This is an archived article.

August 2, 2007

Wasserheit named global health ambassador

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Dr. Judith N. Wasserheit, professor of  global health and medicine and vice chair of the Department of Global Health at the UW in the Schools of Medicine and Public Health & Community Medicine, has been named an ambassador in Research!America’s Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research.


Wasserheit is one of 51 of the nation’s foremost global health experts who have joined forces to increase awareness about the critical need for greater public and private investment by the United States in research to improve global health.


“Our nation’s leaders must understand that increased U.S. investment in global health research will not only help eliminate the profound health disparities between developing and industrialized countries, it will also help us address health disparities right here at home. In addition, it will prevent the emergence and spread of diseases that can endanger Americans here and abroad,” Wasserheit said.

She noted that today diseases like avian flu, SARS, drug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV infection know no borders.

Wasserheit is also an affiliate investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. She was formerly the director of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, the largest global clinical trials platform linking 28 sites on four continents in evaluating preventive HIV vaccines. Prior to that, she led the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for almost a decade after establishing and serving as the first chief of the STD Research Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She has had extensive experience in sexually transmitted disease research, policy development and program implementation, both in the U.S. and in developing countries.

Her research has included one of the first laparoscopic studies of pelvic inflammatory disease etiology conducted in the U.S., the first population-based study of the prevalence and etiologic spectrum of STDs among rural women on the Indian Subcontinent, and research on the interrelationships between STDs and contraceptive practices in other parts of the developing world, including Indonesia and Egypt. She has also worked in Colombia, Thailand and Zambia. Her development of the concept of epidemiological synergy between HIV infection and other STDs has had a major influence on HIV prevention policy and programs around the world.

Wasserheit will work to raise the visibility of global health research through the news media and in meetings with policy-makers, opinion leaders and the public. One of her central messages will be to stress the importance of effective collaboration among the nation’s government, industry, academic, patient advocacy and philanthropic research sectors.

“Investing in global health research is the smart thing to do for America and the right thing to do for the world,” said John Edward Porter, chair of the society’s advisory council and Research!America board chair.

“Dr. Wasserheit has personally seen the value of saving lives and protecting health around the world, and her insights will help bring this important story to more Americans.”

The society, named for Paul G. Rogers, a former Florida congressman and renowned champion for research to improve health, was established in 2006 by Research!America with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In its first two years, the Society’s Advisory Council — which includes three Nobel laureates — selected 51 of the nation’s leading scientist advocates to serve as ambassadors.

Research!America is the nation’s largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, it is supported by 500 member organizations that together represent the voices of more than 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org  for more information.