Contact: Allison Benner, College Relations Associate – Media, 610-740-3790


Allentown, PA (September 21, 2005) – According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), each year an estimated 300-500 million malaria infections occur with 1.2 million deaths -- 85 percent of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa mostly among young children. Although malaria was successfully eliminated in many countries with temperate climates during the 1950s, it remains a major killer in Africa. Today, malaria causes an estimated $12 billion in economic losses each year in Africa.

On Thursday, October 6, 2005, Dr. Lorraine Amory Soisson, a technical advisor to the Malaria Vaccine Development Program at USAID and an alumna of Cedar Crest College, will be the featured speaker at the annual Naomi Houser Distinguished Biology Alumna Lecture. Her presentation, "A Programmatic Approach to Malaria Vaccine Development," will be held in The Harold and Miriam Oberkotter Center, Room #1, at 4:00 p.m. and will be followed by a reception.

This summer, the Bush Administration announced a plan to increase federal funding for malaria prevention and treatment over the next five years. USAID, in collaboration with national and international partners, is working to develop strategies for the prevention and treatment of malaria. An integral part of this work includes the research and development of a malaria vaccine.

"With so many of our students focusing their studies in scientific fields, we are thrilled to have such a distinguished graduate return to campus to present current research about this timely global issue," says Dr. Kent Fitzgerald, chair of the department of biological sciences at Cedar Crest College.

Dr. Soisson received her bachelor of science in genetic engineering technology, biology and chemistry from Cedar Crest College in 1988. She went on to study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she was awarded her Ph.D in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology. After receiving her doctoral degree, Soisson served as a Science and Diplomacy Fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science at USAID where she formulated and communicated U.S. science, economic and social policy and represented the U.S. government at international meetings. She also worked as a senior technical advisor at Wellstart International and lectured on malaria vaccine development at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.

The Naomi Houser Distinguished Biology Alumna Lecture Series was established by the Cedar Crest College Alumnae Association in 1988 in honor and memory of Naomi Houser, a member of the Class of 1921. Houser took biology courses while at Cedar Crest and received her R.N. from Allentown Hospital School of Nursing. She then went on to receive a B.S. and M.A. from Columbia College. During her career, she was a private duty nurse in New York City, a nursing instructor and subsequently director of nursing at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem. Houser was also a leader in the district nursing association. After her death in 1986, her bequest to the Cedar Crest Alumnae Association provided the foundation for the lecture series, which was created to empower students by showing the paths taken by successful Cedar Crest graduates.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, the public can call 610-606-4609 or email alumnae@cedarcrest.edu. For media inquiries, please contact the College Relations Office at 610-740-3790.




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