photo of Michael Osterholm

Acclaimed infectious disease researcher to deliver Case Western Reserve’s commencement address

University of Minnesota Regent Professor Michael Osterholm also wrote bestselling books on bioterrorism and viral pandemics—prior to outbreaks

Michael Osterholm, an international leader in infectious disease research and New York Times-bestselling author, will deliver Case Western Reserve University’s commencement address Wednesday, May 17, at the university’s Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center.

Among other noted positions, Osterholm is the Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

“During the pandemic, Michael Osterholm emerged as a leading advocate for the importance of applying science to defeat COVID-19,” President Eric W. Kaler said. “One of the world’s most accomplished infectious disease researchers, he is also among the most dedicated to educating the public. We are honored to have him address our graduates this spring.”

In November 2020, Osterholm was appointed to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 transition advisory board. From June 2018 through May 2019, he served as a Science Envoy for Health Security for the U.S. State Department.

He also authored two New York Times bestselling books: Living Terrors: What American Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe (2000) and Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs (2017).

Both books were prescient: The first was published a year before the infamous 2001 anthrax attacks; the latter detailed the most pressing infectious disease threats of the time (including coronaviruses and pandemics), while also laying out a strategy to address them.

Expansive career in public health

Osterholm’s work and influence have taken him from Minnesota to the world stage.

At the University of Minnesota, he is also Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health; a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering; and an adjunct professor in the medical school.

Osterholm is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Council of Foreign Relations and was appointed to the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity in 2005. In October 2008, he was appointed to the World Economic Forum Working Group on Pandemics.

He has also served as a special advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as a representative on the interim management team to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He has written more than 315 papers and abstracts, including 21 book chapters and is a frequently invited guest lecturer on the topic of epidemiology of infectious diseases. He serves on the editorial boards of nine journals.

Address part of ‘commencement week’

Case Western Reserve transitioned to a “commencement week” for 2023—five days of festivities that begin with a convocation for all graduates Wednesday, May 17, when Osterholm will speak.

That event will be followed by diploma and award ceremonies for various schools throughout the week, ending Sunday, May 21.

See the university’s commencement website for more information.

For more information, contact Mike Scott at