Dr. Larry Brilliant, University of Michigan alumnus and president and CEO of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, delivers the 10th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability. The lecture begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Rackham Auditorium, and is followed by a public reception.
Before joining Skoll Global Threats Fund, he was Vice President of Google and Executive Director of Google.org.
Dr. Brilliant is a medical doctor and MPH, board-certified in preventive medicine. He lived and worked in India for 10 years and was on the United Nations’ team that led the successful World Health Organization smallpox eradication program. He did his undergraduate in Philosophy at the University of Michigan; his M.D. at Wayne State Medical School and came back to do his MPH at Michigan. Later he joined the U-M faculty from 1977-86, first as assistant professor of health planning and international health, and later as associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health. He has authored two books and dozens of scientific articles on infectious diseases, blindness and international health policy.
In 1985, while in Ann Arbor, Dr. Brilliant founded the Seva Foundation, an international NGO whose projects have given back sight to nearly 3 million people worldwide through their work to eliminate preventable and curable blindness. Also in Ann Arbor, he co-founded The Well, a pioneering digital community that holds a special place in the history of online communities and he holds a telecom patent related to online transactions.
He also worked for WHO and UNICEF in polio eradication and blindness and volunteered as a physician during several disasters, including the Asian tsunami in Sri Lanka and Indonesia and the Bihar Floods. After the anthrax attacks in the United States in 2001, he volunteered as a first responder for CDC’s bio-terrorism effort.
Dr. Brilliant was founding chair of the National Bio-Surveillance Advisory Subcommittee, created by Presidential directive, and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Advisory Council on Catastrophic Risks. He was elected to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2008. He is on the boards of the Skoll Foundation, Salesforce.com Foundation and is a frequent speaker and consultant on topics ranging from social action to large scale social change.
Recent awards include the TED Prize in 2006, Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People and Top 20 Scientists and Thinkers (2008), UN Global Leadership Award (2008), Peacemaker Award (2005) and International Public Health Hero (2004) and two honorary doctorates. In 2009, the documentary about polio eradication, which Dr. Brilliant conceived and was funded by Google.org, The Final Inch, won an Oscar nomination and was bought and shown by HBO.
The Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS) annually invites an internationally recognized leader to deliver the Lecture, established in 2001 to honor Peter M. Wege. Past lecturers have included President Obama’s assistant for Science and Technology John P. Holdren, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Vice President Al Gore and Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford. Mr. Wege is the retired vice-chairman of the board of Steelcase, Inc., in Grand Rapids, Mich. As founding chair of the CSS External Advisory Board, his vision of sustainability and spirit of generosity have guided CSS since its founding nearly 20 years ago.