Larry Brilliant, MD

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Pioneering Physician, Epidemiologist and Leading Public Health Expert; Highly Sought-After Strategy Consultant on Global Pandemics; Global Philanthropist and Senior Advisor, Skoll Foundation; Founder and CEO of Pandefense Advisory

Biography

The tragedies and economic impact of COVID-19 can best be explained by the world’s foremost authority on pandemics and viruses, Dr. Larry Brilliant, physician, epidemiologist, global philanthropist and self-described social change “addict.” Through his consulting and advisory services, Brilliant offers leaders actionable, strategic advice for navigating uncertainty during global health crises.

Brilliant, who is the founder and CEO of Pandefense Advisory, is best known for having been a key member of the successful World Health Organization’s Smallpox Eradication Program. He was previously the president and CEO of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, vice president of Google, and the founding executive director of Google.org.

Brilliant is an M.D. and M.P.H. who is board certified in preventive medicine and public health. He also serves as a member of strategic advisory committees for the Berkeley School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley; Omidyar Network; and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Venture Capital.

In addition to his medical career, Brilliant co-founded The Well, a pioneering virtual community, with Stewart Brand in 1985. He also holds a telecommunications technology patent and has served as CEO of two public companies and other venture-backed startups.

Brilliant is the cofounder of The Seva Foundation, an NGO whose programs have given back sight to more than 5 million blind people in two dozen countries. He has written two books, and dozens of articles, including “Sometimes Brilliant“, his account of the successful eradication of smallpox. Brilliant has worked at city, county, state, federal and international levels. He was a “first responder” for CDC’s smallpox bio-terrorism response effort, has volunteered in Sri Lanka for tsunami relief, and he established Pandefense Advisory, an interdisciplinary consultancy that aims to prepare for possible pandemic influenza. He recently worked for the WHO polio eradication effort as well. He was Associate Professor of epidemiology, global health planning and economic development at the University of Michigan.

Brilliant earned a Master of Public Health degree in health planning and economic development from the University of Michigan, and he received his M.D. from Wayne Medical School. He has received several awards from the Government of India and from WHO. In 2005, he received an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree from Knox College, and he was named “International Public Health Hero” by the University of California. In February 2006, he received the Sapling Foundation’s TED Prize.

Larry Brilliant is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Media

'We're in for a Bad and Rocky Ride:' Ex-WHO Doctor Who Helped Eradicate Smallpox Predicts COVID-19 Turmoil for Years

August 3, 2020

Coronavirus Future in America Will Be Whack-A-Mole: Q&A with Epidemiologist

August 3, 2020

Wired logo

Larry Brilliant on How Well We Are Fighting Covid-19

July 9, 2020

China's Lack of Transparency on Virus Fueling Rumours - U.S. Expert

May 13, 2020

The Economist logo

How Society Can Overcome COVID-19

April 4, 2020

Airbnb Hosts to Help Provide Housing to 100,000 COVID-19 Responders

March 26, 2020

A Doctor Who Helped Stamp Out Smallpox Has Advice for Dealing with COVID-19

March 20, 2020

The Next Pandemic is Inevitable. Are We Prepared?

February 18, 2020

Fortune logo

'Contagion' Writer, Scientific Adviser Reflect on Film's Newfound Relevance Amid Coronavirus

February 12, 2020

The Wuhan Coronavirus: What Your Organization Needs to Know and Do Now

February 4, 2020

How Rock 'N' Roll Doctor Larry Brilliant Helped Eradicate Smallpox

December 21, 2016

Sometimes Brilliant Book Review

December 14, 2016

'Philosopher Hippie' Larry Brilliant on Eradicating Smallpox (Audio)

December 12, 2016

Progressive Spirit Podcast logo

A Hippie Saves the World (Audio)

December 11, 2016

Larry Brilliant’s Insight: Times Have Been Worse

November 27, 2016

Upworthy logo

Meet the Hippie-Turned-Doctor Who Helped Save Us From the Worst Epidemic in History

November 18, 2016

WAMC logo

The Impossible Adventure Of A Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer The Worst Disease In History

November 7, 2016

Times of Israel Logo

The Multi-Talented Larry Brilliant Just Added One More Skill — Author

October 21, 2016

Commonwealth Club logo

Commonwealth National Podcast: Larry Brilliant: Sometimes Brilliant

October 11, 2016

This Foundation Has Provided Eyesight To 4 Million People In Developing Countries

October 8, 2016

Chronicle of Philanthropy logo

Business of Giving Podcast: A Doctor's Journey Through Medicine, Mysticism, and Philanthropy

October 6, 2016

How Cataract Surgery Went From $500 to Under $2

June 23, 2016

Ebola: What Should We Do Now?

