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April 8, 2024

Addressing the Problem of Trust in Science and Public Health

Event Series: Global Public Health Seminars

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf greets a medical professional during the COVID-19 pandemic

Trust is critical because disease control requires collective action. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, advocates found it easier to criticize the science than to weigh the harms and benefits. To ensure trustworthiness, Michael Stoto, professor emeritus in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the School of Health at Georgetown University, maintains that the primary mission of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health agencies in the United States should be providing public health intelligence rather than setting policy. This mission requires the CDC to be more proactive by providing accurate and useful situational awareness to state health departments and hospitals and leading efforts to synthesize existing and generate new epidemiologic information needed to inform policy decisions. In this seminar, Stoto delved into and addressed this problem of trust in science and public health.

This event was open to all Georgetown University faculty, students, staff, and affiliates.

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Global Health Science and Security, the School of Health’s Department of Health Management and Policy, and the Global Health Institute.


Michael Stoto is professor emeritus in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the School of Health at Georgetown University. A statistician, epidemiologist, and health services researcher, his research focuses on public health systems, especially with regard to emergency preparedness, infectious disease policy, and drug and vaccine safety. During the COVID-19 pandemic, his research has focused on surveillance and data systems and other aspects of public health policy and practice from the local to global level. He is working with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the University of Bologna on the assessment of public health emergency capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications of the monitoring and assessment of public health emergency preparedness.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Governor Tom Wolf