February 22, 2017 - 5:30pm

The unprecedented Ebola epidemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea in 2014-15 caught the world off-guard and elicited a flurry of varied reactions from governments, UN and humanitarian agencies, and public health officials. From flight bans to quarantines, various responses were implemented globally and locally, often based on fear rather than on sound medical science and practice.

Join us as a panel of experts reflect on the decisions made, their motivations, and whether they were appropriate or more reflective of heightened fear and frenzied media coverage. The panelists will discuss lessons learned from the actions taken, and current preparedness for a similar outbreak in the future.

Organized by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and NYU School of Medicine’s Division of Medical Ethics, this discussion is based on some of the issues addressed in the new book The Politics of Fear: Médecins Sans Frontières and the West African Ebola Epidemic published by Oxford University Press.

Light refreshments will be served starting at 5:00 PM

This event is free, fully accessible, and open to the public. Space is limited, so register now.


Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH was appointed Commissioner of Health of New York City in January 2014. Her focus is on ensuring that every New York City neighborhood supports the health of its residents, with the goal of closing gaps in population health across the diverse city. Originally from New York City, Dr. Bassett lived for nearly 20 years in Zimbabwe. Previously, she was a Program Director for the African Health Initiative and the Child Well-being Program at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. She completed her medical residency at Harlem Hospital Center, her medical degree at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington, and her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University.

Armand Sprecher, MD, MPH is an emergency physician and epidemiologist who has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since 1997. He received his Medical Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson University and holds a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science from Brown University. He has been involved with filovirus outbreak response since 2000, including working in the field during the outbreaks in Uganda 2000, Angola 2005, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007, and the outbreak in West Africa. Between outbreaks, aside from filovirus disease issues, Armand works mostly on health informatics. Armand has also worked with the International Medical Corps and the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service.

Craig Spencer, MD, MPH, Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Medical Center was in Guinea in the fall of 2014 working for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as a physician in an Ebola treatment center. After developing symptoms back home in New York, he was diagnosed with Ebola. While undergoing intense media scrutiny, he was treated at NYU’s Bellevue Hospital and was declared Ebola-free on November 10.  In March, 2015, he went back to Guinea to continue fighting Ebola as an epidemiologist. Dr. Spencer continues to go on MSF assignments, working in Burundi and Chad in 2016.


Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, Currently the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and founding head of the Division of Bioethics at NYU School of Medicine in New York City. Prior to coming to NYU School of Medicine he was the Sidney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia where he created the Center for Bioethics and the Department of Medical Ethics. Caplan has also taught at the University of Minnesota, where he founded the Center for Biomedical Ethics, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University. He received his PhD from Columbia University. Caplan is the author or editor of thirty-five books and over 725 papers in peer reviewed journals.  His most recent book is The Ethics of Sport, (Oxford University Press, 2016).

NYU Langone Medical Center

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