March 30, 2006

Official to discuss U.S. response to health crises

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The federal government's role in responding to public health crises is the focus of a lecture next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Eric D. Hargan, principal associate deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will deliver the 2006 Distinguished Visitor in Public Service Health Law lecture at 3 p.m., Thursday, April 6, in the Lesar Law Building Courtroom.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend the lecture. Eric Hargan will be available for interviews after the lecture. SIUC law school professors are available for interviews prior to the event. __________________________________________________________________________

This is the inaugural public service health law lecture presented by the law school's Center for Health Law and Policy, and is in cooperation with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The lecture is free and open to the public.

W. Eugene Basanta, the law school's Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law, said the lecture is timely in light of concerns over bio-terrorism threats, avian flu and the government's response to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

"We all look to the national government for leadership and it presents a lot of challenges," he said. "Katrina brought home what a challenge those sorts of things can be."

Hargan "is very involved at the federal level in how the government prepares and responds …" Basanta said.

Hargan, who joined the Bush administration as deputy general counsel of Health and Human Services in 2003, is a native of Mounds, and a 1986 graduate of Meridian High School. He started his current position last year.

He intends to focus on the historic role of the federal government in public health and public health emergencies, and the federal government's role when dealing with states, local communities and individuals. Hargan said he will also discuss from a health care perspective what is being done to prepare for the future – "looking ahead at a potential flu pandemic, bioterror possibilities, and how we are trying to prepare for natural disasters such as Katrina."

Hargan graduated from Harvard in 1990 and earned his law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1993. He was an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom in Chicago, before joining Winston & Strawn in Chicago in 1997, becoming a partner there in 2001.

A goal of the lecture is to bring in nationally prominent speakers to interact with students, faculty and the community. As part of his visit, Hargan is participating in classroom discussions, and will meet with students on Friday, April 7, and discuss career opportunities in public service and government service, Basanta said.

Developing citizens-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.