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Director of U.S. Office of Public Health Preparedness to Speak at Conference

Visit Also Marks Official Opening of New Biomedical Research Building

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Donald A. (D.A.) Henderson, M.D., director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Public Health and Preparedness and the man widely credited with the eradication of smallpox, will visit the University of Rochester Medical Center May 10 for the Convergence 2002 conference. He will also attend an event marking the official opening of the Medical Center’s new biomedical research building.

Henderson, a 1954 graduate of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, will be the keynote speaker at the Convergence 2002 conference at 9:00 a.m. on May 10th in the Kornberg building. This year’s Convergence conference will address the urgent need to explore how medical science can partner with industry to combat the global threat of bioterrorism. In addition to lay sessions on the science of bioterrorism, Convergence will feature an afternoon roundtable discussion, moderated by Norm Silverstein, president and CEO of WXXI Public Broadcasting, with participants from academia, government, and industry.

Henderson directed the World Health Organization’s global smallpox eradication campaign from 1966 to 1977.  His visit to the University of Rochester Medical Center holds particular significance because the Medical Center was one of four sites in the nation to participate in a recent clinical study to determine the effectiveness of a diluted smallpox vaccine. The study, published April 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrated that a diluted smallpox vaccine is just as effective as a full dose in provoking the body’s defenses to fight off the virus.

“When I was working on the smallpox vaccine, no one could have imagined that one day there would be a very real threat that the smallpox virus could be deliberately spread as an act of terrorism,” said Dr. Henderson.  “The type of medical research conducted at Rochester is indispensable in our nation’s prevention against and preparedness for acts of bioterrorism.”

“We are delighted to have an esteemed alumnus like Dr. Henderson participate in Convergence 2002 and in our celebration of the official opening of the biomedical research building,” said Dr. Jay H. Stein, M.D., Strong Health CEO and senior vice president and vice provost for health affairs at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Dr. Henderson’s work exemplifies all we aspire to at the Medical Center — to develop an understanding of the molecular causes of disease so that the knowledge can be applied to urgent healthcare needs.”

Convergence was established by the University of Rochester Medical Center as an annual New York State forum for bringing scientists together with entrepreneurs, industrial innovators, investors, and government leaders. The conference takes place in two sessions: a morning session focused on science and an afternoon session that features a moderated discussion in the round.

The afternoon session, facilitated by Norm Silverstein, will broadcast live at 2:10 p.m. on WXXI-AM 1370 and will be streamed live on  Participants include Dr. Henderson, Dr. Russell W. Bessette, Executive Director of the New York Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR), Dr. Kent Gardner, Director of Economic Analysis at the Center for Governmental Research, Dr. Nancy Weyl, President of Logical Images, Inc., Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, Senator Michael F. Nozzolio, and others.

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