Rollins hosts Infectious Disease Institute for high school students

By Sally Wolff King | Rollins School of Public Health | Aug. 30, 2013

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A three-week summer program introduced students to the study of infectious diseases with lectures and hands-on experience. Emory Photo/Video.

Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) welcomed 26 high school students from around the country this summer for the inaugural Infectious Disease Institute. Part of the longstanding Emory Pre-College Program, the three-week institute introduced students to the study of diseases that cause millions of deaths throughout the world.  

Rollins Infectious Disease Institute

Students participated in lectures led by RSPH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) experts and hands-on laboratory experiments with researchers from across the University. They also toured the mock Biosafety Level 4 training laboratory on the Emory Briarcliff property, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center Field Station, and the Animal Research and Training Facilities at Emory.  

Michael Mina, an MD/PhD candidate in the medical school and at RSPH, led the Infectious Disease Institute, aided by Laura Bloomfield, formerly with the Center for Global Safe Water at Emory and now an MD/PhD candidate at Stanford University. The institute evolved from a series of courses taught by Eugene Gangarosa, professor emeritus of global health; the late David Sencer, former CDC director; Michael Lane, former director of the CDC smallpox eradication program; and Mina for the Emory Pre-College Program.  

As Gangarosa notes, "Michael has institutionalized the academic link between the Pre-College Program and the Rollins School of Public Health."  

The goal behind the institute, says Mina, "is to train high school students in the basics of infectious disease research and analysis." They learn from "some of the world’s foremost thinkers in public health and infectious disease researchers who aim to inspire students to go out into the world and do great things for the betterment of society as a whole."  

RSPH Dean James Curran; William Foege, Presidential Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Health and former CDC director; and Gangarosa concluded the institute by talking with the high school students about their experiences with HIV/AIDS, smallpox, Guinea worm disease, polio, measles and other infectious diseases.    

Foege also offered some advice. "Instead of a life plan, work on a life philosophy," he told the students. "Follow your passion. Engage in science with a moral compass. See yourself as a problem-solver. You will have tools we never could have believed, and you can harness science in new ways."