October 17, 2014

This Scientist Has a Plan to Stop the World's Next Pandemic

May 2014

Harvard Public Health logo

Harvard School of Public Health - Commencement Address

May 30, 2013

Corporate Giver

March 9, 2008

Biography

The tragedies and economic impact of COVID-19 can best be explained by the world’s foremost authority on pandemics and viruses, Dr. Larry Brilliant, physician, epidemiologist, global philanthropist and self-described social change “addict.” Through his consulting and advisory services, Brilliant offers leaders actionable, strategic advice for navigating uncertainty during global health crises.

Brilliant, who is the founder and CEO of Pandefense Advisory, is best known for having been a key member of the successful World Health Organization’s Smallpox Eradication Program. He was previously the president and CEO of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, vice president of Google, and the founding executive director of Google.org.

Brilliant is an M.D. and M.P.H. who is board certified in preventive medicine and public health. He also serves as a member of strategic advisory committees for the Berkeley School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley; Omidyar Network; and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Venture Capital.

In addition to his medical career, Brilliant co-founded The Well, a pioneering virtual community, with Stewart Brand in 1985. He also holds a telecommunications technology patent and has served as CEO of two public companies and other venture-backed startups.

Brilliant is the cofounder of The Seva Foundation, an NGO whose programs have given back sight to more than 5 million blind people in two dozen countries. He has written two books, and dozens of articles, including “Sometimes Brilliant“, his account of the successful eradication of smallpox. Brilliant has worked at city, county, state, federal and international levels. He was a “first responder” for CDC’s smallpox bio-terrorism response effort, has volunteered in Sri Lanka for tsunami relief, and he established Pandefense Advisory, an interdisciplinary consultancy that aims to prepare for possible pandemic influenza. He recently worked for the WHO polio eradication effort as well. He was Associate Professor of epidemiology, global health planning and economic development at the University of Michigan.

Brilliant earned a Master of Public Health degree in health planning and economic development from the University of Michigan, and he received his M.D. from Wayne Medical School. He has received several awards from the Government of India and from WHO. In 2005, he received an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree from Knox College, and he was named “International Public Health Hero” by the University of California. In February 2006, he received the Sapling Foundation’s TED Prize.

Larry Brilliant is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Changing the World: One Challenge at a Time

Larry’s career reads like a movie script. It starts with him as a young doctor who gets recruited to deliver a Native American baby on the occupied Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay in the late 1960s. He then gets swept up into the literal making of a movie, which involves psychedelic buses traveling cross country with the likes of Wavy Gravy and culminates in a Pink Floyd concert in England. He and some others stay on the bus, and travel for the next few years all the way to India. There, Larry meets Ram Dass and studies with a guru in a monastery in the Himalayas. The guru tells him to join the United Nations and eradicate smallpox. After numerous attempts to join the effort, accompanied with journeys up and down the mountain, he finally gets a UN job and eventually becomes one of the leaders of the WHO program that indeed eradicates history’s greatest killer. The story doesn’t stop there. Brilliant goes on to launch a foundation that eventually helps as many as 2 million blind people regain sight – with the help of the Grateful Dead and Steve Jobs, among others. He also becomes involved in a technology company that provides the core hardware and software for the founding of the pioneering online community, the WELL. Brilliant’s career is in every way remarkable. So, too, are his insights into where the world might be heading. In this presentation, he delivers multiple perspectives: those of a physician, a former CEO, a technologist, and – now – one of the world’s most visible philanthropists, to challenge each of us to change the world.

Birds, Bugs, and Business: Preparing for Crisis

The first years of this century have brought increasing shocks – technological, political, economic, and climatic. Now we are facing mounting concerns about a possible biological crisis: an avian flu pandemic. But what is its probability? What steps can we take to prepare? And what are the broader implications for business and society?

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Books & Research

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Recommendations

“Dr. Brilliant is a name to live up to, and he has.”

— 2006 TEDPrize Nominator

Senior Technical Advisor on the motion picture “Contagion” (2011)

Honored as an “International Public Health Hero” by the University of California

Named to the “100 Most Influential People in the World” list by TIME Magazine (2008)

Granted the “Community Peace Maker Award” from Wayne State University

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Brilliant, MD, Larry

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