Kellogg Schwab, PhD, MS, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

5:30 PM



Organizing Committee

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Peter Courtland Agre, MD

Bloomberg School of Public Health

A native Minnesotan, Peter Agre studied chemistry at Augsburg College (B.A. 1970) and medicine at Johns Hopkins (M.D. 1974). He completed his residency at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and an Oncology Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Agre joined the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine faculty in 1984 and rose to the rank of Professor of Biological Chemistry and Professor of Medicine. In 2005, Agre moved to the Duke University School of Medicine where he served as Vice Chancellor for Science and Technology and James B. Duke Professor of Cell Biology. Agre returned to Johns Hopkins in January 2008, where he is University Professor and Director of the Malaria Research Institute at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2003, Agre shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering aquaporins, a family of water channel proteins found throughout nature and is responsible for numerous physiological processes in humans and is implicated in multiple clinical disorders. Agre has received other honors including 15 honorary doctorates, Commandership in the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit from King Harald V, and the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Agre is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine for which he chaired and serves on the Committee on Human Rights. In February 2009, Agre became President of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.

Rita R. Colwell, PhD

University of Maryland College Park, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and CosmosID, Inc.

Dr. Rita Colwell is Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Senior Advisor and Chairman Emeritus, Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., and President and CEO of CosmosID, Inc. Her interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health, and she is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world. Dr. Colwell served as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, 1998-2004. In her capacity as NSF Director, she served as Co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. One of her major interests include K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering. Dr. Colwell has held many advisory positions in the U.S. Government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. She is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 700 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film, Invisible Seas, and has served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. Before going to NSF, Dr. Colwell was President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University Maryland. She was also a member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990. Dr. Colwell has previously served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology and also as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Microbiology, the Sigma Xi National Science Honorary Society, and the International Union of Microbiological Societies. Dr. Colwell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, the Royal Society of Canada, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She is President of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). Dr. Colwell has also been awarded 54 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education, including her Alma Mater, Purdue University and is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, bestowed by the Emperor of Japan, and the 2006 National Medal of Science awarded by the President of the United States. Dr. Colwell is an honorary member of the microbiological societies of the UK, Australia, France, Israel, Bangladesh, and the U.S. and has held several honorary professorships, including the University of Queensland, Australia. A geological site in Antarctica, Colwell Massif, has been named in recognition of her work in the polar regions. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Dr. Colwell holds a B.S. in Bacteriology and an M.S. in Genetics, from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Washington.

Erik R. Peterson, MBA, MA

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Erik Peterson is senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan and non-profit think tank on foreign policy and national security issues. Erik also serves as Director of the Global Strategy Institute—a “think tank within a think tank” he established at CSIS in 2003 to assess long-range trends. He also holds the CSIS William A. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis, and endowed chair named in honor of Merrill Lynch Chairman Emeritus Bill Schreyer. Prior to assuming his role as Director of the Global Strategy Institute, Erik was Director of Studies at CSIS. In that capacity, from 1993 to 2002, he oversaw and coordinated programs, projects and publications across the organization. Before joining CSIS, Erik was director of research at Kissinger Associates, the international consulting firm chaired by former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger (who is also a longstanding member of the CSIS Board of Trustees). Erik serves on several advisory boards, including the X Prize Foundation, the Center for Global Business Studies at Pennsylvania State University, and the Center for the Study of the Presidency. He has also served as a fellow of the World Economic Forum and a member of the Forum’s Global Risk Network. In October 2008, he was appointed Visiting Scholar at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Erik lectures regularly for a wide array of U.S. government institutions, including Army Medical Strategic Leadership Program, Army War College, Coast Guard, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of State, Interagency Institute for Federal Health Care Executives, Internal Revenue Service, Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Defense University, Proteus, Reserve Forces Policy Board, and USAID. The author of several publications, Erik is now completing a book on global strategic trends and their effects on governance structures in societies across the world. Together with Rachel Posner, he is author of Water and Energy Futures in an Urbanized Asia: Sustaining the Tiger (December 2007) and Global Water Futures: A Roadmap for Future U.S. Policy (September 2008). Erik contributed a chapter entitled Scanning the More Distant Future to For the Common Good: The Ethics of Leadership in the 21st Century (Praeger, 2006). A sought-after public speaker represented by Leading Authorities, Erik has addressed numerous groups and lectured in 48 U.S. states and 22 countries. Erik received his M.B.A. from the Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania, his M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University SAIS, and his B.A. from Colby College. He holds the Certificate of Eastern European Studies from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and the Certificate in International Legal Studies from The Hague Academy of International Law (The Netherlands).

Kellogg Schwab, PhD, MS

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Kellogg Schwab, PhD, MS is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the JHU Center for Water and Health. In January 2009, in collaboration with JHU colleagues, Dr. Schwab initiated the JHU Global Water Program. This program integrates Hopkins researchers from public health, engineering, behavior, policy and economic disciplines to address the critical triangle of water, food and energy. The goal of this program is to achieve sustainable, scalable solutions for disparate water needs both internationally and domestically. Dr. Schwab’s research focuses on environmental microbiology and engineering with an emphasis on the fate and transport of pathogenic microorganisms in water, food and the environment. Applying advanced molecular diagnostic tools, he has developed and participated in multiple research projects designed to evaluate the public health impacts of improving water access and potable water quality, the effectiveness of point-of-use water treatment, and the health effects of inadequate management of human and animal waste. He has also been involved in assessing novel water treatment processes and developing approaches for microbial risk assessment. Recent international work has focused on evidence-based assessments of point of use and community level water treatment systems designed to provide potable water to individuals in low income countries. Dr. Schwab earned his masters and doctoral degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine prior to joining JHU.


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