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Sir Richard Branson: Screw it, Let’s do it!

image courtesy of virgin

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Everything – that is, Virgin Group – has literally set up hundreds of companies, with currently over 40 worldwide from airlines, to hotels, to trains, to rocket ships, balloon flights, and more. What could this business leader have to say about global health?

At the grand finale of the Global Health Symposium, Branson and Texas Biomed President/CEO Larry Schlesinger, MD, will discuss how Branson’s entrepreneurial spirit and philosophy of “Screw it, Let’s do it!” can inspire scientists and leaders working on global health.

Sir Richard Branson will headline Texas Biomedical Research Institute’s Global Health Symposium being held virtually on April 28 and 29 as well as in person in San Antonio, Texas.              

“Sir Richard Branson is a visionary leader with a great depth of experience building cross-sector partnerships to drive transformational change,” Schlesinger says. “We are thrilled he will be joining us virtually to close our symposium on a high note.” The Virgin Unite foundation harnesses the power of businesses and partnerships, tackling social issues and environmental challenges.

Texas Biomed’s second annual Global Health Symposium will host more than 70 speakers to explore innovative approaches to address pandemic preparedness and sustainable global development. The discussions will be hosted online, with local leaders presenting from the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how closely the economy is tied to public health and the need to be better prepared for future pandemics.

“There is no time to waste.”

This was said by Akudo Anyanwu, MD, MPH, who is Texas Biomed’s VP, Development and lead symposium organizer. “Even as we continue to navigate the waves of COVID-19 variants, we must forge new, unusual partnerships to protect people’s health on a daily basis and during outbreaks of novel pathogens that have yet to emerge.”

A key aim of the symposium is to bring together leaders from across sectors, including research, healthcare, government, business and philanthropy.

“Health and sustainable development are closely intertwined, but the people we need to collaborate on these grand challenges are not often in the same room – we are seeking to change that with this symposium,” Anyanwu says.

Along with Branson, speakers hailing from around the nation and world include representatives from The World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, Johnson & Johnson, ThermoFisher Scientific, Novartis, AstraZeneca and Baylor College of Medicine, just to name a few.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Judith Monroe, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation, who will discuss “Partnerships and Philanthropy in Pandemics and Beyond” and Dr. Tony Frank, Chancellor of the Colorado State University System, who will share “A Different Case for the Role of Community in Biomedical Innovation.”

The two-day program features panel discussions about mental health, gender inequality and vulnerable populations in pandemics. Speakers will share latest advancements in HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases like cancer and heart disease. Local students will share how the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping the next generation. Experts will discuss the role science communication plays in public health education and combatting misinformation.

Distinguished officials participating include Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and San Antonio Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda. Texas Biomed will honor city and county representatives for their leadership throughout the pandemic at the event.

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