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About the Speakers

Short biographies of speakers

Jennifer Badham, PhD
Centre for Research in social simulation – University of Surrey, UK

Dr. Jennifer Badham is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Social Simulation (CRESS), at the University of Surrey. CRESS is developing the TELL ME simulation model to investigate the effect of different communication plans on adoption of protective behaviour and hence the impact of a hypothetical influenza epidemic. Jen originally trained as a mathematician and developed an interest in applying mathematical modelling methods to social policy while working for government and nongovernment health organisations in Australia. Before joining CRESS, she was developing materials about using models for multidisciplinary and participatory policy development with the Integration and Implementation Sciences program at the Australian National University, while completing the studies necessary to convert to social science. Her main research interest concerns the way that social structures affect transmission – of disease, information, beliefs and behaviour. This brings together aspects of social simulation, network science and social psychology.

Dimitris Dimitriou
Zadig Srl., Italy

Mr. Dimitris Dimitriou holds an MSc in Health Psychology (City University of London) and a MSc in Environmental Psychology (University of Surrey). After having served as a researcher in various non-governmental organisations in Greece and the UK, hejoined the British Standard Institution (BSI) in London in 2006, where he served as a policy analyst  and consultant in large-scale projects. In 2010, hejoined an association for the social support of youth (ARSIS) in Greece, as a principal investigator in an EU project entitled “Sexual abuse against children in residential institutions”, funded within the scope of the DAPHNE III Programme. For three years, heserved as a research fellow at the Centre for Science, Society and Citizenship (CSSC) in Rome, where he participated in various FP7 projects as scientific researcher, assistant project coordinator and member of ethical advisory boards. Presently, Dimitris serves as senior researcher at Zadig Srl, and is involved in two public health and communications related projects funded by the European Commission within the scope of FP7. His current research interests include risk and crisis communications under an ethical, societal and psychological perspective, as well as ethical and legal implications in the use of new surveillance technologies.

Kare Harald Drager
The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS)

Mr. K. Harald Drager is the founding member of the worldwide acting society TIEMS (The International Emergency Management Society -, which he took the initiative to establish in 1993. He was the International Vice President of TIEMS since its inauguration until 2002, when he took over as TIEMS President, a position he was re-elected to for the 5th time in 2013. He has brought in new ideas and new people in TIEMS and succeeded the organization to span worldwide. TIEMS has under his leadership become the well recognized organization with growing activities in Asia and Europe and now TIEMS activity in Americas, Africa and Oceania is emerging. TIEMS has developed to a global well known organization with local chapters in many regions/countries, and TIEMS arranges each year workshops and conferences all over the world with focus on disaster risk reduction. TIEMS has also initiated development of a global education, training and certification program and a research coordination service for its members, and recently several Task Force Groups.He has an extensive experience from industry and research activity, especially in emergency and risk management and he acts as the Managing Director of QUASAR Invest AS in Norway, a consultancy in global safety, emergency and disaster management. He has a Master’s degree in control engineering from the Norwegian Technical University in 1966 and a Master’s degree from Purdue University in USA in industrial engineering in 1973. His specializations are international organizational development, emergency, disaster and risk management and project management. He has done consultancy work for numerous clients internationally amongst others the World Bank/International Finance Corporation, NATO and the European Commission, and he has been project manager of several international research and development projects for methods and software development in risk, emergency and disaster management. He was employed by Det norske Veritas, 1967 and a member of the Board of Directors of the company for 5 years until he left the company in 1983 and founded his own consultancy, AS QUASAR Consultants and later QUASAR Invest AS. He has published numerous papers internationally on emergency, risk and disaster management.He was appointed Professor Chair in 2014 at King Abdulaziz Universityin Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Nigel Dowdall,  MSc MBChB MFOM MRCGP Dip Av Med DRCOG
Civil Aviation Authority, UK

Dr. Nigel Dowdall joined the Royal Air Force as a medical cadet in 1979 and during his service completed training in General Practice, Aviation and Occupational Medicine.  He retired from the Royal Air Force and joined British Airways (BA) as an occupational physician in 1996 and was appointed Director Health Services in 2004. After leaving BA in 2010, he held part-time appointments as CMO to AXA Assistance UK and as a medical officer at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), before being appointed to his present role as Head of the Aviation Health Unit at the CAA in 2011.  During his career he has been actively involved in the response to a number of major public health events, including the SARS outbreak, polonium contamination of aircraft, the H1N1 pandemic and the current Ebola outbreak.

