Founder and CEO, Cure Violence
Formerly, Chief, Intervention Development, World Health Organization
Gary Slutkin is a physician and epidemiologist who has led efforts to combat epidemics of tuberculosis, cholera and AIDS, worked in over 25 countries in east and central Africa, Latin America and Asia, consulted on SARS and Ebola, was the Director of Intervention for the World Health Organization and is currently tracking and advising governments on COVID19. Dr. Slutkin is also known for innovating with the epidemic control approach and leads the #9 NGO in the world, Cure Violence Global.
Dr. Slutkin received his M.D. from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and completed his internship, residency, and infectious disease training at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), where he was also the Chief Resident in Medicine. Following a year in Africa he returned to SFGH for infectious disease training, and was then asked to run the Tuberculosis Program for the City of San Francisco at a time when S.F. had the highest rate of tuberculosis in the country. Here he innovated with the use of local health workers, and this epidemic was reversed within 3 years.
Dr. Slutkin then moved to Somalia to work on TB and cholera epidemics full time and lived in Somalia for 3 years, guiding the work of TB control in 40 refugee camps consisting of 1 million refugees, and then co-guided the response to a devastating national cholera epidemic.
Dr. Slutkin was then recruited in 1987 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to join the newly forming WHO Global Program on AIDS where he worked in over 25 countries. He was assigned to lead the efforts to start the national AIDS programs with the 13 countries in the epicenter of the epidemic in central and East Africa. Dr. Slutkin also led World Health Organization’s efforts to reverse the AIDS epidemic in Uganda, and Uganda became the first country, and for over 10 years the only country, to successfully reverse its AIDS epidemic. He was then appointed Director of Intervention Development for WHO at Global Headquarters/Geneva where he formed and led a team responsible for guiding countries around the world in behavior change methods.
After 10 years abroad, Dr. Slutkin returned home to the U.S. and shifted his focus to violence, seeing it as an epidemic process since the charts, maps and graphs as well as other epidemiologic characteristics appeared to define it in that way. He is credited with having fully revealed the scientific and practical links for seeing and treating violence more as a standard health epidemic. In the year 2000 he founded Cure Violence which has achieved 40 – 70% drops in violence – and sometimes to 90-100% using these methods. The approach is summarized in the 2013 Institute of Medicine Report, “The Contagion of Violence”, and in his article in that volume entitle “Violence is a Contagious Disease”. Seeing and treating violence as a health problem changes our view of people as well as the approach to the problem.
Cure Violence works in over 100 communities in 25 U.S. cities and 15 countries with the focus abroad in Latin America and the Middle East. There have been multiple independent evaluations of the work, and several heavily impacted communities have gone to zero shootings or killings for 1 to 3 years with this approach.
New initiatives for 2019 include expanding the national effort to design more complete systems for community health and safety, and an exploration of health-based intersections with the justice reform movement – in language, policy, systems and metrics. The international work is focused on reducing the stresses to immigration through violence reduction in Latin America, and a new approach to conflict zones focusing on the Middle East in particular Syria, Israel and the West Bank.
Dr. Slutkin’s work has been featured as the NY Times Sunday Magazine Cover Story, “Blocking The Transmission of Violence”, the award winning documentary film, “The Interrupters”, and in over a dozen books, most recently in Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn’s book, “A Path Appears”. He also has a very highly acclaimed TED Talk. He has appeared on The PBS News Hour, CNN, 60 Minutes, and is quoted regularly in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Economist, and other leading publications. National and international awards include the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Public Safety, The Order of Lincoln Award, and the UNICEF Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Dr. Slutkin speaks regularly at local, national and global forums including The World Bank, Institute of Medicine, The World Economic Forum, and the UN. He is a Global Ashoka fellow, and is a senior advisor to the World Health Organization.