Kate Winslet Role in Contagion Inspired by CDC's Anne Schuchat '80

Alisa Giardinelli

Kate Winslet Role in Contagion
Inspired by CDC's Anne Schuchat '80

by Alisa Giardinelli
9/5/11

Kate Winslet in Contagion, Anne Schuchat '80
Kate Winslet in Contagion; Anne Schuchat '80.

The Kate Winslet role in Steven Soderbergh's Contagion is modeled after real-life infectious disease expert Anne Schuchat '80. During a visit to the Center for Disease Control's offices last year, the Oscar-winning actress spoke with Schuchat, the assistant surgeon general of the United States Public Health Service and director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, about how she works and her early days in the field. She even took pictures of Schuchat's shoes (comfortable ones that tie and feel like sneakers). The film, which premiered this weekend at the Venice Film Festival, opens nation-wide Sept. 9.

Schuchat, a one-time Swarthmore philosophy major, joined the CDC in 1988. In her career, she has headed the CDC's anthrax response team after 9/11, the World Health Organization's team in China during the SARS outbreak, and the 2009 H1N1 response. Her work has also included meningitis vaccine studies in West Africa and the prevention of infectious streptococcal disease in children. Schuchat will give the McCabe Lecture next month during Garnet Weekend.