Karl Ekdahl,  MD, PhD, MSc, DTM&H
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

Prof. Karl Ekdahl is head of the Public Health Capacity and Communication Unit at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), where he is responsible for the Centre’s activities related to preparedness, training and communication. In ECDC, he was the first expert in place at the start-up of the agency in 2005 and he has since then held various senior positions including acting Director. He is a specialist in infectious diseases, and prior to joining ECDC he was Deputy State Epidemiologist for Sweden. In 2007, he was appointed Adjunct Professor in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. He is also the former Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal Eurosurveillance.

Bernardino Fantini, PhD
WHO Collaborating Centre for the Historical Research on Public Health- Geneva Medical School, Switzerland

Prof. Bernardino Fantini is Honorary Professor of History of Medicine and Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for the Historical Research on Public Health. Since 2009 he is co-responsable of theFocus Music and Emotion of the National Center of Competence in Affective Sciences, Geneva. After a PhD in biochemistry in Rome, he has got a PhD in History and Philosophy of Life Sciences at the EPHE-Sorbonne, Paris, in 1992. Full Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Geneva from 1992 to 2013.His main research subjects are the history of infectious diseases and international health, the epistemology of biology and medicine and the history of relationships between medicine, science and music.

Jeff French, PhD, MBA, MSc, DipHE, BA, Cert.Ed. 
Strategic Social Marketing Ltd, UK

Prof. Jeff French is a global leader in Social Marketing and social programme planning and evaluation and health communication. Jeff has published over 90 papers and three books. Jeff is a Professor at Brighton University and a Fellow at Kings College London University. Previously Director of Policy and Communication at the UK Health Development Agency and a senior civil servant in the UK Department of Health. In 2005 Jeff led the UK government review of Social Marketing and set up the National Social Marketing Centre in 2006. In 2009 Jeff became the CEO of Strategic Social Marketing Ltd. Jeff has worked on behaviour change, health communication and social policy programmes in over 29 countries and has just completed a planning guide on social marketing for the European Centre for Disease Control. Jeff has worked on many occasions for WHO on health promotion and communication issues and is a member of the E-Com pandemic communication project funded by the EU.

Anat Gesser-Edelsburg,  PhD
School of Public Health – University of Haifa, Israel

Dr. Anat Gesser-Edelsburg is the Head of Health Promotion Department, Haifa University School of Public Health, an adjunct lecturer at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications, IDC, and a senior researcher at the Participatory Social Marketing Program, Tel-Aviv University. Anat received her B.A. (Summa Cum Laude) and Ph.D. (with Distinction) degrees from Tel-Aviv University, and The Wolf Foundation Award for Ph.D. Students. She completed her postdoctoral research at The Minerva Center for Human Rights, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Faculty of Law following being awarded the Vidal Angel Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research against Hate and Bigotry.  Anat research has been supported by many academic, NGO's and governmental institutions. She has co-authored Talking Pupils, a recommended textbook for criminology and sociology studies and Peace and Tolerance Encouragement among Youth by Using Theatre: Are Educational Plays an Important and Effective Tool? Which treats the multifaceted issue of peace through entertainment-educationand theories of psychological health and wellbeing.Research interests:Health and risk communication, social marketing, entertainment-education, health promotion and persuasive communication.

