TED Prize winner Larry Brilliant has spent his career solving the world's biggest problems, from overseeing the last smallpox cases to saving millions from blindness.

Why you should listen

Dr. Larry Brilliant is a physician and epidemiologist, proud member of the TED community, CEO of Pandefense Advisory and Chair of the Advisory Board of the NGO Ending Pandemics. He is a senior advisor to Jeff Skoll and serves on the board of the Skoll Foundation. Previously, he was president and CEO of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, vice president of Google and the founding executive director of Google.org. He also cofounded the Seva Foundation, an NGO whose programs have given sight back to more than five million blind people in two dozen countries. He also cofounded The Well, a progenitor of today's social media platforms. Earlier in his career, Brilliant was a professor of epidemiology and international health planning at the University of Michigan.

Brilliant lived in India for nearly a decade, where he was a key member of the successful WHO Smallpox Eradication Programme for southeast Asia as well as the WHO Polio Eradication Programme. More recently, he was chairman of the National Biosurveillance Advisory Committee, which was created by presidential directive of President George W. Bush. He was also a member of the World Economic Forum's Agenda Council on Catastrophic Risk and a "First Responder" for CDC's bio-terrorism response effort.

Brilliant's wards and honors include the 2006 TED Prize, Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People, "International Public Health Hero" and four honorary doctorates. He has lectured at Oxford, Harvard, Berkeley and many other colleges, spoken at the Royal Society, the Pentagon, NIH, the United Nations and some of the largest companies and non-profits all over the world. He has written for Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and other magazines and peer reviewed journals. He was part of the Global Business Network where he learned Scenario Planning and is the author of a memoir about working to eradicate smallpox, Sometimes Brilliant, and a guide to managing vaccination programs in a book The Management of Smallpox Eradication.

Larry Brilliant’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Larry Brilliant


Larry Brilliant’s new book shows how pandemics can be eradicated

October 11, 2016

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant remembers the day in 1974 when, while working for the United Nations in India, a mother handed him her young son, who had died only moments earlier from smallpox. Brilliant also remembers the day, about a year later, when he traveled by speedboat to an island in Bangladesh and met a 3-year-old […]

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Can we end pandemics in our lifetime? Larry Brilliant suggests we are getting much closer

November 13, 2013

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQBuZVQruRY&w=640&h=360] By tracking social media, it turns out, we can get much better at recognizing pandemics early. Solving epidemics has been the goal of physician Larry Brilliant’s career — and the basis for his 2006 TED Prize wish, which he updated this year in a talk at TED2013, above. His wish called for an “International System […]

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