The University of Texas at Austin
  • Historian joins Bill Gates' anti-polio efforts

    By Gary Susswein, College of Liberal Arts
    Gary Susswein, College of Liberal Arts
    Published: Jan. 27, 2011
    Historian
    History Professor David Oshinsky won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for his book "Polio: An American Story."Photo: Marsha Miller

    Polio has been reduced by 99 percent and scientists believe they are close to eradicating it completely — only the second time in history a human disease would be wiped from the face of the Earth.

    University of Texas at Austin historian David Oshinsky, who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for his book on the history of polio, is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help make that happen.

    “Bill and Melinda Gates have dedicated themselves to help protect the world’s children from deadly diseases. Vaccination, of course, is one of the most successful ways to achieve this goal,” says Oshinsky, who holds the Jack S. Blanton, Sr. Chair in History and is a Distinguished Teaching Professor. “I’m thrilled to be a small part of the Gates initiative, which will focus on the global eradication of polio.”

    Microsoft founder Bill Gates has praised Oshinsky’s book “Polio: An American Story” (Oxford University Press, 2005). Now, the two men are joining in conversation with scientists and global leaders to focus attention on polio eradication and the power of vaccines. To see their discussion about these efforts, moderated by journalist Diane Sawyer, visit www.gatesfoundation.org.

    “Bill Gates was impressed by the story behind my book, which showed how the generous voluntary spirit of the American people defeated this devastating paralytic disease and how, in the process, the campaign against polio revolutionized both philanthropy and medical research,” says Oshinsky. “Bill and Melinda Gates believe, as I do, that these lessons can be applied to the global eradication effort, and that polio will be wiped from the face of the Earth.”

    Visit www.gatesfoundation.org to watch the live stream of the panel discussion Monday, Jan. 31, 8:30 a.m. CST.

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