Donato Greco, MD
ASSET Project – Zadig Srl., Italy

Dr. Donato Greco is a medical doctor specialized in Communicable disease, hygiene and public health, epidemiology  and medical biostatistics. Working for 32 years in the National Institute of Health (ISS) of Italy where directed the Lab. Of epidemiology and biostatistics, then Director general of prevention at Minister of health for four years . As DG of Prevention at the Ministry of Health of Italy he was in charge of the Influenza Pandemic preparedness and as National Epidemiologist at ISS he investigated some hundred of epidemics in Italy and in several other countries, including a severe Ebola outbreak. He has intensive collaborations with WHO and the European Union, namely with the European Centrefor DiseasePrevention andControl. Actually, he is a senior research fellow on two large EU FP7 project s, TELL ME and ASSET as quality officer. He is author of more than 150 scientific publicationsand from many years teaching epidemiological methods in Italian universities. He was awarded of Italian gold medal for public health.

Manfred Green, MD, PhD
School of Public Health – University of Haifa, Israel

Prof. Manfred Green holds a BSc (Hons) in mathematical statistics from the University of Witwatersrand, an MSc degree in operations research and an MBChB (MD equivalent) from the University of Cape Town, and MPH and PhD degrees in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is board specialized in public health, occupational medicine and medical administration.  Between 1994 and 2008, he was director of the newly established Israel Center for Disease Control and was a full professor in the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, headed the department of epidemiology and held the endowed Diana and Stanley Steyer Chair of the Prevention and Control of Cancer. Between 2008-2014, he was head of the School of Public Health at the University of Haifa and is currently a professor in the school. Research interests include epidemiology methodology, the epidemiology of chronic diseases, emerging infectious diseases, the prevention and management of potential bioterrorism incidents and health effects of climate change. He is member of a number of national councils, including those for the control of heart disease, vaccine preventable diseases, cancer and preparedness for emerging infectious diseases, bioterrorism and pandemic influenza. In addition, he is chairman of the scientific committee of the regional Research and Development Center in the Arab town of Kfar Kara. He is currently the coordinator of the TELL ME project.

Itamar Grotto, MD, MPH, PhD
Ministry of Health, Israel

Prof. Itamar Grotto is the director of the Public Health Services in the Israeli Ministry of Health. He is responsible for the operation of all preventive services and health promotion programs operated by the Israeli Ministry of Health. These activities include primary and secondary prevention programs, outbreak response, environmental health, food safety and health promotion among all health suppliers. Prof. Grotto is also affiliated with the Public Health Department of Ben-Gurion University in Israel. His main research activities are in the fields of infectious diseases epidemiology and health behaviors among adolescents and young adults, as well as public health policy development.

Anna Kolliakou, PhD
King’s College London, UK

Dr. Anna Kolliakou has a BA (Hons) in Psychology (University of Essex) and an MSc in Clinical and Public Health Aspects of Addiction (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience - IoPPN, King’s College London). After having served as a researcher on health services, genetic and addiction projects at the IoPPN, she joined the Psychosis Studies Department in 2008 where she completed a PhD on patterns of cannabis use in first-episode psychosis. Since the beginning of 2014, she has been working as a post-doctoral researcher on PHEME, an EC-funded project, which aims to model, identify and verify rumours as they spread across media, languages and social networks. Anna’s role at the NIHR-SLAM Biomedical Research Centre at the IoPPN focuses on developing the mental healthcare branch of the project, where PHEME’s new veracity intelligence methods will be tested and validated, through a series of case studies on legal highs, medication, self-harm/ suicide and stigma.

Simon Langdon
CEDARthree Ltd, UK

Mr. Simon Langdon, director of CEDARthree Limited, is an acknowledged authority on Crisis and Incident Management and is a winner of the CSI Business Continuity Consultant of the Year Award. Simon was part of the British Standard Institute (BSI) Working Group which developed the new standard for Crisis Management BS11200 which was published in May 2014. Simon has operational experience of responding to major incidents, including terrorism, in UK and internationally. He has worked with a number of major organisations including central and regional government, the European Commission, the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), British Airways, the BBC, the UK Strategic Rail Authority and the European Patent Organisation. He has also worked in the oil and gas industry in the Middle East, in telecommunications, the Health Service and on the impact of climate change in South East Asia.  Simon was chairman of the International Disaster and Emergency Resilience conference (IDER) which was held in April 2014 in Malmo, Sweden. (

Pier Luigi Lopalco, MD
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

Prof. Pier Luigi Lopalco is Associate Professor of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bari (Italy). In 2005 he joined the ECDC, where has been Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme and is currently leading the Scientific Assessment Section. His research activity has been focused on infectious disease epidemiology and prevention. He is co-author of about 120 scientific articles in peer reviewed journals and several chapters in scientific textbooks. Recently he has co-authored a chapter in the textbook Vaccines 6th Edition by Plotkin S., Orenstein W., and Offit P. 

