Anthropology Professor Named to International Panel

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, known as IOM, have appointed Mark Nichter, a professor of anthropology and family and community medicine at The University of Arizona, to an international panel of health experts. The 17-member panel is charged with examining global surveillance and making policy recommendations in response to emerging zoonotic diseases.

Zoonotic diseases are those borne by animals that can be transferred to humans, such as rabies and avian influenza.

Nichter and his colleagues on the panel will review a number of issues, including the emergence and spread over the last several decades of a diverse range of diseases of zoonotic origin, summarize the trends and the implications for long-term domestic and international development and security, and examine public health responses to emerging diseases along with lessons learned that may be applicable to future threats.

The IOM's mission is to serve as adviser to the nation to improve health. It provides unbiased, evidence-based and authoritative information and advice concerning health and science policy to policymakers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society and the public at large.

Nichter is a noted authority in the field of medical anthropology and public health. His new book, "Global Health: Why Cultural Perceptions, Social Representations and Biopolitics Matter," summarizes how social science research contributes to international health.

The book has just been published by UA Press.

In his new book, Nichter, one of the world's leading medical anthropologists, summarizes what more than a quarter-century of health social science research has contributed to international health and elucidates what additional research can contribute to global health and the study of biopolitics in the future.

He focuses on the cultural understanding of infectious and vector-borne diseases, how they are understood locally and how various populations respond to public health interventions. The book examines the perceptions of three groups whose points of view on illness, health care and the politics of responsibility often differ and frequently conflict: local populations living in developing countries, public health practitioners working in international health and health planners and policy makers.

In the book, Nichter proposes research priorities for a new program of health social science research and calls for greater involvement by social scientists in studies of global health and emphasizes how medical anthropologists in particular can better involve themselves as scholar activists.