Charge to Anne Schuchat '80
Honorary Degree Citation
Anne Schuchat, you are a world-renowned investigator of infectious disease, whose work has significantly advanced the frontiers of science, saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and brought public recognition to measures of disease prevention that will save immeasurably more.
You grew up dreaming of becoming a doctor, and in 1980 graduated from Swarthmore with Highest Honors, a major in philosophy, a minor in biology, and three poetry prizes in tow. You received an M.D. from Dartmouth Medical School in 1984. After completing a residency in internal medicine at the Manhattan Veteran's Administration Hospital, you joined the Center for Disease Control. There you have risen through an extraordinary range of responsibilities, from Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, through Assistant Section Chief for Food Borne Diseases, through Medical Epidemiologist in Childhood and Respiratory Diseases, to head of the Respiratory Diseases Branch, to your current position as Acting Director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases.
One of your first projects at the CDC sent you to Costa Rica, to investigate a serious outbreak of neonatal listeriosis, which you successfully traced to a shared bottle of contaminated mineral oil used to wash new-born babies. You introduced new habits for washing that now keep infants safe from the disease.
Your continuing accomplishments have included responding to a multi-state outbreak of salmonella linked to tomato contamination; establishing a field site in Africa for testing and treating infants with meningitis; assisting the World Health Organization to make pneumonia vaccine available in third world countries; and putting in place policies that protect against Group B Streptococcal infection, including the policy that all pregnant women undergo prenatal Group B Streptococcal screening. Before these measures were enacted 8,000 babies a year got GBS, of whom one in twenty died. With these measures in place, the infection rate has dropped by about 80 percent.
Soon after 9/11, you were named head of the CDC's Anthrax Emergency Response team, charged with investigating the anthrax spore-laden envelopes sent to government officials in Washington, D.C.
And during the SARS outbreak in China, you headed WHO's Beijing-based epidemiology and disease control team, developing protocols for rapid evaluation of the outbreak's evolution and assisting Chinese public health staff with a massive medical and public health emergency response.
Alongside your investigatory and administrative work, you have authored over 150 articles and book chapters; taught, at Emory University School of Medicine, and now at the CDC; and have been honored with the Meritorious Service Medal as well as the Charles C. Shepard Science Award, the CDC Minority Health Research Award, and the American Public Health Association Maternal and Child Health Award.
Anne Schuchat, your leadership in organizing rapid and effective response to medical emergencies, in unraveling medical mysteries, and in instituting preventative public health measures is internationally admired; and countless individuals here, and around our globe, owe, and will owe, their health and lives to your work. Your alma mater is deeply proud to claim you as one of our own.
Upon the recommendation of the faculty, and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Science.