How WSU’s work in Africa affects health in North America

Watch the 2017 WSU Innovators Lecture

People rely on antibiotics to fight infections and save lives. The emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria present a grim challenge for modern medicine. These tenacious bugs leave patients at risk for infections that can’t be treated. Each year drug-resistant bacterial infections cause nearly 23,000 deaths in the United States.

Drug resistance often emerges in resource-poor countries, where low sanitation, lack of clean water, and unvaccinated livestock create a welcoming environment for infectious disease. Under such conditions, antibiotic use is high in humans and animals. It is poorly regulated and largely untracked. Travel and trade spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria to regions around the world, including the Pacific Northwest. Halting their advance requires a global effort.

Washington State University has teamed with a network of Washington global health organizations to tackle the challenge. Scientists in WSU’s Paul G. Allen School of Global Animal Health understand how connections among humans, animals, and the environment contribute to emergence and spread of disease. Their knowledge makes the School an important partner in the recently launched Pacific Northwest Antimicrobial Resistance Coalition.

On April 18, WSU Innovators featured a panel discussion with the following experts:

  • Guy Palmer, founding director of the Allen School and WSU’s senior director for global health
  • Mark Caudell, Allen School postdoctoral fellow
  • Sylvia Omulo, Allen School alumnus and researcher

Tina Vlasaty of the Washington Global Health Alliance will moderate the discussion.


April 18, 2017 
Seattle Marriott Waterfront
2100 Alaskan Way

Featuring Dr. Guy Palmer, founding director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health

Concern for the health of animals and people worldwide drives the work of world-renowned researcher Guy Palmer, WSU senior director of global health and Regents Professor of Infectious Diseases. Dr. Palmer plays a major role in Washington’s global health community. He was the founding director of the Allen School and currently leads disease control programs in East Africa and Latin America.

Dr. Palmer is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and holds a National Institutes of Health (NIH) MERIT award for research on pathogen emergence. He heads the NIH Training Program in Infectious Diseases and Microbial Immunology. Dr. Palmer is on the faculty of the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in Arusha, Tanzania. He is also a member of the Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington.

Featuring Sylvia Omulo, Ph.D.

Sylvia Omulo just completed her Ph.D. in immunology and infectious disease at the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, working with Professor Douglas Call. Her research examines how poor sanitation affects antimicrobial resistance in low-income urban settings in East Africa.

Recent honors include the Karen DePauw Leadership Award, Community Health Analytics Initiative Graduate Fellowship, and a training scholarship to the Epidemiology and Population Health Summer Institute at Columbia University.

Before joining WSU, Dr. Omulo responded to disease outbreaks across eastern Africa for the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Collaboration Program.

Dr. Omulo holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, and a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science and technology from Egerton University in Kenya.

Featuring Mark Caudell, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow

Mark Caudell is a medical anthropologist and postdoctoral fellow working with Professor Douglas Call in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health. Dr. Caudell has studied aspects of human and livestock health among hunter-gatherers in the Central African Republic and among herders and farmers throughout eastern Africa—including Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. He is particularly interested in understanding how western medicines are incorporated into indigenous understandings of disease.

For the past four years, Dr. Caudell has led survey collection teams on a National Science Foundation project examining antimicrobial resistance in Tanzania. He is using his findings to develop a public health intervention that will reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance within Tanzanian communities.

Dr. Caudell earned master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology at WSU. He holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Michigan State University.