Brian McCloskey, MD, FFPH
Public Health England, UK

Dr. Brian McCloskey has worked in public health at local, regional, national and international level over a period of 25 years. A director of public health in successive local health authorities in England from 1988 to 2002, Brian then worked as Deputy Regional Director of Public Health in the Regional Government Office, West Midlands, with an interest in health protection. In 2004 he joined the Health Protection Agency with a remit for emergency planning and responsibility for cross government aspects of the agency’s response to major emergencies. Brian was involved nationally in the HPA’s response to the London bombings in 2005, and the Buncefield Oil Depot fire in 2005, as well as flooding incidents in 2007, and pandemic flu in 2009. In September 2008, Brian became Regional Director for the HPA in London where he had the lead role in planning for the 2012 London Olympics. Brian has been working with WHO’s Mass Gatherings Advisory Group since 2008, helping develop their public health guidance and planning toolkit and is head of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Mass Gatherings working with mass gatherings such as the World Cup in South Africa as well as the London Olympics. Brian took on the role of Director of Global Health for Public Health England in April 2013. Brian acted as PHE’s National Incident Director for Ebola when it became a national incident in 2014 and in October 2014 was seconded to work with the UN Special Envoy on Ebola, based in Geneva. In the January 2013 New Year’s Honours List, Brian was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to public health.

Toby L. Merlin, MD
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA

Dr. Toby L. Merlin is Director of the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Disease at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this role, he is responsible for the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network (LRN), infectious disease emergency response coordination, and Emerging Infections Epidemiology and Laboratory capacity programs, Health Economics and Modeling Unit, and Arctic Investigations Program. He previously served as Deputy Director of the Influenza Coordination Unit and served as Deputy Incident Commander of CDC’s Response to 2009 H1N1 Influenza.  Dr. Merlin received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Yale College and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Florida. He served an internship at Stanford University Hospital and completed his training in pathology at the University of New Mexico. From 1984 until 1992 he served on the faculty of the departments of Pathology and Internal Medicine at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, where he performed research in the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and was Associate Professor of Pathology, Vice-chairman of the Department of Pathology, and Chief of Laboratory Services at the Veterans Administration Hospital. Dr. Merlin has been a member and Chair of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee (CLIAC). He has also served on the editorial boards of Human Pathology and the International Journal of Surgical Pathology, as well as various test committees on the National Board of Medical Examiners and committees of Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute.  Dr. Merlin joined CDC in 2003 from Lovelace Health Systems in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he served as Senior Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer and an officer of the Board of Directors. Dr. Merlin also served as Chair of the Department of Laboratories and an elected member of the Medical Practice Board.

Valentina Possenti
Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), Italy

Ms. Valentina Possenti is a researcher at the National Centre for Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion (CNESPS) of the Italian Institute of Public Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità; ISS) since 2006. She finalized graduated studies in Communication and post-graduated in Health Economics. To date she has gained ten years of experience in working on national and international projects about epidemiology, surveillance and prevention, health promotion and communication which are based on wide-ranged professional networks. She is author and co-author of several articles, papers and contributions in reviews and conferences/congresses either nationally or internationally.

Paul Quinn
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Mr. Paul Quinn is currently a PhD candidate, and hopes to finalise his PhD in the coming year. His thesis concerns the Justiciability of Stigmatizing Public Statements Made by the State. Paul Quinn started as a researcher at the VUB in 2010. Since then he has worked on a number of European FP7 Research Projects including REACTION (involving the development of remote monitoring systems for diabetes), Moving Life (the creation of Roadmaps for the deployment of mHealth in Europe) and TELL ME (the development of strategies for vaccination communication). Paul has actively published in the last few years in the areas of cross border healthcare, privacy and safety in eHealth/mHealth and also on issues of stigmatisation. Paul is a (non practicing) Barrister in England and Wales and in addition to his legal degrees (LLM, MA) also has a bachelor degree in biochemistry (BsC).

