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The professor of “telepreventive medicine”

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 13 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1158
  1. Gavin Yamey
  1. BMJ

    The Supercourse website collects hundreds of lectures on public health delivered by a global faculty of experts. Its founder, Ron LaPorte, tells Gavin Yamey about running a “university without walls”

    When an earthquake hit Iran on 26 December 2003, killing over a third of Bam's population of 90 000 people, Ron LaPorte, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, knew immediately what he had to do.

    LaPorte runs the Supercourse, a freely available online library of about 1700 lectureson public health. Within three days, he and his colleagues had uploaded an authoritative lecture on the health consequences of earthquakes, written by Eric Noji, a world expert on responding to disasters.

    Noji's lectures now sit alongside those on tornadoes, avian influenza, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and other public health crises. These lectures, says LaPorte, with his characteristic boyish enthusiasm, have “enormous potential to reduce fear and save lives.”

    All the lectures are written by members of a networked global community of 13 000 scientists—including six Nobel prize winners—who are committed to what LaPorte calls “telepreventive medicine.”

    The lectures are presented in a slide format compatible with PowerPoint. They are aimed at “teaching the teachers” of public health, particularly in universities …

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