November 21, 2008

Good Morning:

Back in November 2001, Tulane's faculty and administrative leaders discussed the importance of making the university's wealth of knowledge and expertise more accessible to the general public in order to enhance and improve people's lives. From these discussions the Presidential Symposium was born, evolving into a biannual series whose panelists would include experts not only from Tulane but from around the world.

The theme of the first symposium, which took place just two months after the 9/11 attacks, was "Bioterrorism: What You Need To Know." This year's symposium, "Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Risks," will tackle another subject that has made headlines recently: the threat of various strains of influenza, SARS, HIV, antibiotic-resistant microorganisms and other infectious diseases engulfing our increasingly interconnected world.

The symposium will feature a free public session by prize-winning author John Barry, whose New York Times best-seller "The Great Influenza" chronicles the 1918 flu pandemic. John's talk will take place at 6 p.m., Dec. 4, in the Freeman Auditorium of the Woldenberg Art Center. The symposium will also feature a series of discussions for the scientific community by leading national experts. For more information visit the symposium website.

This year's symposium coincides with the Dec. 5 dedication of Tulane's new Regional Biosafety Laboratory, a $27.5 million, state-of-the-art research lab within the Tulane National Primate Research Center. This laboratory is dedicated to reducing the threat posed by infectious diseases by developing treatments, vaccines and diagnostics both for those infectious diseases that occur naturally as well as infectious agents that may be used by terrorists. The facility is one of only 13 National Institutes of Health-supported Biosafety Level 3 laboratories in the country. Biosafety Level 3 is a designation for labs built with strict safety standards to study airborne contaminants and infectious diseases.

I urge as many of you as possible to attend this year's Presidential Symposium. Arming ourselves with the facts (not fear) and enlisting Tulane's formidable research assets in the fight, offer us the best defense against any threat to our community's health.

Have a great weekend,


Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638