Dr. Larry Brilliant is an epidemiologist who first made his mark eradicating the smallpox virus with the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1973-1976. In 1978 he cofounded the Seva Foundation, which has restored sight to more than 3 million blind people across multiple nations using innovative eye-care systems, low-cost intraocular lenses, and surgery. In the 80s, he cofounded The Well, a precursor to all subsequent online communities well before the internet was even common knowledge. In the early 00s, he volunteered to help victims of the Sri Lankan tsunami and again worked with the WHO in India to eradicate polio. In 2006, Google named him the Executive Director of Google.org, the company’s philanthropic division. A year earlier, he founded Pandefense Advisors, which describes itself as an “interdisciplinary network of world-class experts and professionals urgently engaged in pandemic response.”
Why They Made the Worthy 100: Continuing his decades-long heroic efforts towards battling scourge diseases, Brilliant is now 78 and still going strong. He’s currently working with WHO, especially the organization’s R&D Blueprint division based in Geneva. There, he’s helping to determine the research the WHO will need to do to develop practical diagnostic tests and vaccines necessary to treat the next pandemic coming down the pike: monkeypox. Though he feels the U.S. government and even WHO were slow in declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency, he’s making sure that doesn’t happen again. In a recent interview, Brilliant said, “there is still time to stop monkeypox, and we have the tools to do it.” Brilliant also intends to stop future pandemics by traveling to remote corners of the world to mount effective and ethical responses to threats as they occur.
See what Larry Brilliant had to say at the Techonomy 2022: Innovation must save the world event here.