World-renowned Guinea worm disease eradicator to give convocation address

Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben-3
Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben, Ph.D.

Alumnus Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben, Ph.D. to speak at 2018 graduation ceremony

HOUSTON – Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben, Ph.D., director of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program at The Carter Center, will deliver the 2018 convocation address for The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health commencement ceremony on May 11. Ruiz-Tiben is an alumnus of UTHealth School of Public Health, having earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology from the school in 1982.

The Carter Center leads the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, working closely with ministries of health and local communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and many others. Guinea worm disease is set to become the second human disease in history (after smallpox) to be eradicated. It will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated and the first disease to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine or medicine.

Ruiz-Tiben joined The Carter Center in 1992 after serving for more than 27 years as a commissioned officer of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) at the CDC. In 1998, he became director of The Carter Center’s Guinea Worm (Dracunculiasis) Eradication Program. There, he has been working in conjunction with the WHO Collaborating Center for Research, Training and Eradication of Dracunculiasis at the CDC, monitoring and disseminating information about the status of the global campaign and provides technical assistance to national eradication programs.

During his tenure at CDC, Ruiz-Tiben headed the Helminthic Disease Branch, Division of Parasitic Disease, National Center for Infectious Diseases. He has worked to control the disease schistosomiasis in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Suriname, Brazil, Egypt, and Liberia and dengue fever in the Caribbean area. For this outstanding work, he received special commendations from the USPHS. Additionally, in recognition of his contributions to the global initiative to eradicate dracunculiasis, the CDC in 1990 awarded him the USPHS Outstanding Service Medal.

Ruiz-Tiben earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Catholic University in Puerto Rico; a Master of Science degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Public Health and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from UTHealth School of Public Health. On a personal level, he says, “I remain an avid tennis fan, being an amateur ex-player, woodworker, husband (married 50 years and counting), father of two daughters a grandfather of three girls and one boy.”

— Written by Shannon LaDuke with excerpts from The Carter Center —