Francesca Russo, MD
Hygiene and Public Health Promotion and Development Unit – Veneto Region, Italy

Dr. Francesca Russo is medical doctor specialized in Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, with 11 year-experience as Head of Infectious Diseases at the Local Health Authority Ulss 4 Alto vicentino. Since 6 years she is Director of Hygiene and Public Health Promotion and Development Sector at Veneto Region. In particular she is responsible for the surveillance and control of communicable and non communicable diseases. She is in charge of vaccination programs, coordination of cancer prevention programs, development and implementation of healthy life style programs for the population, coordination of action plans during emergencies and control of infectious disease outbreaks (e.g. West Nile disease, Flu, Ebola, etc.) or for environmental emergencies (e.g. contamination of drinking water by perfluoroalkyl substances). She sees to the development of training and communications plans as well as to the budget and human resources management allocated to her Sector”.She is also responsible for coordination of interregional public health activities at ministerial level.

Alexander Talbott
Representing the British Medical Journal Publishing Group, UK

Mr. Alexander Talbott has a BSc in Biological Science and a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Communications in Healthcare and has interests in science communication, healthcare communication and genetic modification in agriculture. He has worked in NHS communications departments across healthcare commissioning and provider organisations. While working for the NHS Alex started the Twitter account @nhssm which brings together NHS staff and the general public to talk about social media use in the NHS. He now works as a freelance communications consultant with NHS and healthcare related organisations on a range of digital and writing projects.

Alberto E. Tozzi,  MD
Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, Italy

Dr. Alberto Tozzi is a pediatrician and an epidemiologist with experience in vaccine trials and in surveillance of infectious diseases. He has worked as a researcher with the Italian National Health Institute for more than 15 years. In this period he has worked in several projects concerning the prevention of nosocomial infections, HIV infection in children, and surveillance of transmissible diseases. In this area he had responsibilities in surveillance of enteric bacteria and haemolytic uremic syndrome, in surveillance of pertussis at the European level, and in supporting recommendations on immunization in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Health. He has been part of the coordination group of a large clinical trial on acellular pertussis vaccines that involved nearly 16000 Italian children. He was also responsible for a study on the effect of thimerosal contained in vaccines on neuropsychological development of children, funded by the US Centers for Disease Control.  In 2004 Dr Tozzi moved to the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, a large clinical and research centre where he joined the epidemiology unit. In this period he continued to work in vaccine preventable diseases with studies on the epidemiology of rotavirus, on conjugate pneumococcal vaccines and pneumococcal infections, on immunization of children with chronic diseases, on determinants of carrier state for MRSA in children, and on the immunological memory in children who received hepatitis B vaccines. He has been also a consultant for WHO for activities on polio eradication and for the investigation on a cluster of severe adverse events to vaccines in India. He is also a component of the Expert Vaccine Group of the European Center for Diseases Control. Dr Tozzi is associate editor of Frontiers in Public Health for Digital Health. He performed several KAP studies in different segments of the populations relevant to vaccine attitudes. He has been appointed as scientific responsible for communication of the Italian Pediatric Society and has used web social platforms for communication of scientific information to the general public. He is currently running a study entirely based on an internet platform, for the promotion of preconception counselling. His research activities are currently focused on mathematical models for explaining social contacts in a community and predicting the spread of infectious diseases. He has been affiliated to the American Medical Informatics Association, the Council for Communication and Media and the Council on Clinical Information Technology of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has served in 2009-10 the Medical University of Tanzania as a professor in Clinical Epidemiology and preventive medicine for students in pediatrics. Dr Tozzi is currently responsible of the research area of Multifactorial Diseases and Complex Phenotypes and of the Telemedicine Unit of the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital.