Public health, emergency preparedness is topic of next URI Honors Colloquium lecture, Sept. 25

Posted on
KINGSTON, R.I. – September 17, 2012 – Robert Tosatto, director of the Office of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, is the next speaker in the University of Rhode Island’s Honors Colloquium, which examines the politics and money influencing health care around the world.

All of the lectures in the semester-long series, called “Health Care Change? Health, Politics and Money,” begin at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium on the URI Kingston campus. They are free and open to the public.

In his lecture, Tosatto will discuss the factors that affect participation in public health initiatives and emergency preparedness activities, particularly in building and maintaining community resilience.

As director of the Medical Reserve Corps, Tosatto administers the coordination, establishment and implementation of its units in communities across the nation. He specializes in issues involving civilian volunteers and their contribution to emergency response activities and public heath initiatives. Tosatto is also the principal advisor to the United States Surgeon General and the Assistant Secretary for Health. His numerous response missions include Hurricane Katrina disaster outreach and tracking the anthrax mailings in 2001.

Tosatto has been a U.S. Public Health Service officer since 1988 and has completed tours of duty with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Indian Health Service, and the Office of Global Health Affairs. He was awarded the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal and the U.S. Public Health Service Meritorious Service Medal for his services.

Other speakers in the colloquium series are Joia Mukherjee, medical director of Partners in Health (Oct. 2); Gregory Poland, director of the vaccine research group at the Mayo Clinic (Oct. 9); Roberta Friedman, director of public policy at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University (Oct. 23); Jonathan Gruber, director of the health care program at the National Bureau of Economic Research (Oct. 30); Stephanie Chafee, co-founder of the Rhode Island Free Clinic (Nov. 13); Michael Fine, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (Nov. 27); and Unni Karanukara, international president of Doctors Without Borders (Dec. 10).

Other colloquium events include the URI Theatre presentation of the play Marvin’s Room, a dark comedy that deals with family care and end of life issues, on Oct. 11-14 and 18-21, and the medical musical comedy, Damaged Care, on Dec. 4.

All remaining lectures will be streamed live at, where the complete schedule of events is also listed. For additional information about the URI Honors Colloquium, contact Deborah Gardiner at or 401-874-2381.

The major sponsor of the Honors Colloquium is the URI Honors Program, with sustaining sponsors including the URI Office of the President, Office of the Provost, the Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment, and the Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment. Leadership sponsors include the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, the college of Pharmacy, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Multicultural Center, and the Department of Communications and Marketing. Also sponsoring the Honors Colloquium are Cox Communications, the College of Business Administration, Department of Publications and Creative Services, College of Engineering, College of Nursing, College of Human Science and Services, Division of Administration and Finance, Division of Student Life, and Department of Communication Studies of the Harrington School of Communication & Media.

This press release was written by Victoria Antonelli, an intern in URI’s Department of Communication and Marketing and a journalism major.