Campus News

‘Critical Conversation’ to focus on child and maternal health

By SUE WUETCHER

Published October 8, 2015

John Borrazzo

A leader in maternal and child health will give the keynote address in UB’s third annual “Critical Conversations,” a presidential series showcasing distinguished individuals at the forefront of their fields who are helping to shape understanding of vital issues facing the world today.

John Borrazzo, chief of the Maternal and Child Health Division (MCH), Bureau for Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will discuss “Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Death: Working Across Sectors to Make the Vision a Reality” at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Student Union Theater, North Campus. A reception will follow the talk in the Student Union Social Hall.

Borrazzo will discuss the new Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations last month to further reduce the maternal and child global mortality rate, and the opportunities and challenges involved in aligning activities in health, education, nutrition, water and sanitation, infrastructure and energy to ensure that critical interventions reach the most vulnerable populations. The ultimate goal, he says, is to end preventable child and maternal deaths in a generation. 

On Oct. 22, Borrazzo will take part in an interdisciplinary panel discussion with UB faculty on “Beyond the Ivory Tower: Disciplinary Perspectives to Address Global Health Challenges” at 12:30 p.m. in 105 Harriman Hall, North Campus. A complimentary lunch will be available, beginning at noon, to those who register in advance.

In addition to Borrazzo, panelists will include Shaanta Murshid, assistant professor, School of Social Work; Sarah Robert, assistant professor, Department of Learning and Instruction, Graduate School of Education; Luke Scannell, doctoral student, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering; Korydon Smith, associate professor, Department of Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning; and Ba Zan Lin, program coordinator, Burmese Community Support Center.

The discussion will be moderated by Pavani Ram, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health, and co-leader of UB’s Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity. The mission of the Community of Excellence is to reduce disparities in health around the world.

During his two-day visit to UB, Borrazzo also will meet with select groups of UB students and faculty, and prior to his keynote address will have lunch — and discussion — with a group of SUNY and UB Distinguished Professors.

As chief of the MCH division in the USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, Borrazzo’s responsibilities include maternal, newborn and child health, as well as environmental health. He joined USAID in 1992 as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Policy Fellow focused on reducing exposure to air pollution and toxic substances in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Egypt.

From 1996 until his appointment as MCH division chief in January 2008, he was an environmental health team leader working in sub-Saharan Africa (Benin, Ethiopia and Madagascar), Asia (India and Indonesia) and Latin America and the Caribbean (Peru and Haiti).

Borrazzo earned master’s and doctoral degrees in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University — his research focused on various issues regarding indoor air quality — and completed postdoctoral research at the Institute for Water, Soil and Air Hygiene in Berlin, Germany.

He holds an undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard University.

In announcing the launch of Critical Conversations in 2013, President Satish K. Tripathi noted that the program would celebrate UB’s “longstanding history of intellectual leadership and innovation,” and be a “vital forum for timely, insightful dialogue about key issues shaping the world around us.”

The program addresses such broad-ranging topics as global health concerns, contemporary cultural debates, technological trends and socioeconomic challenges — subjects that cross disciplinary boundaries and geographic borders to shape daily life for us all.

The first two speakers in the series were Ed Lazowska, one of the world’s foremost scholars in the area of high-performance computing and communication systems, and David Relman, a leader in research on the human microbiome.

For more information, visit the Critical Conversations website.