GUMC Professor Wins U.S. Health Award

Georgetown University Medical Center Professor of Pediatrics Phyllis Magrab was recently awarded the highest distinction given by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The Pioneer for Persons with Disabilities Award recognizes individuals who have devoted their lives to advocating for and supporting people with disabilities. Magrab, who is also the director of Georgetown University for Child and Human Development, has spent the last 40 years studying and working with children with disabilities and their families.

ore specifically, she has worked nationally and internationally with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on the Education for All initiative, which posits that all children deserve an education, even in the poorest countries. According to Magrab, 90 percent of children with disabilities in poor and developing countries do not go to school.

agrab is also involved with Laura Bush’s literacy initiative and has worked to promote the Americans with Disabilities Act. She has worked locally to improve conditions for people with disabilities in D.C. through her work with shelters, childcare centers and a developmental delay clinic.

agrab said she hopes that the award will help to promote her work at Georgetown as well as in the wider sphere. “It will hopefully draw attention to our community at Georgetown.”

agrab stressed that the field of disabilities needs advocacy and support. “It’s not as sexy as other fields, for example, finding out why 2-year-olds throw temper tantrums, but I find it compelling,” she said.

-Katie Kettle

alaria Fight Hits New Global Frontiers

The malaria epidemic is now being battled on both the technological and socio-political fronts, said Exxon Mobil medical director Steven Phillips and Ripley Ballou, deputy director of infectious diseases for the Gates Foundation at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Headquarters, in a lecture yesterday.

The lecture, sponsored by the Georgetown University Program on Science in the Public Interest, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center, was the last of a four-part lecture series that began at the end of last month.

At the technological level, Phillips said the focus is on the discovery of new cures, their development and their commercialization. Since there are four species of the malaria parasite, one vaccine will not cure all cases, Ballou said.

According to Ballou, up to 500 million people around the world are infected with malaria every year.

“[Malaria] is pointing out the gaps and crevices in global architecture,” Phillips said.

In the lecture, Ballou noted the five ways that the Gates Foundation focuses on five different areas to combat the malaria epidemic: vaccines, diagnostics, control measures, the use of tools and advocacy. According to Ballou, the foundation is currently concentrating its efforts on control measures such as bed nets, which contain insecticide and protect people while they sleep.

Other control measures include insecticides and indoor residual spraying of houses.

Exxon Mobil also has a business interest in preventing malaria, Phillips said. Africa, in conjunction with Exxon Mobil, will provide one-eighth of the world’s oil in the future, he said.

alaria, however, could threaten the health of their employees in Africa and their overall productivity. Phillips stressed that it is critical to abolish malaria in all of Africa.

-Alissa Lee

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