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Reflecting on 9/11


Dear Colleagues,

Twenty years ago, the terrorist attacks on the United States took nearly 3,000 lives and changed our world. Today, we remember those whose lives were lost, as well as the families who grieve them to this day.

We also recognize that 9/11 and all that followed led to major challenges to and changes in the field of public health – including in preparedness and health security, human rights, mental health, environmental health, and health policy.

In yesterday’s Public Health on Call podcast, the director of the Center for Health Security Tom Inglesby noted that the response to 9/11 and the ensuing anthrax attacks included a biohazard countermeasure program. This program supported the rapid development of highly effective vaccines for COVID-19. At the same time, we have a long way to go to close the divisions and gaps in our world that cause misunderstanding, hate, violence, and suffering. Many investments in public health after 9/11 were misdirected or not sustained, with consequences that are sadly evident today.

Today is a day for reflection – reflection about a terrible day, about those whose lives were lost, and about what each of us can do separately and together to help heal the world.

My best to you all,


Ellen MacKenzie Signature

Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD '79, ScM '75


Bloomberg Distinguished Professor