Michael T. Osterholm

Regents Professor

Public Health, School of Public Health, 2015

Michael T. Osterholm is the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health; Distinguished University Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health; professor, Technological Leadership Institute in the College of Science and Engineering; and an adjunct professor in the School of Medicine. He also directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). A distinguished scholar, researcher, and educator, Osterholm has served as a pioneer and leader in the research and control of infectious diseases throughout the world. He has been a premier international leader regarding the use of biological agents as weapons targeting civilian populations. He served as an advisor to the late King Hussein of Jordan for seven years on bioterrorism and wrote a New York Times best selling book titled Living Terrors: What America Needs to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe. His book served as a blueprint for the U.S. government’s response to the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. Osterholm has defined the critical concerns regarding our preparedness for pandemics, including influenza. He is among the world’s leaders in developing a global, integrated, comprehensive, flexible, and rapid response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. And, he has provided a critical leadership role to governments in the Middle East to develop effective control measures for MERS. He is considered to be one of the nation’s foremost experts on issues of food safety and the investigation and response to food-borne illnesses. Osterholm is also known for his cutting-edge work on cold-water stream and tall grass prairie restoration, the implications of global just-in-time supply chains on critical product inventory and availability, the economic implications of global calamities, the impact of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota lakes and rivers, and public policy development.

Osterholm has a superb publication record. He has published on more than 34 infectious diseases and disease transmission topics. Of his 109 research publications, 39 have been in four of the highest-impact medical and science journals, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Science, and Nature. He has authored 100 research abstracts; 93 reviews, editorials, and letters in referenced journals; 21 book chapters; and one book. His papers have been cited more than 5,450 times in scientific literature in the past five years. Recently, he signed a contract to deliver a book on infectious diseases in a modern world for the general public. He also recently authored an authoritative and comprehensive review on Ebola transmission.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, honors, and recognition. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the Council of Foreign Relations. He was appointed to the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; named to the Academic Health Center’s Academy of Excellence in Health Research; and was appointed to the World Economic Forum Working Group on Pandemics. He received an honorary doctorate from Luther College; the Pump Handle Award, CSTE; the Charles C. Shepard Science Award, CDC; the Harvey W. Wiley Medal, FDA; the Squibb Award, IDSA; and the Wade Hampton Frost Leadership Award from the American Public Health Association, to name a few.

An outstanding teacher, mentor, and advisor, Osterholm received the University’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Post baccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education and the 2010 Outstanding Faculty Award from the University of Minnesota Council of Graduate Students. Osterholm has advised 92 graduate students and Epidemic Intelligence Officers from the CDC and formally mentored more than 270 other graduate students at the University. Over the past several years, he has lectured at 24 universities in six countries and delivered lectures to classes in 14 of the 19 schools or colleges on the Twin Cities campus. The impact of his teaching goes well beyond the classroom. Over the past year, CIDRAP, one of higher education’s first websites to offer current and comprehensive educational content on infectious disease preparedness, surveillance, and prevention, has had more than 1.5 million professionals and students from around the world access its content. He appears in the newspaper, on television, and on the radio around the world, making him the single most prominent University of Minnesota scientific authority in the media.

His commitment and dedication to service cuts across many areas of the University. Osterholm has served as a member of the University Faculty Senate and on the McKnight Selection Committee. Recently, he was asked to serve on the Provost’s Grand Challenges Research Committee. He plays a key role as an executive committee member with the Consortium on Law in Health, Environment and the Life Sciences, which works to coordinate activities among 19 University centers. He serves on the University’s Health Emergency Response Team and is actively involved with the food safety, security, and sustainability activities with the MnDRIVE initiative. He also serves as an expert advisor to the University’s Institutional Biosafety Committee. Osterholm is credited with assisting in securing world-class speakers for commencements and other important events. Additionally, he has volunteered countless hours to assist the University of Minnesota Foundation in fundraising activities. (Updated, 2015)

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