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Jonathan Wortham is the first speaker in the 2021 Mudd Lecture Series at W&L

Dr. Jonathan Wortham
Dr. Jonathan Wortham. Photo courtesy Washington and Lee University.

Dr. Jonathan Wortham ’04, the leader of the outbreak investigations team in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will give a virtual lecture on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. as part of Washington and Lee University’s Mudd Center for Ethics series on Global Ethics in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities.

The series is a collaboration between the Mudd Center and the university’s Center for International Education.

Wortham’s talk, which is open to the public to view online, is titled “Ethical Problems in Public Health Practice.” Anyone can register for the virtual event for free at go.wlu.edu/mudd/wortham-talk.

“We are so pleased that our series on global ethics will kick off 2021 with a talk by Dr. Wortham,” said Brian Murchison, Charles S. Rowe Professor of Law and director of the Mudd Center. “Besides being a dedicated alumnus, Dr. Wortham will bring his incredible experience and informed perspective on how ethics matters greatly in the context of COVID-19.”

The CDC is a national public health institute in the United States. A federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, its main goal is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury and disability in the U.S. and internationally.

At the CDC, Wortham has investigated outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, tuberculosis, Ebola, Zika and COVID-19.

“COVID presents tremendous challenges not only to policymakers around the world, but also to the ethical framework in which they make decisions that impact human rights and freedoms,” said Mark Rush, Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law and director of the Center for International Education. “An appreciation for scientific research regarding demographics and epidemiology is critical for policymakers to make informed decisions. It is exciting that we can host Jonathan Wortham and draw upon his expertise and extensive experience working with the CDC to gain insights into pandemics’ ethical challenges. No doubt his talk will be informative and provocative.”

Wortham graduated from W&L with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and subsequently completed medical school and a pediatric residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. After residency, he completed an Epidemic Intelligence Service fellowship — an applied public health training program — at the CDC. He has authored more than 15 scientific manuscripts about various public health topics. In addition to his CDC work, he practices pediatrics in urgent care settings in Atlanta.

The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. By facilitating collaboration across traditional institutional boundaries, the center aims to encourage a multidisciplinary perspective on ethics informed by both theory and practice. Previous Mudd Center lecture series topics have included Race and Justice in America, The Ethics of Citizenship, Markets and Morals, Equality and Difference, The Ethics of Identity and The Ethics of Technology.


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