Laurie Garrett

Public health is a trust between the government and the people.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Speaker on Ebola, Zika, Global Health, and Prevention

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Laurie Garrett | Pulitzer Prize-Winning Speaker on Ebola, Zika, Global Health, and Prevention
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Laurie Garrett is one of America’s most trusted speakers on global public health, infectious disease, and, recently, the Ebola crisis and the emerging Zika virus. The only person to win the three P’s of journalism—the Pulitzer, the Polk, and the Peabody—she explains the science behind new threats, and navigates the politics that help, and hinder, how we prepare and how we respond to them. 

Author, speaker, and Foreign Policy columnist Laurie Garrett was Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York from 2004 to 2017.  She is the only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big Ps of journalism: the Peabody, the Polk, and the Pulitzer. Her expertise includes emerging diseases, epidemics, pandemics, drug resistance, bioterrorism, planetary health, and climate change.


“Displaying masterly craftsmanship . . . assiduously researched . . . Garrett’s message is loud, clear and convincing.”

Los Angeles Times on Betrayal of Trust

Garrett wrote her first bestselling book, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, while splitting her time between the Harvard School of Public Health and the New York newspaper, Newsday. During the 1990s, she continued tracking outbreaks and epidemics worldwide, noting the insufficient responses from global public health institutions in Zaire, India, Russia, most of the former USSR, Eastern Europe, and the United States. This resulted in the publication of the bestselling Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. The following year, Garrett covered the attacks on the World Trade Center and subsequent anthrax mailings, leading to her third book, I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks.


Among her most recent awards for her global health work and publishing are the 2014 NYU School of Medicine “Outstanding Contributions to Global Health,” and the 2015 Internationalism Award from the American Women for International Understanding. She has been named one of 10 “Remarkable Women of UC,” by the Board of Regents of the University of California. Garrett has been awarded four honorary PhDs, honoris causa, from Wesleyan University (Illinois), University of Massachusetts (Lowell), Georgetown University, and the Carl Icahn Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.


For more than two decades, Garrett has been much in demand as a lecturer, public speaker, analyst, and writer. Her appearances have ranged from Comedy Central to PBS, Oxford University to business conferences, Oprah to Charlie Rose. She has written and provided reportage for an enormous list of outlets including CNN, the BBC, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC Nightline, and hundreds more.


A native of Los Angeles, Garrett graduated with honors in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She attended graduate school in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at University of California, Berkeley, and did immunology research in the Herzenberg Lab of Stanford University. During the 1980s Garrett was a science correspondent for National Public Radio, having previously covered health, wars, and development issues in southern and eastern Africa as a freelance broadcast journalist. 

Speech Topics

Politics & Society
Betrayal of Trust Critical Issues in Global Healthcare

Based on her international travels to report on and research healthcare, Garrett delivers a sweeping, multimedia talk that uncovers the reality of healthcare in the United States, Europe, Russia and Africa—providing a new understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities of delivering quality healthcare to the global village.

Politics & Society
I Heard The Sirens Scream How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks

This powerful talk combines health issues, investigative journalism, and a personal minute-by-minute account of 9/11 to offer an astonishing view of a dark chapter in American life. A proud New Yorker who heard the first jet slam into the north tower, Garret raises fascinating questions around the World Trade Center attacks, the anthrax scare, and the mental trauma afflicting Americans during, and well after, 9/11. She captures the national mood as it veered from a united political place to a deeply divided anger. By the end of the winter of 2002, she reminds us, the arc had completed, from spectacular unity and confidence in governance to accusations of American arrogance. Through the frustrated anthrax investigations and drumbeats of war, the global community, especially Americans, moved in just a few months’ time from collectivism to fragmentation. Drawing on personal diary entries, and a deep understanding of health and government policy, Garrett's sweeping talk details repercussions of these historic events, transformations of critical government institutions, public health disasters, and, what, in particular, the specter of terrorism meant—and means—for the American people.

Global Politics
Understanding Ebola

Laurie Garrett actively covered the Ebola crisis of 2014—tweeting, blogging, and writing from both the United States and West Africa. She can speak to government agencies, corporations, and various other groups on the ramifications and long-term social, political, and economic impact of Ebola. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, recently wrote: “[Garrett's The Coming Plague] is worth the read to understand infectious outbreaks like Ebola and how we’re shaping our national response.”

Climate Science
Climate Change and Global Health Ending the Debate

To the timely debate over the impact of climate change on human health, Garrett offers this frank, hopeful talk. The health community, she says, is focusing on how climate change affects the movements of diseases, such as malaria. While these threats are serious, we must also look at how other consequences of climate change are already wreaking havoc on human health: catastrophic weather—resulting in flooding, famine and drought—is infecting and killing thousands; we must turn our attention toward preparedness. Garrett shows you where our efforts—activism, money, policy—need to go, and how urgently they need to get there.

Politics & Society
Bioterrorism The Modern Peril
It's a surreal, terrifying thought: terrorists using bio-chemical weapons. Garrett has investigated both the science and the politics behind international bio-terrorism, and, here, provides a responsible, informative assessment of who is capable, what form it might take, and how likely it is to happen.