Sustainable Health Relief Speakers

Walter Ulrich

Walter Ulrich is President & CEO of Medical Bridges, a non-profit serving the global poor by providing needed medical supplies and equipment to clinics and hospitals. Accredited by the MedSurplus Alliance, Medical Bridges in 2019 provided 100 tons of desperately need medical equipment and supplies to 13 developing countries and to The Bahamas to help rebuild after Dorian. With the support of Medical Bridges, the desperately needed Centre Hospitalier de Pernier (CHP) in Haiti opened on December 15 with 300 people lined up for care. On January 14, 2020, the first baby was born with birthing bed, equipment and supplies from Medical Bridges. Since then, many more babies have been blessed with life. In 2018, Walter served as interim CEO of a company that provides financial services to the poor laying the foundation to offer health care services to the same community. In 2017, he concluded his assignment as president and CEO of a nonprofit which helped create 6,000 jobs. Walter served on the Governor’s Texas Emerging Technology Fund Committee. In 2014, Ulrich was awarded the prestigious NASA Silver Achievement Medal. The previous year, the Texas Black Expo bestowed to him their “Community Builder Award.”

Ruth Berggren, MD

The daughter of medical missionaries to the Congo, Dr. Ruth Berggren got her start in global health by growing up on the campus of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti, where she became fluent in French and Creole. Dr. Berggren was educated at Oberlin College and Harvard Medical School. She completed an internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and an infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Colorado. Her early career focused on HIV/AIDS, from vaccine development, to programs preventing maternal to child HIV transmission in Haiti, to clinical trials treating Hepatitis C in HIV co-infection. She has served as an infectious disease specialist on the faculties of University of Colorado, UT Southwestern in Dallas, Tulane University in New Orleans, and UT Health San Antonio. After an eventful stint in Charity Hospital during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Dr. Berggren’s career turned to promoting humanism in medicine. Since 2008, she has directed the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at UT Health San Antonio. The Center’s mission is teaching ethics and professionalism to medical students and health professionals while nurturing empathy and humanitarian values. The Center’s four programs include Ethics and Professionalism, Medical Humanities, Global Health, and Community Service Learning. In Global Health, Dr. Berggren directs 5 electives and oversees a Humanities distinction pathway for medical students. Global Health education at the Center includes immersion experiences abroad, and emphasizes critical thinking about the ethical challenges that arise when high income countries seek to improve health in low resource settings.

Clifford Dasco, MD

Dr. Clifford Dacso is the Philip J. Carroll, Jr. Professor of Translational Molecular and Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University. Dr. Dacso’s current research interests focus on omics strategies for elucidating chronic disease and circadian rhythm and untangling the complex role of epigenetics in the social determinants of health. Other research projects include development and dissemination of technologically supported point-of-care decision-making in chronic diseases. These projects combine biosensors, network-reciprocal data and medical and community context, and most repurpose technologies and therapeutics for new applications, including patient monitoring systems for congestive heart failure, asthma, exercise, and diabetes, for which he holds several patents. Dr. Dacso’s international partnerships include research on Buruli ulcer, Tuberculosis treatment and control, research ethics, and detection and prevention of emerging infectious diseases. He has been PI and Co-PI on multiple NIH, NSF, and private foundation grants and awards.