Who is Michael Osterholm?

Dr. Osterholm is a Regents Professor, the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the Medical School at the University of Minnesota.  


Dr. Osterholm was selected to President-elect Joe Biden‘s 13-member Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board in November 2020. From June 2018 to May 2019, he served as the US Department of State’s Science Envoy for Health Security. He also serves on the Luther College Board of Regents in Decorah, Iowa.

He is the author of the New York Times best-selling 2017 book, Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, in which he not only details today’s most pressing infectious disease threats, but also lays out a nine-point strategy for dealing with them, preventing a global flu pandemic at the top of the list.  

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Inspiring Talks by Michael Osterholm


Notable quotes

  • “Mother Nature is the greatest bioterrorist of them all, with no financial limitations or ethical compunctions.”
  • “Like Abraham Lincoln, I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
  • “In any pandemic, effective leadership is critical, and the first responsibility of the president or the head of any nation is to offer accurate and up-to-date information, provided by public health experts, not agenda-oriented political operatives.”
  • “In a 2015 TED Talk, Bill Gates asserted, “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes”
  • “The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who finally succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism. I hope this evil can be averted. —SIR ALEXANDER FLEMING, MD”
  • “The battle lines are well-drawn: the microbes’ genetic simplicity and evolutionary swiftness against our intellect, creativity, and collective social and political will. We cannot overwhelm the pathogens, because they so vastly outnumber and outmaneuver us. Our survival depends on outsmarting them.”
  • “if you don’t know what you’re talking about, then don’t talk, or at least say you don’t know.”
  • “But to understand the true biologic sense of the power of microbes, we must never forget that we are the ones trying to anticipate and respond to their evolution, not the other way around.”
  • “Generally, seasonal flu is a remnant of a strain of the flu virus that once caused a pandemic.”
  • “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. —ATTRIBUTED TO WAYNE GRETZKY”
  • “encroachment of natural habitats that have brought animal reservoirs of disease to our doorsteps,”