MLTalks: Challenges in the Fight Against Ebola

November 20, 2014


MIT Media Lab, 3rd Floor Atrium


Partners in Health (PIH) and its collaborators on the ground in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea have been playing a critical role in the fight against Ebola. To date, Ebola has killed more than 5,000 people, and continues to wreak havoc in the region. What are the facts from the ground? What technological tools are lacking that could be used to limit the current outbreak?

Ophelia Dahl of Partners in Health (PIH) will discuss the current state of events on the ground in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and PIH's response, as well as her recent trip to West Africa. In addition, PIH's director of research, Dr. Megan Murray, will discuss the Ebola research agenda.


Ophelia Dahl has been advocating for the health and rights of poor people for nearly 30 years. In 1983, she volunteered at the small Eye Care Haiti clinic in Haiti’s impoverished Central Plateau. There she met Paul Farmer, and they have been working ever since to deliver high-quality health care to the destitute sick. Dahl has served as executive director of PIH since 2001 and as chair of the board since 2000. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the recipient of the Union Medal by Union Theological Seminary. Dahl is chairman of Dahl & Dahl LLP, which manages the literary estate of her late father, the writer Roald Dahl. She also serves as vice president on the board of Roald Dahl’s Museum and Story Centre. 

Dr. Megan Murray, MD, MPH, ScD is an epidemiologist and an infectious disease physician with over 25 years of experience in the management of TB programs and TB epidemiology, as well as the transmission dynamics of emerging infectious diseases. She is a professor of global health and social medicine and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, where she leads the Global Health Research Core, a multidisciplinary group of researchers who work with the Global Health Delivery Partnership faculty and staff to develop its mission to link research to the teaching and service activities of the partnership. She is also a professor of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and the director of research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Global Health Equity and its sister organization, Partners In Health. Dr. Murray has conducted field studies in Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, and the US, and has previously worked in Kenya, Niger, and Pakistan. She is a member of the working group on New Diagnostics for the Stop TB Partnership, and served on the Gates Foundation’s External Advisory Committee on Tuberculosis and the Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Project Independent Expert Group Panel. 

Media Lab director Joi Ito is a leading thinker and writer on innovation, global technology policy, and the role of the Internet in transforming society in substantial and positive ways. A vocal advocate of emergent democracy, privacy, and Internet freedom, Ito has served as both board chair and CEO of Creative Commons, and sits on the boards of Sony Corporation, Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The New York Times Company, and The Mozilla Foundation. In Japan, he was a founder of Digital Garage, and helped establish and later became CEO of the country’s first commercial Internet service provider. He was an early investor in numerous companies, including Flickr, Six Apart, Last.fm, littleBits, Formlabs, Kickstarter, and Twitter. Ito’s honors include TIME magazine’s "Cyber-Elite” listing in 1997 (at age 31) and selection as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum (2001). In 2008, BusinessWeek named him one of the "25 Most Influential People on the Web." In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute. In 2013, he received an honorary D.Litt from The New School in New York City. In 2014, he was one of the recipients of the Golden Plate award from the Academy of Achievement. 

Sierra Leone native, engineer, and designer David Moinina Sengeh is a PhD student in the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab. His work focuses on the design of comfortable prosthetic sockets and wearable interfaces. His undergraduate research at Harvard focused on making a stable, aerosolized BCG vaccine against tuberculosis for optimal lung delivery. He has worked in over 15 countries on projects related to education, healthcare delivery, and medical devices. A social entrepreneur, David is president and co-founder of the international NGO Global Minimum Inc. His many honors include the Lemelson-MIT National Student Prize, Forbes 30 under 30 in Technology (2013), the Wired Smart List (2013), and a 2014 TED Fellowship.

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