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Changing the Conversation

The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation Invests in Curbing Anti-Science Rhetoric and Research

Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D.

Historically, doctors and scientists have been among the most-trusted professionals in the U.S., seen as experts in health by those for whom they provide care. However, growing distrust in long-established institutions, often spurred by online trolls and media personalities, has eroded the public’s adherence to sound medical advice regarding vaccines and disease prevention measures.

The effects of these harmful messages can have dire consequences. For instance, during the delta and BA.1 variant waves of the pandemic, more than 200,000 unvaccinated Americans died of COVID-19 after a safe and effective vaccine became available. This is especially concerning to Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., dean of Baylor’s National School of Tropical Medicine.

The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation is providing generous funding for Dr. Hotez to hold the nation’s first anti-science summit. The purpose is to gather national thought leaders who specialize in a diverse array of fields to craft messages to help counter anti-science and anti-vaccine messages.

The Mitchell Foundation’s support will contribute to stemming the preventable loss of life from concerted disinformation activities emerging from both domestic and international actors, by helping Dr. Hotez and his colleagues disentangle anti-vaccine activities from those with harmful agendas. It is vital to the public health and security of the nation to find ways to manage, mitigate, and defuse anti-science organizations and messaging to reduce harmful public health consequences.