Dr. Blumenthal is a Meridian Trustee, as well as founder and chair of the Global Health Program at Meridian, where she has convened conferences on critical international issues including pandemic flu and promoting healthy aging worldwide. For more than two decades, Dr. Blumenthal served in senior Federal health leadership positions in the Administrations of four U.S. Presidents. The hallmark of her career has been bringing understudied public health problems to increased scientific and public attention. She has been a major force in advancing progress on global health issues including AIDS, women’s health, and disease prevention.
The Rock Stars of Science (R.S.O.S.) campaign brings together eight celebrity musicians and seventeen of the nation’s top medical researchers, including two Nobel Laureates, to raise public awareness about the importance of science to society. This campaign pays tribute to “scientific heroes” in fields including cancer research, Alzheimer’s/neuro-imaging/prevention trials, global health, women’s health, heart disease, integrative medicine, autism, rare diseases, stem cell research, and space age studies.
A goal of the Rock Stars of Science campaign is to increase the appeal of scientific careers to young people in the United States today. Mentoring the next generation of scientific leaders is a top priority for Dr. Blumenthal. “The U.S. is witnessing an alarming decline in the number of young people pursuing research,” she notes. “Only 12% of all college graduates held jobs in the fields of science and engineering. It is very important for youth to know that science rocks and that celebrated musicians are putting their names and faces behind the call for more scientists and for increased investments in research.” Dr. Blumenthal adds, “Rock stars and scientists share passion, creativity, and the thrill of discovery. Where musicians use their minds, instruments and voices to create new rhythms, researchers use science and technology to make the music of medicine: new discoveries that improve health and eradicate disease.”
“Today every country faces the double jeopardy of infectious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS added to the burden of chronic diseases including cancer, mental illness, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. We need brilliant, creative, and game-changing young people to become scientists, working across disciplines and sectors in our country and globally to discover cures and prevent illnesses from occurring in the first place,” Dr. Blumenthal emphasized. “There is nothing more gratifying than to rock the world the way science, medicine and public health can. They definitely rocked my world!” she underscored.
“Scientists must venture outside their comfort zones to show the public how cool – and how important – their work really is,” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health and one of the 2009 Rock Stars of Science. “I urge every scientist to get into the act by telling friends, neighbors, community leaders, and elected officials about his or her research.”
“We need to tap into the psyche of a younger generation that is turning away from careers in science,” says RSOS™ Executive Producer, Meryl Comer. “If it takes music and rock stars to connect kids to the ‘cool’ in science, and make researchers the new ‘heroes’ to emulate, then that’s how Geoffrey Beene will design it.”
Says Rock icon Jay Sean, who is photographed with Dr. Susan Blumenthal: “I went on to study medicine. I was halfway through my degree when my first record deal presented itself...but I'll always be a fan of science.”
Dr. Blumenthal is also the Director of the Health and Medicine Program at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC), where she led the USAID-funded Palestinian/Israeli Health Initiative, a project that used health diplomacy as a bridge for peace in the region. Additionally, Dr. Blumenthal serves as a Clinical Professor at Georgetown and Tufts Schools of Medicine. She is the recipient of many awards including honorary doctorates and the Distinguished Service Medal of the US Public Health Service, its highest honor . She was named the 2009 Health Leader of the Year by the Commissioned Officers Association and by the Medical Herald as one of the most influential women in medicine.
About Meridian: Meridian International Center’s mission is to strengthen international understanding and serves as a center of innovation for engaging the public sector, private sector and diplomatic community in an exchange of people, ideas and culture. Meridian’s Global Health Program is a key cross-cutting initiative of the Meridian International Center that includes world affairs public briefings and conferences, international visitor training through U.S. State Department International Visitor Leadership Programs, and arts and cultural activities. For more information, visit www.meridian.org